Newsweek Blogger: Tea Party Coverage Isn't Harsh Enough

Newsweek blogger Ben Adler thinks the national media are giving the Tea Parties gentle treatment. "Unfortunately," Adler wrote in a June 21 post, "what appear to be false notions of objectivity - or perhaps a lack of interest in policy - is preventing that coverage from illuminating what the movement actually represents and what it would do if empowered." Adler complained that a recent Associated Press article, "Enraged to Engaged: Tea partiers explain why," failed to examine the ideology of the demonstrators in the grassroots conservative movement. "The piece examines how and why a variety of individuals became involved in the Tea Party movement without once asking what precisely the platform consists of," Adler said, leading one to wonder if he even read the article. The 2,300-word "stemwinder," as Adler called it, written by reporter Pauline Arrillaga, presented various segments of Tea Party ideology on five separate occasions. In the third paragraph, Arrillaga notes that the purpose of the Tea Party-affiliated Lincoln Club in Yucca Valley, Calif., is "to promote educate and advance conservative principles of fiscal responsibility small limited government, free enterprise, the rule of law, private property rights, and the preservation and protection of individual liberty." Eric Odom, widely regarded as a founder of the Tea Party movement, told Arrillaga said the group's purpose was, "to make sure that we're represented by people who are looking out for our rights and upholding the Constitution... And if they don't, to make sure we have an infrastructure to really take them out rather than have these thugs that are in there for 30, 40 years." As Adler put it, Tea Partiers are "vehemently opposed" to raising taxes. "But when it comes to specifics, suddenly every program seems worthier than when demonized in the collective abstract. Which politician wants to cut spending on Homeland Security? Education for students with special needs? (Surely not Sarah Palin!)," Adler said in a reference to Palin's son, Trig, who was born with Down syndrome. Adler complained that the AP would dare characterized Tea Party demonstrators as "concerned Americans trying to find their voices, and a way to channel their disgust." He suggested they aren't motivated by love of country or concern for the future, but by ignorance. Arrillaga's article refuted the notion that Tea Party activists are "ignorant," however. Bill Warner, Lincoln Club member, ran his own engineering firm for three decades. Hildy Angius is currently running the Republican Woman's Club, and is a staunch Tea Party Activist. She is an ex-PR agent with a degree from New York State Albany. Eric Odom started the Tea Party movement fresh out of college. Tea Partiers come from all walks of life and have diverse academic backgrounds. Adler also predictable recycled a tired media-drive stereotype that Tea Party members are racist. He suggested they are too dumb to realize they're racist. "Might it be possible that the Tea Partiers who profess no racial motivation are, let's say, not entirely aware of their own visceral motivations? I'm sure if you asked the Southern voters who switched to Republican voting habits why they did so, many would say race had nothing to do with it. But why should journalists take that at face value?" Adler said. Adler's assertion that the media have been soft on the Tea Parties might come as a surprise to anyone who's paid attention to media coverage of Tea Parties. From the very first demonstrations in April 2009, reporters have attacked Tea Party members. According to a Media Research Center study, the media at first tried to ignore the demonstrations, but quickly moved into attack mode, portraying Tea Party protestors as extremists. Just last week, MSNBC's Chris Matthews aired a "documentary" about the Tea Party portraying its members as racists, terrorists and conspiracy theorists.