RNC Chairman Michael Steele shot back at CNN’s Wolf Blitzer after the anchor tried to smear conservatives with racism on Wednesday’s Situation Room. The CNN anchor pointed out a racist sign at a Tea Party, and Steele replied, “Don’t hold up one person as an example of behavior by everyone.” The RNC chairman also rebuked Blitzer after the anchor pointed out the GOP’s dearth of minorities in Congress [audio clips from the segment are available here].
Before he introduced Steele, Blitzer played a clip from former President Jimmy Carter, who attributed “overwhelming portion of the intensely-demonstrated animosity towards President Barack Obama” to racism. He then asked the RNC chairman for his take on the Democrat’s remarks. Steele replied that Carter was “just dead wrong....I am, like a lot of Americans, concerned and disagree with the President’s policies and approaches from the stimulus spending to this health care strategy. Am I a racist because I disagree with that? I don’t think so.”
After systematically ignoring the outrageous and offensive signs used by leftist protesters at anti-war demonstrations journalists and bloggers are now devoting an immense amount of attention to a small minority of Tea Party protesters carrying signs far outside of the mainstream.
Liberal bloggers were also incensed with what they claimed were the hateful (and racist) intentions of the protesters. Matt Yglesias at Think Progress noted the miniscule presence of Confederate Flags and pondered why demonstrators were "waving flags of treason and slavery". Other bloggers at TP complained of the "hate at the protest."
ABC and NBC on Tuesday night joined the effort to undermine the anti-Obama tea party participants by smearing them as racists as ABC framed a story around the proposition “some prominent Obama supporters are now saying” the opposition to Obama is “driven, in part, by a refusal to accept a black President,” while NBC anchor Brian Williams touted how “former President Carter spoke up and spoke out about” the supposed racism. Williams alleged “a certain number of signs and images at last weekend's big tea party march in Washington and at other recent events have featured racial and other violent themes and President Carter today said he is extremely worried by it.” (MP3 audio of Williams, Video below)
With “OUT OF LINE?” on screen beneath what appeared to be pictures from the August town halls, ABC anchor Charles Gibson set up the piece from Dan Harris who recited a litany of liberal presumptions:
They've waved signs likening President Obama to Hitler and the devil, raised questions about whether he was really born in this country, falsely accused him of planning to set up death panels, decried his speech to students as indoctrination and called him everything from a fascist to a socialist to a communist. And all that was before Mr. Obama's speech was interrupted by a Representative who once fought to keep the Confederate flag waving over the South Carolina state house. Add it all up, and some prominent Obama supporters are now saying that it paints a picture of an opposition driven, in part, by a refusal to accept a black President. (MP3 audio,Video below)
Brian Maloney at The Radio Equalizer blog noticed a development over the summer that seems to have escaped much of the news media: In a whole bunch of major radio markets -- from New York City to San Diego, with St. Louis in between -- Rush Limbaugh's listenership has surged: “As frustration with Obama's policies reached a boiling point during August, Americans clearly turned to Rush for help,” but “the state-run media has yet to take notice.”
Specifically, for KFI-AM in Los Angeles, Arbitron reported Limbaugh “gained a full share point overall, from 5.9 to 6.9 to take first place with a weekly cume of 635,700 listeners. With men 35-64, the jump was from 4.7 to 5.6. In the 11am hour, Rush pulled in a mammoth 6.3.” Yet, Maloney observed:
Judging by the coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register and Los Angeles Business Journal, this feat was somehow accomplished without the help of the medium's star performer, Rush Limbaugh. In covering the achievement, the latter two publications didn't even mention Rush, while the Times noted Limbaugh only in passing deep into one story and left him out of another entirely.
You might have figured this was coming, that when dust settled from the Sept. 12 march on Washington, D.C., the brain trust at MSNBC would attempt to frame it as negatively as possible.
And MSNBC's resident left-wing curmudgeon-in-training David Shuster didn't disappoint. The former host of the canceled "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" took a report from the Huffington Post debunking attendance figures and attempted to belittle the event. The story focused on an old photograph that had been circulating on some minor conservative blogs showing a huge crowd for the Sept. 12 march.
Shuster asked Washington Examiner columnist and author of "The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money" if some conservative blogs were going to circulate a phony photo, why should the movement have any credibility? But Carney didn't take the bait and instead showed that MSNBC and other mainstream media outlets were committing a similar offense.
