On the April 22 Larry King Live on CNN, which was rebroadcast on Saturday, magician and comedian Penn Jillette – who is a self-described libertarian – challenged assertions by actress Rachael Harris that the Tea Party movement is motivated by "racism" against President Barack Obama. Jillette: "Well, that's the magic word. Once you say ‘racism,’ the other side loses automatically. And I don't think we have very much evidence that that's what it is. Don't they have to be doing racist things besides you just saying that they're racist?"
Harris cited the racial makeup of the Tea Party movement as evidence of its racist motivation: "No, but they're looking at the number of people that are in, like, the majority of the people that are in the Tea Party," leading Jillette to respond: "So the race that they are makes them racist by definition?"
After Harris and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane joked for a moment that they had gotten together and created the movement, Jillette and Harris continued their debate over whether Tea Party members were motivated by racism:
In Friday's 3PM ET hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Peter Alexander asked black Republican congressional candidate Allen West of Florida about "aligning" with the tea party movement: "the Tea Party has raised concerns that it may have, I guess, racism built within it. We have seen some racist signs at past events...are African-American candidates aligning themselves with the tea party?" [Audio available here]
West responded: "The principles and values that I espouse, limited government, lower taxes, individual responsibility, and accountability, liberty, and honoring the traditions of our constitutional republic, are connecting me with those grass roots Americans that attend tea party rallies. And I've spoken at four to five of those rallies and I've not seen any racist type of signs."
On Wednesday, Alexander talked with correspondent Luke Russert about the fact that 32 African-Americans are running for Congress as Republicans. Russert noted with surprise how "these candidates are actually soliciting support from the tea party, a group that a lot of folks have claimed to be racist against African-Americans."
Listen to the surprise in Luke Russert's voice as he reports that many African-American Republican candidates for congress are seeking support from the Tea Party. After all, says Luke, the Tea Party is a group that "a lot of folks have claimed to be racist against African-Americans."
Russert expressed his amazement on MSNBC this morning, discussing a New York Times article that reports that at least 32 black Republicans are running for Congress.
Near the top of Tuesday's Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan fretted over American Muslims being harassed in the wake of the failed Times Square bombing: "how do you deal with these types of crimes without resulting in racism, effectively, towards people of Pakistani or Middle Eastern descent?...is there not a natural backlash to this?" [Audio available here]
Ratigan asked that of Sofian Zakkout, the director of the American Muslim Association of North America, who replied: "We should calm down, it's – thank God nobody got hurt. We all know – and also I spoke today, this morning, with CAIR and other Islamic organizations....we denounce what was going to happen." Zakkout's organization has had links to questionable Islamic organizations on its website and has voiced support for the terrorist organization Hamas.
Ratigan seemed to be following the lead of his MSNBC colleague Contessa Brewer, who appeared on Tuesday's Stephanie Miller radio show and lamented the ethnicity of the would-be bomber: "I get frustrated...There was part of me that was hoping this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country."
On Friday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez revisited a story he did on Tuesday where he forwarded Islamic group CAIR's publicity stunt about a Virginia license plate that apparently contained racist messages. The Washington Post, as well, updated their story on Friday, pointing to the driver's apparent Facebook page, which contained white supremacist messages, but CNN was unable to confirm their report.
Schulte followed through with an article on Thursday, after the owner of the truck, Douglas Story, contacted The Washington Post to claim that the numbers actually represented his favorite NASCAR drivers, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who race under those respective numbers. Story was forced to get a new license plate after the Virginia DMV recalled his plate.
On Tuesday's Rick List, CNN's Rick Sanchez unquestioningly forwarded Islamic advocacy group CAIR's admitted speculation about a Virginia license plate containing a supposed coded message of white supremacy/neo-Naziism, which they found on a pickup truck that also had an anti-Islamic message on it [audio clip available here].
Sanchez devoted a brief to the controversy over the Virginia license plate 18 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour. Earlier in the hour, the CNN anchor gave a teaser on the issue, summarizing CAIR's take as their publicist might: "Take a look at this: what's wrong with that license plate? Opponents say it has a message of nothing but bigotry and hate. I will take you through it. There's more there than meets the eye." He showed a picture of the pickup truck in question, which had a large Confederate flag on the back window of the cab and the message "Everything I ever needed to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11" on the tailgate.
Near the end of an interview with Arizona Senator John McCain on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith turned to the subject of illegal immigration and the new Arizona law to combat it: "a very tough immigration reform bill which basically makes it illegal for you to be in the state without some sort of documentation. Is this law the answer to the immigration crisis?"
