Rick Santelli is the star of perhaps the most politically consequential online video, viral to the extreme, of the past year (right). On February 19, 2009 he let loose on the Obama administration's economic policies on CNBC's "Squawk Box", calling for a "tea party", and inspiring millions of Americans to speak out against what he and many others see as collectivist economics policies pursued by the President and Congress..
“That was spontaneous, absolutely,” he said in an interview with the Daily Caller. “It was also from the heart, and I had no idea of the direction it would take or the response it would get.”
Almost a year later, Santelli is widely seen as the godfather of a large political coalition that, according to some polls, rivals the two major parties in popularity. The Tea Party protesters staged 48 simultaneous protests on tax day last year, a rally on the lawn of the Capitol with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of attendees, and will hold its own convention this week, with Sarah Palin giving the keynote address.
Since Ron Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, would probably be the first to admit his political view are widely divergent from his father's it seems strange that he would put words in the Gipper's mouth about current events.
It's curious to see people in the mainstream media try to make sense of the Tea Party movement. The New York Times, which once called the Tea Parties a psychological phenomenon rather than a political movement, has now changed its tune.
In the wake of the stunning upset by Scott Brown in the Jan. 19 Massachusetts special election to fill the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy's death, the Times is attempting a more analytical look at the so-called "tea party tiger." Specifically, the Times looked at some key figures in the movement, Sen. Jim DeMint, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Fox News host Glenn Beck and CNBC CME group reporter Rick Santelli.
CNBC ‘Squawk Box' co-host Joe Kernen told Santelli about the Times story on Jan. 25.
NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday said the Tea Party movement has made it impossible for President Obama to buy the Republican votes he needs to pass his agenda.
Appearing on "Meet the Press," Todd told his fellow panelists, "I think the most striking thing about the minority party today...is that a Republican can't go home, and it's mostly because of this tea party crowd, cannot go home and sell a piece of pork that they got from Washington."
In Todd's view, this makes it tough for Obama because "it's not as if he can trade, you know, go and have these trades with a Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe, or let's say Lamar [Alexander]...or something like this, because they're not getting a benefit at home of bringing something back" (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
A small group of liberal talking heads may be realizing that opposition to Obama is not, in fact, wholly irrational. Though it would be a bit too hasty to proclaim it a trend among the mainstream media, it has been a refreshing break from the smears usually hurled at the right by the nation's pundits.
First was Chris Matthews, who stunningly turned right and voiced his concern about an excessively large federal government, as Noel Sheppard reported this morning. NBC's David Gregory also came to his senses today, and admitted--his prior statements notwithstanding--that the Tea Party movement has been advocating the same principles that led to Scott Brown's victory yesterday (h/t Mary Katherine Ham).
Speaking on this morning's Morning Joe, Gregory characterized yesterday's special election as a sincere populist backlash against unpopular policies. The election was "about incumbency and whether government's working for you," he said. "That's what really cuts through all this is whether government is working for the people. That's what's fueling the Tea Party movement."
MSNBC’s David Shuster on Wednesday used the victory of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts as another opportunity to trash the tea party movement. Teasing an interview with one of the organizers, he smeared, "The first anniversary of President Obama's inauguration. The Hitler mustaches and the Joker and everything else." [Audio available here.]
Talking with the grassroots director of FreedomWorks, Brendan Steinhauser, Shuster rejected the notion that the tea partiers are part of the political center. The host derided, "Right, but is it the dead center when you see signs like the signs that we just showed that are easy to find at a tea party protest of Obama as a Marxist? Obama as a socialist? Obama with a Hitler mustache?" A feisty Steinhauser repeatedly knocked down Shuster’s talking points: "Well, no. Those signs with Barack Obama as Hitler, that comes from Lyndon LaRouche PAC. It’s clearly on the sign and that’s a left-wing guy."
Regarding the Senate election in the Bay State, Shuster lamented, "Brown's win could be good news for the tea party movement, which didn't seem as frightening to independent voters in Massachusetts as Democrats had hoped."
An ad for a new Chris Matthews special featured the MSNBC host complaining about tea party protesters who are "threatened" by an African American President. As pictures of protests appeared onscreen, Matthews derided, "For the first time, we have an African American head of state. But, there’s always going to be people who challenge it, who are threatened by it."