There's no doubt the so-called mainstream media turned their collective noses up at the Sept. 12 march on Washington, D.C. to protest the policies of Democratic-controlled federal government - whether in the form of denigration, downplay or outright ignoring the event.
However, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has suggested a different tactic. On his Sept. 14 show, Limbaugh proposed a future round of these grassroots protests not take place at the seats of power in government, but instead the headquarters and outposts of the local and national media.
"There have been hundreds and thousands of protests by conservative groups that haven't been covered, and tiny turnouts by the left that are covered," Limbaugh said. "You know all this as well as I do. What about this? We're looking for a force multiplier. Yeah, the protest in Washington on Saturday was great, two million people, but imagine what a force multiplier would be if the next one were held outside of local and national television networks and their headquarters where they can't miss it?"
CNN's efforts to smear Obama critics as racist gained visibility on Monday's Situation Room when the usually more sensible Wolf Blitzer, with “RACIAL TINGE TO TEA MOVEMENT” as the on-screen heading, set up a story on how, “most disturbing,” within the tea party crowds there's “a very small but vocal minority, they're targeting President Obama's race.” Though reporter Elaine Quijano said “we have to emphasize by far most tea party protesters are not casting their arguments in what could be seen as a racial light,” she nonetheless proceeded to treat as newsworthy how “a small but passionate minority is also voicing what some see as racist rhetoric.”
In decrying the racism, CNN gave national cable air time to what she described as a “controversial image that's been circulating on the Web since July,” a “doctored image circulating on the Internet and even some protesters signs like this one in Brighton, Michigan, portraying President Obama as a witch doctor.” Brighton, Michigan? So, not at the more newsworthy big national event Saturday in DC I presume.
Quijano soon went to Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page who saw race as the common denominator: “People are not just mad at Obama. They're mad at Jesse Jackson, they're mad at Reverend Wright, they're made at Al Sharpton, they're mad at people who have nothing to do with Obama except they all happen to be black.” Without questioning the supposition, Quijano warned: “Page says the vehement racial resistance that's emerged is another sign any notion of a post-racial society after Barack Obama's election was wishful thinking.”
CNN’s Jim Spellman did his best to paint the participants of the Tea Party Express’s rallies across the nation in late August and early September as a bunch of extremists on Saturday’s Newsroom. Spellman played clips which zeroed-in on the protesters who called President Obama a Nazi, carried guns, or forwarded “outlandish conspiracy theories,” and labeled all of them “a dark undercurrent.”
The CNN journalist followed the Tea Party Express organization’s bus caravan during its 2 week journey across the United States, and the thirty-plus rallies held where it stopped. Spellman appeared just after the beginning of the 5 pm Eastern hour of Newsroom, and first played clips from seven men and six women who participated in these rallies. Six of the thirteen clips came from people who could be portrayed as “extreme,” as anchor Don Lemon put it, included one who referred to a “Gestapo-type tactic” and another who carried an AK-47:
Not everyone at the NBC Universal umbrella of networks got the gag order memo about the Sept. 12 march on Washington, D.C.
Rick Santelli, who has been a target of the Obama White House and is credited with being the inspiration for the 2009 tea party movement, spoke out about how the media ignored the march. But, a year after the fall of Lehman Brothers, he was making the larger point that the government's intervention to thwart a financial crisis had been an ineffectual and potentially dangerous maneuver at the expense of taxpayers.
"I think this one-year anniversary is great, but I think it's great for another reason," Santelli said on CNBC's Sept. 14 "Squawk Box." "I think someday we'll learn that we didn't need to do very much, that time heals all wounds and you don't have to go broke in the process."
On Sunday, the home page of the Washington Post website buried the 9-12 rally in tiny type, while the rotating photos at the top of the page were all local stories. On Monday, one of those rotating photos highlighted a Post story on the front of the Metro section on how people attending the Black Family Reunion think that tens of thousands of Americans came to Washington not because they love freedom, but because they hate black people. Metro reporter Yamiche Alcindor began:
On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters thronged to the U.S. Capitol to angrily accuse President Obama of taking the country in the wrong direction. A day later, in the shadow of the Washington Monument, many participants at a much smaller gathering -- the 24th annual Black Family Reunion -- said the level of hostility toward the nation's first African American president had little to do with policy differences over health care or taxes and everything to do with race.
"It' s not conducive to the coalitions we need to build in this country," said Vera Hope, 60, of Mount Rainier as she left a booth promoting health prevention. "I'm disgusted and upset by the hostility. Let's call it was it is -- it's just a disguise for right-wing racists. They are fomenting a climate of violence to provoke people."