McCain noted the number of illegal immigrants entering Arizona and the level of drug trafficking taking place: "Across the Tucson sector of Arizona last year, there was 241,000 apprehensions of illegal immigrants....1.3 million pounds of marijuana intercepted on the Tucson border just last year." Smith followed up by wondering: "And for the millions of Hispanic Americans who live in Arizona, what do you say to them who feel like this bill is purely discriminatory?"
In a news brief on the topic at the top of the 8AM ET hour, fill-in news reader Betty Nguyen described how: "The Obama administration and activists are considering legal challenges to Arizona's new immigration enforcement law, which has reignited a national debate." A series of signs from an immigration protest in San Francisco appeared on screen: "Latinos Today, Who's Next? Shame on Arizona;" "Boycott Arizona;" "Brown Is Not A Crime."As footage of the protest rolled, Nguyen explained: "The law makes it a crime to be an illegal immigrant." On Monday, an MSNBC headline made the same odd statement.
One week after mocking comedian and Tea Party activist Jim Labriola as "no brain trust," HLN host Joy Behar brought him onto the Joy Behar Show Monday to discuss his involvement in the movement. Behar was surprised by his contention that he had seen no racism or anger at the events he has attended, except from anti-Tea Party protesters, with the HLN host responding: "No, that doesn`t make sense because we`ve seen the footage of them showing things, woman walking with a monkey, another one having Obama in white face."
After Behar, who admitted last week "I'm scared to go" to Tea Party events, asked if Labriola had seen any African-Americans at events he attended, he asserted that half the people he appeared with on stage were minorities, and criticized the media for ignoring black and Hispanic Tea Party members:"I noticed the news never showed any of the black speakers or the Mexican kid and all that."
The comedian and alum of the TV series Home Improvement had earlier commented on the absence of racism or anger by Tea Party participants at events:
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
Occasionally a lefty gets it right. Then a conservative says much the same thing. Followed by liberals denouncing him for it.
Latest example -- Bill O'Reilly's remarks on race at the Sharpton-organized National Action Network conference on April 14 in New York City. Speaking after O'Reilly was liberal action hero Ed Schultz, who spun what was said at the conference on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" that night --
SCHULTZ: You would think that at a serious event to promote equality and civil rights that Bill would rein in the psycho talk. Well, no such luck. He showed zero comprehension of the venue and came out swinging, defending the tea partiers.
O'REILLY: The tea party is a largely white phenomenon, there's no doubt about that, because African-Americans overwhelmingly support President Obama. But it is an overwhelmingly white movement. And now we are seeing that it's being demonized as a racist thing too and the best example was that Capitol display where the African-American congresspeople walked through this gauntlet of protest and there were charges the n-word was used and spitting happened and this, that and the other thing. ... Even if the n-word was used, and it absolutely could have been, you don't demonize a whole group by the actions of one or two people. ... It's a much more interesting country, America, if we stop with the race business, I think. I mean, I'm not black so I don't know your struggle, and you don't know my struggle, all right, because you're not white. ...
On Monday’s Joy Behar Show on HLN, when guest Mark Williams of Tea Party Express complained to Behar and fellow guest Ari Melber of the Nation about Tea Party activists being smeared as racist, the HLN host claimed that she had not brought up race during the segment, even though she opened the discussion by referring to stereotypes about Tea Party activists as she cracked that perhaps public opinion "might drive people to stop making racist signs and wearing hats made of teabags." Behar introduced the segment: "The anti-government sentiment that has driven the Tea Party movement seems to be working as four out of five Americans say they don`t trust the government. I wonder if these same sentiments might drive people to stop making racist signs and wearing hats made of teabags."
But Behar and Melber later developed amnesia as Behar claimed, "We didn’t mention race":
“There aren't a lot of African-American men at these events,” NBC News reporter Kelly O'Donnell, a white woman, told Darryl Postell, a black man at a Tea Party rally held Thursday in Washington, DC, pressing him, in an exchange she chose to include in her NBC Nightly News story, to address her prejudiced assumptions: “Have you ever felt uncomfortable?” Postell rejected her loaded premise that race must divide Americans: “No, no, these are my people, Americans.”
O'Donnell's story noted “skepticism over how the Tea Party is judged and labeled,” letting an attendee assert: “We're not racists, we're not any of the above that people claim us to be. We're ordinary citizens that love our country, and we're fighting for it.” O'Donnell soon wondered if it all may peter out, asking a man in the crowd: “Do you think this has enough energy to really last to November and to make a difference?”