The special, Obama’s America: 2010 and Beyond, will air live at 10pm on Monday. (The ad has been running all week on MSNBC.) It will include a town hall discussion and liberal radio host Tom Joyner. The announcer in the ad, perhaps previewing the program’s tone, wondered, "One year after the historic election, how have we changed?"
Charles Blow's op-ed in Saturday New York Times, "G.O.P. Grief and Grieving," offensively mocked the Tea Party protesters as rednecks and rather desperately and unconvincingly insisted, against current evidence (the Massachusetts Senate race, anyone?) that the conservative movement is in its death throes.
At least Blow recognizes that the tea party protesters are not partisan in nature but have major problems with the Republican establishment as well as President Obama:
The attack on the Republican establishment by the tea party folks grabs the gaze like a really bad horror flick -- some version of "Hee Haw" meets "28 Days Later." It's fascinating. But it also raises a serious question: Are these the desperate thrashings of a dying movement or the labor pains of a new one?
(I suspect Blow really wanted to compare the tea partiers to the banjo players in "Deliverance," but rejected the idea as too on-the-nose.)
The Times dispatched its political personality profiler and snarkster-in-chief Mark Leibovich to Florida to report on the hot race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez. In the course of his report, Leibovich ran into a conservative in a parking lot who showed "contempt" for the New York Times. (Wonder why?)
Moderate Gov. Charlie Crist looks set to battle insurgent conservative Marco Rubio in the Republican primary in late August. Leibovich's piece, "The First Senator From the Tea Party?" which will appear in the Times Magazine next Sunday, described the reporter's attendance at a Tea Party rally in Orlando, from which he dutifully filed anecdotes about racist attacks, bullying, and birther-paranoia on the part of conservatives.
First, Leibovich sat down with the "embattled Republican" Crist, the "pragmatist" battling "ideological purists" in his own party:
To many Republicans, the governor's biggest sin was his support for the Obama administration's $787 billion economic-stimulus package. That's what comes up the most, although a fair number of conservatives also blame Crist for his seemingly decisive endorsement of John McCain three days before the Florida primary in the 2008 presidential campaign, effectively handing the state to an eventual nominee for whom many conservatives had little use. They see Crist's career as pockmarked with instances of consensus-seeking, deal-making and bipartisanship -- three particularly vulgar notions to a simmering Tea Party movement on the right. Conservatives have tagged Crist as being part of that pariah breed of Republican today: a "moderate." Or worse.
Since the Tea Parties began early last year, MSNBC has been a strong and often caustic voice against their very existence.
On Tuesday, Ed Schultz continued the network's vitriolic attacks on average Americans protesting the direction of their country by calling Party goers "the wingnuts of America."
He also excoriated Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) for saying the GOP should embrace the Tea Party movement by claiming, "You would be redefining the Republican party as ignorant and hateful" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Story Balloon):
If there was ever any doubt National Public Radio had a political slant, check out the animated video posted on the network's Web site. That should clear up any doubt.
This video dated Nov. 12, 2009 was created by Mark Fiore, a political animator, who NPR reports is described by The Wall Street Journal as "the undisputed guru of the form." The video demonstrates for viewers how to speak "tea bag," which is a term lefties for whatever reason seem to find absolutely hilarious. (h/t Jesse Hathaway via Bob Parks). Transcript as follows:
Moderator: Finally, learning a new language doesn't have to be hard. You can be fluent in conversational tea bag in just a few short minutes. Lesson one: Don't get distracted by the confusing words of other languages. Character: I think the public option and the competition it would foster would really -- socialist, socialist. Moderator: Good, very good. Lesson two: If you're having trouble understanding the words of others or being understood yourself, use teabag's stronger, more descriptive words. Character: The Nazi, Nazi, Nazi
In keeping with the tradition of the holidays - the minds at MSNBC, the place for politics if you're of the lefty persuasion, decided rate the top 10 political stories of the decade.
And leading this gang of masters of the political journalism universe was "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, who on the broadcast of his Dec. 24 program, announced that conservative activism, mainly the tea party movement was the eighth biggest story of the decade - but labeled "angry white voters" (emphasis added).
"Welcome back to ‘Hardball' - our number eight political story of the decade, angry whites at town hall meetings across the country," Matthews said. "Lawmakers heard the wrath of angry voters."
On Dec. 22, when Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama announced he would be switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, it was to be expected MSNBC, the so-called "Place for Politics" would spin it in anyway imaginable. But Rachel Maddow decided to use the left's favorite boogeyman, the tea party movement, to denigrate conservatives and distract from what could be real problems for House Democrats.