Aside from protesters taking on CNN reporter Lisa Desjardins, as NewsBusters Matt Sheffield pointed out, there were also other pockets of backlash against media evident at the march, which were captured on video (pardon my shoddy camera work).
The march that preceded the rally in front of the U.S. Capitol took place on Pennsylvania Avenue, from Freedom Plaza to the West Lawn of the Capitol went directly in front of the Newseum, a building erected that supposedly honors those deemed the most important practitioners of the First Amendment - the news media. Marchers chanted, "Shame on the press," as they passed the colossal 250,000-square-foot building dedicated to the press situated between the White House and the U.S. Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue. (0:17)
Left-wing “comedian” Bill Maher is setting the news agenda for CNN. Literally. With “Motivated by Race?” on screen, CNN anchor Don Lemon previewed his 7 PM hour Saturday night by citing Joe Wilson, “town hallers yelling at lawmakers” and those “refusing to let kids hear the commander in chief. And on and on and on. What's behind it? Is it racial?”
In the subsequent segment, Lemon revealed his motivation was Maher, who Friday night on his HBO show charged racism drove Wilson's “you lie” shout and those concerned about Obama's address to school children (NewsBusters item). Lemon announced: “I was watching Real Talk, Real Time with Bill Maher and I was like 'finally someone's talking about this, finally someone is talking about this.'”
Friday night on his HBO show, Bill Maher tried to discredit critics of President Barack Obama, including those concerned about his talk to school children, by smearing them as racists – before he pointed to a Drudge Report headline, “POLL HELL: OBAMA NEGS RISE,” as somehow an example of the ways “some of the right-wingers are always dropping subliminally racist messages.”
Maher first took up Congressman Joe Wilson's “you lie” shout at Obama: “To heckle a President, to shout in the middle of a speech, would he have done that if it was a white President? I don't think so. I think this is a southern guy who thinks 'I can do whatever I want when it's a black guy speaking.'”
Moments later on Real Time, Maher raised “the folks who did not want the President of the United States to speak to their children. No one who is sane would think the President was going to make a partisan speech to school children. And yet, there's something about that,” recalling “I grew up in an all-white town in northern New Jersey” and “I remember hearing parents talk when I was a kid, you know, they didn't want black people just talking to their kids. That's what this reminded me of.”
Usually it is easy ignore the commentary from that great bastion of cultural insight, known as the gossip Web site Gawker. But every now and then, even Gawker steps over the line.
In a Sept. 11 post by Alex Pareene that was allegedly meant to reflect on the passing of eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pareene launched into a hate-and-expletive-filled anti-President George W. Bush, anti-conservative and anti-Glenn Beck attack in his post. His first assault was on the prior administration.
"Shortly after (or maybe during) that day, our president at the time, a little [expletive] no one liked, handed over the reins to the most psychotic elements of his administration," Pareene said. "In the vast national wave of jingoism, paranoia, dread, and fear that followed, he and his friends led us into an unrelated war they'd been planning beforehand, allowed the CIA to wiretap and torture anyone they liked (and encouraged the CIA to wiretap and torture even more than they were comfortable with!), and regularly insisted that our memory of that day should not be sullied with critical thinking or expressions of anything other than still-palpable fear."
It's been nearly seven months since CNBC reporter Rick Santelli took a stand against the Obama administration, which inspired the tea party movement - and the White House hasn't forgotten.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked by CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood why the administration decided to go after Santelli after his Feb. 19 call for a metaphorical revolt over President Barack Obama's economic policies.
"Truthfully, one primary reason," Gibbs said in comments aired on CNBC's Sept. 4 "Squawk on the Street." "And that was - I thought the argument that he was making was both disingenuous and not based on the facts. It was clear that Rick was very passionate about the issue. And look, we have differing opinions from both sides of the political aisle. It was clear to me that the argument that he was making wasn't based on him having actually read our plan."
A country boy can survive the Obama administration. Just ask Hank Williams, Jr.
The country music artist -- best known to millions of Americans regardless of their musical taste for his "Are You Ready For Some Football?" theme to Monday Night Football -- was profiled yesterday by Bill Lynch of the Charleston [W.V.] Gazette (h/t my NB colleague Tim Graham).
Lynch spent a considerable portion of his profile focused on Williams's politics, including his upcoming gig at a Labor Day TEA Party:
You probably already knew Jeanane Garofalo was no fan of conservatives, Republicans or just about anything that could be described as right of center. But the former Air America host and MSNBC regular really has a low regard for conservative activists.