Over on ABC, Jonathan Karl highlighted how “many of them blamed us, the news media.” A woman demanded: “We want honesty from you. We want fair time from you. We want you, the media, to represent all the people, not just a certain portion of the people.”
Painting conservatives as racists is a favorite pastime of the mainstream media and a recent move by Republican Virginia governor Bob McDonnell gave them more ammunition to do just that.
McDonnell issued a proclamation on April 2 stating April would be Confederate History Month, but failed to note the role slavery played in the U.S. Civil War that lasted from 1861-1865. Commentators and journalists seized upon McDonnell's omission as proof that conservatives are inherent racists, despite an apology and later inclusion in the proclamation of a strong statement condemning slavery.
In his apology, McDonnell called slavery an "abomination" and explained that the proclamation was "solely intended to promote the study of our history, encourage tourism in our state in advance of the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, and recognize Virginia's unique role in the story of America."
These allegations of racism against conservatives have percolated in the media since Barack Obama's election in 2008. "Confederate" or "Confederacy" has been used 60 times in news reports on ABC, CBS and NBC since November 4, 2008, but it's this proclamation, coupled with the anger over the recently passed health care reform, that had some in the media wondering if conservatives were ready to wage Civil War Redux.
Aww...New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, respected economist turned talking points purveyor for the left-wing blogosphere, has had his feelings hurt by a fellow Times writer, Andrew Ross Sorkin, and is demanding redress: "Andrew Ross Sorkin Owes Several People An Apology."
That's right. Krugman, who has accused the GOP of "eliminationist rhetoric" and global-warming skeptics of "treason against the planet," chided a fellow Times writer for "caricaturing" his view on an issue, "making it sound far more extreme than it actually was."
The source of Krugman's wounded feelings? These mild passages in Sorkin's Tuesday column, quoted by Krugman in his post:
You may recall that during the most perilous months of 2008 and early 2009, there was a vigorous debate about how the government should fix the financial system. Some economists, including Nouriel Roubini of New York University and The Times's own Paul Krugman, declared that we should follow the example of the Swedes by nationalizing the entire banking system.
They argued that Wall Street was occupied by the walking dead, and that no matter how much money we threw at the banks, they would eventually topple the system all over again and cause a domino effect worldwide.
Touchy Krugman hypocritically huffed in a Tuesday morning post on his nytimes.com blog:
NBC host Norah O'Donnell is taking it from all angles for pulling the race card on Newt Gingrich last Friday.
Speaking at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Gingrich said "shooting three-point shots may be clever, but it doesn’t put anybody to work,” referring to President Obama's basketball skills. Norah O'Donnell embarrassed herself Friday by claiming the comment had racial undertones.
Since then, commentators on the left and right have criticized O'Donnell's race-baiting. Bill O'Reilly and Juan Williams have both condemned her remark, and Gingrich himself has repudiated the accusation.
"The left is becoming a parody of itself," Gingrich said Tuesday morning. He added that "it's relatively hard to go from 'we need someone who is a good president more than we need three point shots' to" racism.
This week, Americans of all political stripes will take to the streets -- so to speak -- to protest what they see as excessive and out of control government spending and intrusion into their daily lives. Among the many Tea Party protesters, however, will be individuals plotting to undermine the peaceful grassroots movement.
Blogger Glenn Reynolds spotted CrashTheTeaParty.org today, a website that claims to represent "a nationwide network of Democrats, Republicans and Independents who are all sick and tired of that loose affiliation of racists, homophobes and morons; who constitute the fake grassroots movement, which calls itself 'the Tea Party.'"
Their plan is to "infiltrate" Tea Party protests to create the false impression that protesters are racists by … being racists. That's right, they will bring with them offensive signs and give wildly offensive interviews to reporters, all with the intention of smearing a movement that wouldn't bring those signs or give those interviews themselves. It remains to be seen whether the mainstream media will take the bait.
The following is a Twitter conversation I had with CNN's Roland S. Martin on Wednesday. He was upset at Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) issuing a proclamation declaring it Confederate History Month in the commonwealth without mentioning slavery. He had retweeted Donna Brazile's tweet that she was outraged that the RNC hadn’t condemned McDonnell. Her Tweet said: "RNC Chair should have condemned this statement,along with every GOP leader. But the double standards are so apparent with the media & blogs"And he doesn't like NewsBusters very much (discussion follows with my tweets in Italics):
It's incredible to see how many ways the mainstream media are able to analyze and dissect the Tea Party movement phenomenon on a regular basis. But lately it has been en vogue to challenge this movement on merits of race - a popular ad hominem talking point for opponents of the movement.