Rachel Maddow on Friday played a video of a man in underwear banging his genitals against another man's forehead in a gay bar.
This was done to explain to her MSNBC audience the derivation of the term "teabagger," the sexually-charged double entendre that sadly became popular this spring and summer as Tea Parties swept the nation.
According to Maddow, "This is where "teabag" comes from. This is a clip from a 1998 film by John Waters that`s called 'Pecker.'"
As the dancer in the fictional gay bar squats to bang his genitals against a customer's forehead, the emcee played by Martha Plimpton says, "Hey, Larry, no teabagging. You know the rules. No balls on foreheads."
At least Maddow warned her viewers to "get the kids out of this room or put them in ear muffs and cover up their eyes" before she rolled the clip (video embedded below the fold with transcript, relevant section at 2:30, file photo):
A liberal Washington Post columnist laments today of the loss of civility in the public discourse. Strange that he is suddenly outraged that Americans would dare call Obama a socialist or a fascist, given that Bush-Hitler comparisons were widespread during the previous administration.
Liberals in the media spent the summer and early fall bemoaning signs at town hall protests and tea party rallies calling Obama a socialist or communist comparing him to Hitler (incidentally, many of these signs were actually created by supporters of uber-leftist Lyndon LaRouche, as reported by Seton Motley here and here). These pundits had no such admonitions for signs at anti-war rallies during the Bush administration comparing him to Hitler and the Devil, and calling the president a fascist.
So the Post's E.J. Dionne's complaints about the loss of civility in the debate over federal politics fit right in with the narrative liberal pundits have been pushing since last year: comparing an American president to a murderous dictator is unacceptable...if that president is a Democrat.
CBS devoted half of Sunday's Face the Nation to the pressing question of “divisions within the Republican Party: Is there room for moderates?” Fill-in host Harry Smith of the Early Show allowed guests Dick Armey and Ed Gillespie plenty of time to reject his premise, but he forwarded the media's widely-held presumption in a series of statements as he simply cued up Dede Scozzafava, the Republican who endorsed the Democrat in the special New York House race: “Do you think you were too moderate?”
To Armey and Gillespie, Smith cited a list of principles some in the GOP want candidates to agree to in order to earn party support, and then posed a series of loaded questions, such as, “Is this litmus test a good idea?” and “some have called it a suicide pact,” as well as: “Is moderate a dirty word now in the Republican Party?” Smith was also bewildered anyone could consider South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham inadequately conservative: “Can someone with that kind of credentials be not conservative enough?”
Smith told Armey “some people suggest that the Republicans are fighting a demographic battle that they can't win, that this is going to end up being exclusionary...”
On Monday’s Situation Room, Suzanne Malveaux became the latest CNN personality to use the offensive “teabagger” label to describe opponents of ObamaCare. Malveaux asked senior political analyst Gloria Borger, “Do we expect to see the kinds of big rallies and...the circus atmosphere that we saw...over the summer when you were talking about controversial policy, ‘teabaggers’ and all that other thing?” [audio clip available here]
The CNN anchor and correspondent, serving a substitute for the vacationing Wolf Blitzer, questioned Borger about the upcoming battle over health care “reform” in the Senate, after a 60-39 vote over the weekend to begin debate over the Democrats’ bill. Her use of the vulgar term came 14 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour:
One of the media members who made the disgusting term "teabagger" popular did a victory lap Tuesday after the New Oxford American Dictionary declared the epithet a finalist for its 2009 Word of the Year.
Like a child giggling as he tries to say "truck" with his fingers in his mouth, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was not only visibly pleased with himself as a result of this announcement, he also used the occasion to juvenilely offer his tiny "Countdown" audience numerous double entendres in perverse celebration.
The following makes one wonder if THIS is what the White House considers REAL NEWS (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Hot Air):
On Monday’s American Morning, CNN’s Jim Acosta rehashed a three-month-old report from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center about the apparent rise in militia activity in the U.S., and extensively featured a militia from Michigan whose members purportedly “could not specify which of their constitutional rights are being peeled away.”