Who says the media are monolithic in their thinking?
Yesterday we informed you of the media's serial misuse of an Obama-as-Hitler poster from esoteric left-winger Lyndon LaRouche's website, as outlets like NBC (on their Nightly News and Meet the Press), CNN and MSNBC all ascribed the poster to sentiments roiled up by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh specifically and conservatives generally.
We were entertained by the fact that all of these highly trained, keen-eyed journalists missed the words "LaRouchePAC.com" - in fairly large type - printed at the bottom of every one of the placards they used for their little reporting projects.
Well apparently CBS hasn't yet learned the lesson we had hoped to impart. In fact, last night they did the other networks one worse.
For the words "LaRouchPAC.com" are prominently visible three times (screen captures below the fold) on two different Obama-as-Hitler posters during reporter Ben Tracy's segment, yet that doesn't stop him from blaming it on right-wingers.
As the second Obama-as-Hitler poster is shown, with LaRouchePAC.com clearly visible front and center, Tracy offers up:
(Earlier today, Clay Waters covered Krugman's column for NewsBusters here.)
The group (full disclosure: I work for the National Center for Public Policy Research, which sponsors Project 21) has also called on President Obama to condemn "this effort to stifle debate with race-baiting tactics" as well as "all efforts to derail legitimate public debate."
Krugman's column drew the following specific comments from Project 21 members:
That pretty much sums up the attitude of the Kossacks at the Daily Kos. However, unlike the Mel Brooks version of King Louis XVI in "History of the World: Part I," the Kossacks are fearful, deeply fearful, of the people. They are worried that the Tea Party protesters who show up at the town hall meetings conducted by members of Congress might derail Obamacare due to the large turnouts and vehemence of their protests as you can see in this thread posted by Kossack icebergslim:
Sure, it is a bunch of nuts or really UNINFORMED constituents who are buying into the argument of the NON-ARGUMENT of the Republican Party for health care reform.
The Obama White House needs to get out of the bubble and get real here. We all know that the lobbyists and insurance companies are ARMED TO THE NINES to defeat any health care reform, UNLESS THEY WRITE IT. Since they can not WRITE IT, they will destroy it. Simple as that.
Why is this dangerous?
These folks are ON TELEVISION, getting eyeballs, and making traction. Worried yet? Sure, it may be just a few, but a few can rollerball into many. The Democrats have not sold the health care reform argument because there is no f---ing bill by them. Are we shooting the bullets into our feet yet?
CNN correspondent Carol Costello aired a fair report on Friday’s American Morning about the several states which passed resolutions that asserted their rights under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and asked for viewer responses on the issue, but later stated that her “favorite [viewer] comment so far...‘asking for states’ rights is asking, you know, the children to be the parents’” [audio clips from the report are available here].
Costello began her report, which aired just before the bottom of the 6 am Eastern hour, with the question, “should states’ rights trump the fed?” She also highlighted the premise that “the concept of states’ rights is as old as America.”
The CNN correspondent used three sound bites from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s speech to a tea party in April 2009, which was widely circulated around the Internet. She also featured clips from an Republican state legislator from Oklahoma and a constitutional law professor.
On Friday, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall exclaimed: "Harsh political discourse against [President Obama] really amped up and people started to push the boundaries of what might be considered decency. From talk radio to those tea parties that we saw with some pretty offensive signs folks were holding, even in the presence of children. The anger has certainly intensified."
As evidence of the supposed lack of "decency" co-anchor David Shuster declared: "And so listen to Glenn Beck make his case against health care reform just yesterday on his radio show, watch." The audio clip that followed featured Beck yelling at a hostile caller during his Wednesday show.
Based on that one example, Shuster wondered: "So are the political attacks, is the language, is the discourse, going too far? And does it have real consequences?" He then teased another segment on the topic in the next hour, but it was preempted by live coverage of President Obama speaking on health care reform.
CNN sent its deputy political editor Paul Steinhauser to Capitol Hill on Saturday morning to file a few reports from a Fourth of July Tea Party protest at Upper Senate Park. In no way did he repeat Susan Roesgen’s infamously combative "this is not really family viewing" fight with protesters, and Anderson Cooper was nowhere to be found with raunchy "teabagging" jokes. Anchor Brooke Baldwin did suggest they needed to go home at some point: "Of course, exercising that First Amendment right to protest, but hopefully, they'll clear out of the way for the fireworks tonight."
