Ladies and Gentlemen, The Lamestream Media The media coverage of the more than 800 Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party protests that took place in all fifty states on April 15 ranged from disdainful dismissal of their nature, significance and import, to outright hostility towards the events and individual participants, to sexual innuendo-based full-on ridicule.
In this summary, we focused on the three major networks - NBC, ABC and CBS, the two left-of-center cable news networks - CNN and MSNBC and the three major "national" newspapers - the USA Today, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
While not an exhaustively comprehensive oeuvre of TEA Party bias, it contains many, many examples which serve to illustrate the broader antipathetic themes.
"MSNBC News Live" host Norah O'Donnell on Wednesday dismissed the tea party rallies that took place across the country last week as "top down" and not organic, prompting a complaint from a Republican strategist over the network's coverage. The discussion arose during an interview with GOP strategist Karen Hanretty and a Democratic operative over the leadership of the Republican Party.
After Hanretty asserted that the tea parties were an example of grass roots conservative leadership, O'Donnell retorted, "Karen, what was organic about the tea party protest? Those were not from the ground up." She went on to label the nationwide events "top down," which prompted Hanretty to quip, "No. I know MSNBC likes to promote that those were top down, but that's not the case at all." (MSNBC hosts were relentless in their attacks on the the parties. Most famously, "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann on April 16 talked to actress Janeane Garofalo, who deemed the demonstrations racist.)
How is it that MSNBC's Rachel Maddow toiled for years as a student before before earning a doctorate in political science at Oxford -- yet managed to avoid studying the American Civil War?
How else to explain Maddow's commentary last Thursday in response to tea party protests nationwide against dubious tax policy and runaway government spending?
Here's what Maddow said in previewing an upcoming segment --
Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, appears to have his sights set on higher office. What is higher office if you're already governor in Texas? Of course, that would be president of Texas. The return of Confederacy in American politics as seceding from the Union comes back into Republican fashion.
Yeah, I laughed too -- "Republican fashion"? Those pundits at MSNBC make the darndest claims, don't they?
When American citizens assert conservative principles, as they did last week with the tea party protests, it has a strange effect on liberals. They get angry. Some get in touch with their inner Beavis and Butthead, giggling endlessly over lame sexual innuendo. Some, like Rolling Stone political reporter Matt Taibbi, just get downright misogynistic.
In a blog post on tax day, Taibbi sleazed conservative writer Michelle Malkin, who supported and wrote about the tea parties. “I have to say, I’m really enjoying this whole teabag thing,” Taibbi wrote. “It’s really inspiring some excellent daydreaming. For one thing, it’s brought together the words teabag and Michelle Malkin for me in a very powerful, thrilling sort of way. Not that I haven’t ever put those two concepts together before, but this is the first time it’s happened while in the process of reading her actual columns.”
Taibbi then paused to slime Ann Coulter (“When you read Ann Coulter, you know you’re reading someone who would f*** a hippopotamus if she thought it would boost her Q rating.”) before really turning on the charm.
Despite all the criticisms of the Fox News Channel broadcasted on MSNBC for promoting tea party coverage, one thing hasn't been pointed out - how the NBC networks, including CNBC and MSNBC are given a pass for their shameless promotion of their Green Week and Green is Universal network events.
Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large for National Review and author of "Liberal Fascism," appeared on Fox News Channel's April 18 "Fox News Watch" and commented on FNC's promotion of the tea parties, but the double standard of MSNBC's criticism of Fox News.
"I think that there's a perfectly legitimate criticism against Fox for not so much the coverage, but the commercials, you know - promoting the coverage, which was in effect advertisements for these things," Goldberg explained. "But, this was all transparent, people knew that's Fox was doing. But let's flashback to what GE, to pick up a point that Jim [Pinkerton] made - that GE basically issued a fatwa to NBC for Green Week, where they did hundreds of hours of environmental messaging in all of their dramas, news coverage, "Today" show - throughout the network and it was all hailed as a wonderful progressive thing. That is a much more pernicious promotion than anything Fox did."
Left-wing activist/actress Janeane Garofalo, now starring on Fox's '24', went on a wild rant Thursday night, on MSNBC's Countdown, impugning those who attended the Wednesday tea parties as racists and denigrating the brain power of anyone who watches the Fox News Channel. (In his Thursday night post, “Garofalo: Tea Party Goers Are Racists Who Hate Black President,” Noel Sheppard provided an embedded video of the entire segment with Keith Olbermann as well as a full transcript.)
Here, however, is an edited video (matching MP3 audio), just over two-minutes in length, of her most-outrageous smears uttered on the April 16 program.
“This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism, straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of tea-bagging rednecks. And there is no way around that,” she scurrilously charged. After comparing conservatives to “white power activists,” she continued: “This is about racism. It could be any issue, any port in a storm. These guys hate that a black guy is in the White House.”
In an outrageous calumny, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg has decided that the nearly one million Americans that attended the tax day tea party protests all across the country must not care about our military veterans. Considering a large number of these very same protesters were military vets, I'd bet that Steinberg's blinkered figuring would come as quite a surprise to them.