Acosta didn’t use any specific ideological labels to classify the militias during his report, which aired just before the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, but it was clear that the featured militia, the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, held right-of-center views, as its members expressed concern about gun rights, anti-Obama sentiment, and even flew the yellow Gadsden flag (with its “Don’t Tread on Me” slogan) featured at Tea Party protests. The Gadsden flag showed up in many of the clips of the militia during the CNN correspondent’s report, which was the first in a series titled “Patriots or Extremists.” The Tea Party tie was reenforced with a shot of a truck of one of the militia members, which had a sticker of the famous “Obama as the Joker” image on it.
Remember those free health care clinics MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow played up back in October after Olbermann's hour-long "Special Comment," about Republican opposition to ObamaCare and/or PelosiCare?
Well, now it's time for their brand of AstroTurf to be put into action. On MSNBC's Nov. 13 "Countdown," fill-in host Lawrence O'Donnell raised the issue about the potential opposition Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., might have over the current health care legislation being debated in the U.S. Senate. And, Landrieu so happens to represent Louisiana, the site of one of Olbermann's politicized free health care clinics.
"Republicans, in a new ad, are targeting conservative Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana for indicating she might, might, allow health care to come up for up or down vote on the Senate floor," O'Donnell said.
Just over a week after using the term “far right” three times in a row in one night, CNN’s Larry King used the term “right wing” three times during an interview of Al Gore on his program on Thursday. King first questioned Gore about “the rise of the right wing” and “right wing radio” in the context of the health care debate, and later asked the former vice president, “ Is the right wing bigger than its bite?”
The CNN host lead his hour-long interview with Gore with a ringing endorsement of the Democrat’s new book: “We are so honored to welcome back Al Gore to the show, the former vice president of the United States and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the best-selling author, all in one person. His new book is ‘Our Choice.’ There you see it. It’s a plan to solve the climate crisis, and it is brilliantly put together.”
Thirteen minutes into the 9 pm Eastern hour, King raised the issue of the Tea Parties with Gore: “What do you make of the rise of the right wing, these rallies and dealing with health care- we’ll move to health care in a minute. Right-wing radio- they take you on pretty good.” As you might expect the “green godfather” (as Katie Couric put it) hinted the anti-ObamaCare activists were being unreasonable: “Well yeah, it’s not entirely new in American politics. We have had a strain like this in our politics for a long time, and there are extreme voices all along the ideological spectrum. And we just have to focus on building the health and strength of our democracy and hope that the voices of reason and deliberation will prevail.”
You might not have known it from the lack of coverage on Thursday, but Tea Partiers rallying at Capitol Hill were joined by at least one celebrity ObamaCare critic, actor Jon Voight, who denounced the requirement forcing Americans to buy health insurance under penalty of law as unconstitutional.
Back during the George W. Bush era, the media often hyped the criticism of the Iraq War effort by liberals in Hollywood, playing up the political credibility of actors like Mike Farrell (best known for his role in the long-running TV series "M*A*S*H") who waxed philosophical on the justness or necessity of that war's effort.
Yet even though it's a rarity to find conservatives in Hollywood, much less politically vocal ones like Voight, the ones that are vocal critics of the Obama administration are all but ignored by the mainstream media.
"[I] think we're building a stairway to heaven in Dow prices on the back of paper and I think that, you know it seems kind of dire to me that 8 percent - 8,000, 9 percent - 9,000, 10.2 - 10,000," Santelli said. "I shudder to think where the unemployment rate is going to be at 11 and 12,000 in the Dow."
Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on "Hannity" last night and talked about the Fort Hood shooting as well as the conservative rally at the Capitol yesterday which drew thousands on short notice. [see video embedded at right]
Regarding the latter Bozell quipped, "Spontaneous combustion! This wasn't an instant tea party. This was a coffee urn exploding."
"There's something huge going on out there. And if people on Capitol Hill don't want to pay attention to them, fine, they'll become private citizens just like I am," Bozell added.
As to the Fort Hood shooting, Bozell noted that the attack reminds us "that we're up against some pretty awful stuff in this world today, some pretty evil stuff."
This morning, Bozell returned to Fox News's New York headquarters to chat with the hosts of "Fox & Friends."
You can watch the entire interview in the embedded video below the page break:
Despite the mass shooting at Fort Hood, the ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts Thursday night squeezed in full stories pegged to a “kill the bill” anti-Pelosi/ObamaCare rally outside the U.S. Capitol attended by “angry protesters” as all the stories also stressed how President Obama got a “boost” from “big,” “powerful” “key” and “major” endorsements from the AARP and AMA.