In the 11 am hour, Steinhauser straightforwardly explained the organizers’ aims:
STEINHAUSER: This is -- these tea parties, as they're called, they're being held -- their Web site says, at about 1,500 places across the country. This is round two. If you remember, there were tea parties, rallies, on April 15th, Tax Day. And that's really what this is all about. TEA stands for "taxed enough already." Our CNN Team here spoke to some in the rally crowd. Take a listen to what they had to say.
Dallas Morning News’s Wayne Slater become one of the first pundits after the shootings at the Holocaust Museum on Wednesday to hint that there was a connection to mainstream conservative activists. On CNN Newsroom, about two hours after the story broke, Slater linked this incident and the murder of abortionist George Tiller with “anti-tax secessionists in Texas,” his label for Tea Party protesters.
Anchor Rick Sanchez moderated a panel discussion on the Holocaust Museum shootings after the bottom of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, in which Slater participated. Sanchez asked the Dallas Morning News political writer if criminals like this suspect are “motivated or do they need to be motivated?” He replied, not including the shooting of Tiller, but reaching back to include the Oklahoma City bombing perpetuated by Timothy McVeigh:
SLATER: They absolutely need to be motivated and are being motivated. Each of these episodes in recent weeks- whether it’s [the] killing of an abortion doctor- whether it was this Holocaust denier today, or whether it was others- whether you’re talking about Tim McVeigh or anti-tax secessionists in Texas- the interesting thing is they’re all separate, but they’re all hearing portions of the same echo chamber, a kind of dialogue- a toxic dialogue that’s subterranean in large parts. Remember, the man who was accused- who is accused of the most recent shooting of the abortion doctor, according to his ex-wife, had connections with the Montana Freemen, a kind of wild radical secessionist group. You hear not only these conversations about blacks and Jews, but about the government and about other hate-filled issues. It is- although they are separate- they are connected by a kind of dialogue of toxic ideology.
At first it was reported that President Barack Obama wasn't even aware of the nationwide Tea Party protests that occurred on April 15. But now he's out criticizing them and the Fox News Channel.
In a town hall meeting in St. Louis on April 29, Obama was asked about fiscal discipline and entitlement reform. In his response, he took a shot at the Fox News Channel and the tea party movement, insisting he's "happy to have a serious conversation" with them.
"So, when you see - those of you who are watching certain news channels that on which I'm not very popular and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security," Obama said.
Last week we profiled a large swath of the media's coverage of the TEA Parties. Well, for those who wondered: how did Time and Newsweek cover the tea parties? The answer is: Barely. Time's April 27 issue carried less than 100 words up front in the Briefing section. There was a photo of a protester -- in Thailand.
Newsweek's April 27 issue carried this very strange entry in the "Conventional Wisdom Watch" box. Tea parties drew a down arrow, with this text: "Protest high taxes after largest tax cut ever [??] -- and miss 'tea bag' double entendre."
Howard Fineman's column on page 31 was largely devoted to the tea parties, although he was not impressed. Under a small photo of a rally, the caption was "STRANGE BREW: Tea parties won't revive the national party."
Fineman said that as well: "Tea parties, of course, will not revive the national party. So what will? There is no one-stop Republican inner circle with all the answers."
It has been something that there have been rumblings about, but no one has really put the x's and o's together entirely - that General Electric (NYSE:GE) is using its media arm, NBC Universal to promote President Barack Obama's so-called progressive agenda for its own financial gain.
However, as just previewed by Amy Ridenour, Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly attempted to do so at the top of his April 23 "The O'Reilly Factor" broadcast during his "Talking Points Memo" segment. O'Reilly outlined how Obama has gotten support from the NBC networks both pre-election and post-election.
"Will General Electric get paid for supporting President Obama - that is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo," O'Reilly said. "As everybody knows, GE, which owns NBC has been very aggressive in helping Barack Obama - first supporting the president in the election and now attacking his critics."
On April 21, the Business and Media Institute's Dan Gainor testified before the House Judiciary Committee's Courts and Competition Policy in a hearing on "A New Age for Newspapers."
As MRC's Tim Graham wrote on April 22, the hearing was spurred by the steady drumbeat of newspaper closings around the country, and calls from some Democrat lawmakers to bail out and subsidize the newspaper business.
While others testified on newsprint business models and the impact of the Internet, Gainor's statement to the subcommittee highlighted liberal bias as a major factor in the industry's decline. "The concept of a journalist as a neutral party has become a punch line for a joke, not a guideline for an industry," he said.