In his April 17 column Steinberg insists that tax protesters are in reality "speaking out against our military and our vets." Ridiculously, he also tries to make it seem like our founding fathers would be unhappy with the tea party movement because he thinks the founders were big government folks. The backflips, illogic, and the obviously illiterate historical analysis by which he arrives at these absurd notions is an act of liberal pretzel logic that is a wonder to behold.
NPR's Nina Totenberg on Friday night was unsure as to whether the tea parties have “any legs are not” since “at almost any given time any cockamamie proposition in America will have at least 25 percent of those polled supporting it.” On Inside Washington she called the anti-tax and anti-spending rallies “a good stunt,” before declaring Americans “pay relatively small taxes” and then lecturing those unappreciative protesters about how taxes provide, as if they want taxes totally eliminated, “a civilized kind of social compact where you don't have massive civil eruptions. That is what taxes are for.”
To which, Newsweek's Evan Thomas chimed in: “I'm all for paying more taxes.”
In the wake of the tax day tea parties, the Business & Media Institute's Dan Gainor appeared on Fox Business Channel's "Cavuto" on April 16 to discuss the protests.
Host Neil Cavuto compared the tea parties to the successful 1978 California tax revolt led by Howard Jarvis, noting that the media failed to take notice of the movement in that case as well, until they had to report the surprise passage of Proposition 13.
"Well of course it's relatable," Gainor said of the comparison. "What we're dealing with now are the same problems. Taxes and government growth are out of control and the politicians are out of touch -- and frankly most of the media are out of touch."
The tea-party coverage even trickled on National Public Radio on Wednesday night, on their newscast All Things Considered. It was a fairly respectful hearing of dissent, even though anchor Melissa Block suggested the protesters were bearing only "pet peeves," and reporter Robert Smith insisted the festivities weren't exactly "grass roots" activity, since they were grown with "partisan fertilizer."
They were put together by "conservative" groups and Fox News. Would NPR or the TV networks ever describe the anti-war or pro-amnesty protests they lavishly cover as "liberal" events, or note they're less than "grass roots" because they got heavy play on ABC, CBS, and NBC? But Smith went there on the tea parties:
So, we are all well aware of the so-called reporter from CNN, Susan Roesgen whose on-air haranguing of those she was ostensibly reporting on made obvious her anti-Republican bias. Well, for the past day Americans have been emailing her to let her know how they feel about her unprofessional attitude. Apparently, CNN does not appreciate hearing from its viewers, though, because all of a sudden anyone that sends an email to Roesgen's CNN email address will have it returned as address unknown!
We reported on Roesgan's outrageous "interviews" from the Chicago Tea Party later that evening and since the airing of her debating those she was supposed to be reporting on, folks have been jamming CNN's email boxes with complaints.
It is pretty telling that on-air "reporter" Roesgen's email address suddenly returns as address unknown, isn't it? Why is CNN so afraid of hearing from its viewers?
On Wednesday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and Jeffrey Toobin voiced their skepticism about the hundreds of Tea Party protests across the U.S., with Toobin stating how it was “disturbing” that there was a “edge of anger at the government” at the rallies. He continued, “There is a real -- a real hostility that is not just politics as usual among some of these people....I think it’s indicative of trying to tap into an anger that’s beyond rationality on a part of a small group of these people.” Amanpour also asked if the protesters were “really out of step with the majority of Americans.”
Amanpour, filing in for host Anderson Cooper, began the segment just after the beginning of the 10 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Before turning to Toobin, she brought on the network’s senior political analyst David Gergen and asked him a cynical question about the Tea Parties: “David -- is this, David, a grassroots movement, or is it something just whipped up for this moment?” Gergen began with an admission: “Well, Christiane, at first, I must confess, I did not take these very seriously. But they do seem to have gained traction in the last couple of weeks. And they have -- I think they are giving expression to what is a groundswell of a vocal minority, who are increasingly alienated and opposed to what the president is proposing -- is putting forward, the agenda he’s advancing.”
Has "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough had enough of MSNBC's mocking, sexually-laced taunts about "teabagging?" Several anchors on the liberal cable network, including David Shuster and Rachel Maddow, have used crude references and language to deride the tax day protests that occurred on Wednesday. On Thursday, Scarborough complained, "You look at these huge rallies, and I'm not going to mention names of people on networks that made sexual jokes, childish sexual jokes, about tens of thousands of Americans who went out and wanted to get involved in their government."
The MSNBC host continued, "I mean, it was really middle school jokes being made. I didn't hear those jokes being made when people on the left protested over the past eight years." Earlier in the 6am hour, he offered criticism that, one might assume, would have to be directed at his own network: "But, if a media outlet wants to expose its bias, they can mock tea parties, if they like."
Continuing the unnamed critique, Scarborough asserted that he would expect such juvenile actions from liberal bloggers, however, "I would expect more...from news outlets. And it happened on several networks yesterday." (The last part is certainly true. CNN has also engaged in such talk.)