NBC's Brian Williams contrasted “big endorsements by two influential groups” with “a big, noisy rally urging lawmakers to just say no,” while reporter Kelly O'Donnell minimized the conservative event as “a few thousand protesters.” ABC's Jonathan Karl, however, recognized how “the hastily-planned protest drew one of the largest crowds in memory for a congressional event. The crowd extends all the way up around to the House side of the building, across to the Senate side, literally surrounding the western front of the Capitol.”
NBC's Kelly recounted how the House bill would “expand health coverage to 96 percent of Americans, and create government-backed insurance called a public option. Today that plan won a powerful endorsement. AARP, the lobby group for Americans over 50, signed on and showed off boxes of supportive petitions” and that was “followed by another boost, the doctors' lobby, the American Medical Association.”
CNN’s Roland Martin picked up where Anderson Cooper left off on Monday’s AC360, claiming that there’s “the beginnings of a civil war” in the GOP and that Tea Party protesters “want to radicalize the right” in the party. Martin also claimed that the Democrats are more of a “big tent” than Republicans: “You have a Democratic Party that has no problem having liberal...moderate...and conservative Democrats.”
The liberal political contributor appeared with Tea Party Express’s Mark Williams for two segments starting three minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour. Cooper first sought Martin’s take on the New York 23rd congressional district race. Unsurprisingly, he forwarded the Chris Matthews/mainstream media spin on the contest: “There is no doubt you are seeing the beginnings of a civil war play out, in terms of folks who are saying that we do not want moderates, in terms of being involved in this party.”
Later in the segment, after Williams highlighted how Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava endorsed Democrat Bill Owens after she withdrew from the New York 23 race, Martin struck back with his “big tent” claim about the Democrats: “You talk about endorsing a Democrat. I’m sure Mark has no problem with former Democrat Joe Lieberman saying he’s going to campaign for Republican candidates....You have a Democratic Party that has no problem having liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, and conservative Democrats. What Republicans are saying is, we don’t want any liberal or moderate Republicans. We only want conservative Republicans, and you cannot expand a party nationally only having just conservative Republicans. You’re not going to win long-term.”
On Monday’s AC360, CNN’s Anderson Cooper forwarded the media’s new talking point about the New York 23 congressional race, that “Tea Party protesters and other conservative voices are...driving moderates out of the GOP.” Correspondent Tom Foreman continued on this note, stating that “angry conservatives...[are] forcing the party to choose between...its base and attracting more moderate Americans.”
Cooper led the 10 pm Eastern hour of his program with the question, “Does the Republican Party have room for moderates?” The anchor outlined that “state and local elections tomorrow may have profound national effects, and President Obama and Sarah Palin are a big part of it. Two governor’s races may test the President’s ability to get others elected or turn into a referendum on his presidency.” He continued with the media’s new spin on the electoral contests, as if it was a matter of fact: “As for Sarah Palin, she, Tea Party protesters and other conservative voices are front and center, driving moderates out of the GOP.”
CNN’s Candy Crowley made an oblique reference to her colleague Anderson Cooper’s infamous “teabagger” remark on Monday’s Situation Room. As she reported on the race in New York’s 23rd congressional district, Crowley referred to Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman as “the choice of many on the right, including Sarah Palin, former House leader Dick Armey and ‘tea bag partyers’” [audio clips available here].
The CNN political correspondent detailed the different key races up in the November 3 election at the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour, including the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial campaigns. She closed her report with the New York contest: “And by way of marquee races, it’s hard to beat the soap opera of New York’s 23rd congressional district, where the Republican moderate dropped out over the weekend, leaving the race to a conservative, Doug Hoffman, the choice of many on the right, including Sarah Palin, former House leader Dick Armey and ‘tea bag partyers.’”
Sunday's gay rights rally on Capitol Hill garnered a positive story on the first page of Monday's New York Times National section by reporter Jeremy Peters, "New Generation of Gay Rights Advocates March to Put Pressure on the President." Peters claimed that "tens of thousands" had gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol Sunday to prod Barack Obama to move more aggressively to promote greater equality for gays.
Unlike the paper's hostile coverage of the "tea party" and "9/12" rallies by anti-spending conservatives, the Times's relatively prominent (page A12) coverage of the gay rights rally displayed no hostility toward the beliefs of the protestors and didn't label them liberal, even though a photo slideshow at nytimes.com featured images of Socialist Worker party members marching in solidarity.