CBS Highlights Tea Party Rallies, But Also Plays Up Bad Poll Numbers

CBS's Jan Crawford spotlighted the Tea Party movement on Monday's Early Show, but also played up how it might present a "challenge" for potential Republican presidential candidates due its apparent unpopularity: "Recent polls show 47% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the movement. So candidates looking for Tea Party votes have to be careful not to alienate moderates."

Midway through her report, after noting the would-be GOP presidential candidates, such as Tim Pawlenty and Donald Trump, who showed up at some of the weekend rallies, the correspondent turned to possible downside that these politicians might face in appealing to the Tea Party, playing up a result from a recent CNN/Opinion Dynamics poll:

CRAWFORD: ...In playing to the Tea Party, the potential candidates also will have a challenge. Recent polls show 47% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the movement. So candidates looking for Tea Party votes have to be careful not to alienate moderates.

JEFF ZELENY, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: That's what the White House is sure hoping, that all of these Republican presidential candidates are out there and sort of waving the flag of the Tea Party, and they believe that that will turn off independent voters.

What Crawford didn't mention that President Obama himself has a vulnerability with independent voters, given how another recent poll from Gallup found that the Democrat has 35% rating with this group.

Earlier, the CBS political reporter did fairly present the movement's opposition to further federal spending and how organizers scheduled the recent protests to coincide with Tax Day: "Today is the Tea Party movement's biggest day. I mean, it's the day people are most frustrated with their government, when they're sitting down and writing those checks to the IRS and thinking, you know, why am I paying all this money? Today really highlights the Tea Party's message, that politicians here in Washington are just out of control."

The full transcript of Jan Crawford's report, which aired 4 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Monday's Early Show:

Jan Crawford, CBS News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgCHRIS WRAGGE: Turning now to politics, members of the Tea Party movement will voice their frustration with the government on this Tax Day in rallies all across the country, this after a weekend of Tea Party gatherings featured a number of high-profile potential presidential candidates.

CBS News political correspondent Jan Crawford in Washington for us this morning with the latest- Jan, good morning.

JAN CRAWFORD: Good morning, Chris. Well, today is the Tea Party movement's biggest day. I mean, it's the day people are most frustrated with their government, when they're sitting down and writing those checks to the IRS and thinking, you know, why am I paying all this money? Today really highlights the Tea Party's message, that politicians here in Washington are just out of control.

CRAWFORD (voice-over): They're fed up with Washington, and sick of runaway spending. And at Tea Party rallies across the country this weekend, there were plenty of Republicans fighting for their support.

FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY: Let's send them this message: don't tread on me.

FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN: Real solidarity means coming together for the common good. This tea party is real solidarity.

CRAWFORD: Some, like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, are Tea Party favorites.

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN: They've been very excited, very encouraged about my potential candidacy, and I'm excited to be here with them.

CRAWFORD: And not to be left out, billionaire businessman Donald Trump made his first appearance at a Tea Party rally.

DONALD TRUMP: We have a man right now that almost certainly will go down as the worst president in the history of the United States.

CRAWFORD: No one knows if Trump is serious, but some early polls have him on top for the Republican nomination. He's gotten attention with his questions about whether President Obama was born in the United States, a widely discredited issue other Republican contenders have discarded.

(CBS News Graphic: "Tea Party Opinion: Unfavorable: 47%; Favorable: 32%; Source: CNN/Opinion Research; Margin of Error: +/- 3%")

But in playing to the Tea Party, the potential candidates also will have a challenge. Recent polls show 47% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the movement. So candidates looking for Tea Party votes have to be careful not to alienate moderates.

JEFF ZELENY, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: That's what the White House is sure hoping, that all of these Republican presidential candidates are out there and sort of waving the flag of the Tea Party, and they believe that that will turn off independent voters.


CRAWFORD (live): Now, this movement, of course, started just two years ago. So this will be the first presidential campaign these Tea Party voters can try to influence, and we, of course, don't know what kind of impact they will have in the fight over the Republican nomination. But some of these candidates are assuming that they're going to need these Tea Party votes to win. Chris?

WRAGGE: Well, Jan, let me ask you this, are all the prospective candidates out there fighting for these votes?

CRAWFORD: Well, that's a great question- I mean, not yet. We didn't see, for example, Mitt Romney, out at the big rallies this weekend, or another possible candidate, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. They're being a little more cautious. You know, they're trying to strike that balance, to reach out to those energized, conservative Tea Party voters, but then also appeal to some of the more moderate Republicans.

WRAGGE: CBS's Jan Crawford for us in Washington this morning- Jan, thanks.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center