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which since mid-March has been published solely online, greeted visitors to its Web page today with links to opinion pieces or cartoons critical of the April 15 Tea Parties (see screencap at right).
In the upper right-hand corner, under a picture of Seattleites at a tea party protest, were links to
a liberal opinion piece by P-I cartoonist David Horsey
a photo slideshow from Seattle's Tea Party
an editorial cartoon by Horsey, reflecting similar sentiments to those penned in his opinion piece
No ostensibly objective news stories by P-I staffers covering the protests were teased.
On the day after nationwide Tea Party protests, the Washington Post carried this headline in a text box at the top of Page One: "Tax Burden Near Historic Low: The average family sent about 9 percent of its income to the IRS, with the middle-class faring especially well, according to federal data. A12." (The D.C. tea party was noted at the bottom of the page, and readers were sent to B-1, the front of Metro.) But how do the Post’s "tax burden" claims stand up?
Inside the paper, there’s a chart, and the source is the "nonpartisan" Congressional Budget Office, now controlled by the Democratic majority. It measured only the "Effective individual income tax rate." The Post is measuring less than half the federal "tax burden"! Here’s what the CBO director’s blog on the study reported:
The overall effective federal tax rate (the ratio of federal taxes to household income) was 20.7 percent in 2006. Individual income taxes, the largest component, were 9.1 percent of household income. Payroll taxes were the next largest source, with an effective tax rate of 7.5 percent. Corporate income taxes and excise taxes were smaller, with effective tax rates of 3.4 percent and 0.7 percent.
You can't say it's not expected, but once again a voice on the left has demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of taxes and the global economy.
MSNBC "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann, on his April 15 program, attacked the concept of tax havens - something he insisted was made possible by former President George W. Bush. His criticism was part of his "Still Bushed" segment that bashes the former president, even though he has been out of office for nearly three months now.
"And Number One, tea bag-gate," Olbermann said, continuing to use the sexual slang for tax protests. "As handfuls of sheep possibly wearing LED vests, as seen earlier in Oddball, are herded into made for TV protests of taxation with representation, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has now analyzed a Senate report from last year that showed just how much we lose as a nation in tax revenues hidden by corporations in places like the Cayman Islands - the opportunities to do so growing immeasurably under the Bush administration."
The New York Times finally noticed -- kind of -- the nationwide "tea party" protests against the bailouts, the stimulus plan, and President Obama's budget. Reporter Liz Robbins' story, "Tax Day Is Met With Tea Parties" is the first Times news report to deal with any of the conservative anti-spending protests, and does so in a predictably snide manner and in a relatively short article on Page 16 of Thursday's edition.
This paragraph from Robbins' initial version of the story, posted at nytimes.com Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 (no longer online), got a few facts about conservatives wrong:
Fox News was covering the events and streaming live video as its own commentators Neil Cavuto and Michelle Malkin were headlining the protests in Sacramento, Sean Hannity appeared in Atlanta, and Newt Gingrich showed up at City Hall Park in New York.
Oops. Neil Cavuto is a host at Fox News, not a commentator, and given that her story was filed Wednesday afternoon, Robbins couldn't have actually reported on Newt Gingrich's speech at City Hall Park, which didn't start until sometime past 7:30 p.m.
An attack from that first filing that didn't make it into the print version accused the protestors of "group therapy" and of "expressing their anger, but offering no solutions."
Of course, when the small band of colonists dressed as Indians and dumped tea in Boston Harbor in 1773 to protest King George's import tax and imperial government, that movement led to independence.
All of these tax day parties seemed less about revolution and more about group therapy. At least with the more widely known protest against government spending, people attending the rallies were dressed patriotically and held signs expressing their anger, but offering no solutions.
Media Research Center's Seton Motley appeared on FNC's Fox & Friends on April 16th to talk about the egregious media bias in covering the tax day TEA Party protests. And there was no shortage of bias to talk about.
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday provided prominent coverage of the “Tea Party” rallies across the nation with time for the views of participants, but they tried to discredit the protests as a front for “corporate interests” or a “fistful of rightward leaning Web sites” -- a concern for motives and hidden agendas the same programs lacked when championing the 2006 pro-illegal immigrant marches. All three also cited polls to undermine the premise the public shares the concerns on taxes and spending espoused by the “tea party” protesters.
“Cheered on by Fox News and talk radio, the hundreds of tea parties today were designed to protest the bailouts, the stimulus plan, and President Obama's budget,” Dan Harris explained on ABC before asserting: “But critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.” Harris proceeded to argue that “while the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was about taxation without representation, critics point out that today's protesters did get to vote -- they just lost. What's more, polls show most Americans don't feel overtaxed.”
CBS's Dean Reynolds noted a tea party organizer “insisted these events were non-partisan,” but, Reynolds maintained as if it were an embarrassment, “a fistful of rightward leaning Web sites and commentators embraced the cause.” Reynolds stressed how “it's important to keep in mind that fresh polling indicates there is not all that much passion about high taxes in the country at large right now. Gallup this week found 61 percent of Americans see their federal income taxes as fair.” (What percent surveyed even pay income taxes?)