"They've been called Oreos, traitors and Uncle Toms, and are used to having to defend their values," Bauman wrote. "Now black conservatives are really taking heat for their involvement in the mostly white tea party movement-and for having the audacity to oppose the policies of the nation's first black president."
Near the end of the Saturday edition of Fox & Friends on Fox News, co-host Clayton Morris introduced a segment on the media's double standard when it comes to covering the tea party movement versus left-wing protestors: "Mainstream media casting tea party protesters as violent and racist, the same media that characterized leftist protests against President Bush as patriotic."
Morris brought on a tea party activist to discuss the topic: "Well, our next guest is someone who's not afraid to stand up to biased coverage. Check out this heated exchange with a CNN reporter at a tea party rally last year." A clip was played of tea partier Kathy Barkulis berating former CNN reporter Susan Roesgen: "You are not talking to regular, mainstream people. You picked people to talk to." Roesgen was later fired from CNN in July of 2009, in the wake of her slanted reporting on the tea party.
After the clip, Morris asked Barkulis: "So what do you say here? That the mainstream media's casting tea party protests as violent, dangerous, extremist? Is there a double standard, as you see it?" Barkulis replied: "Oh, of course there is, there's always been a double standard and it's just getting worse.... they're misrepresenting us and I really don't even think they've ever been to a tea party rally and they don't really know what we're all about. They're just repeating what other left-wing sources have told them."
Next week, the Media Research Center will be releasing a special report documenting media coverage of the tea party movement over the past year.
In the New York Times's latest "Political Points" podcast, posted April 1 at nytimes.com, reporters David Herszenhorn and Jeff Zeleny talked to host Sam Roberts about the health care law as a referendum on the Obama presidency. Though the Times didn't bother to identify the reporters by name on the audiocast, it was almost certainly Herszenhorn (confirmed by comparing his voice pattern with that of another voice later identified as Zeleny's, plus by watching a recent clip of Herszenhorn) who immediately injected discredited accusations of racism into the discussion, in response to Roberts's relatively innocuous conversation starter.
Herszenhorn is known at Times Watch as a strong cheerleader for Obama-care.
From the April 1 podcast:
Host Sam Roberts: "David and Jeff, we've been writing that health care became a touchstone, a proxy for larger disagreements and deep divisions in an increasingly fractured society. What is it the surrogate for, do we think?"
Herszenhorn: "Well there's so many things, Sam. One is clearly there's a racial component. Some members of Congress you know, had epithets hurled at them as protesters marched around the Capitol on the day of the big House vote."
Andrew Breitbart at Big Journalism.com has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone with evidence of racial epithets being hurled at members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who made the charge in the first place. So far no takers, despite the Hill being dense with Blackberries, camera phones, and video equipment of all kinds the day of the vote on Obama-care.
On Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O’Reilly took the time to speak with an African-American Tea Party activist named Kevin Jackson about his experiences at Tea Party events and what he thinks of liberal commentators – presumably referring to a number of MSNBC hosts – who have charged that racism is common among Tea Party activists. O’Reilly asked of Jackson: "Okay, now obviously you know the controversy. There have been a number of commentators that have called the Tea Party people racists, branded them, you know, a white power organization or whatever you want to call it. So you hear that and you say what?"
Jackson defended the integrity of Tea Party activists:
With an increasing attempt by the left to paint Tea Party protestors as racist loons, it becomes of great importance to identify those who purport to represent conservative values, but in reality are nothing more than radical individuals.
As NewsBusters has previously reported, liberal Web sites - particularly Talking Points Memo (TPM) and the Huffington Post - have continually cited the Tea Party links of one Dale Robertson. Why? Because he further promotes the concept of the tea partier as racist. Robertson once demonstrated a level of racial ignorance that boggles the mind by being photographed with a sign reading "Congress = Slaveowner, Taxpayer = N***ar".
But the reality is that Robertson has predominantly self-described links to the Tea Party movement, while legitimate factions of the movement have been trying to distance themselves from the man. His claims of influence within the Tea Party have turned out to be mildly embellished. Now, it turns out his web of tales is growing ever more tangled.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite recently interviewed Robertson, in which he claims that the sign that made him famous for the wrong reasons was simply a fake. As Mediaite reports:
Opposed to ObamaCare? Maybe you're just a secret segregationist . . .
As absurd as it sounds, that's the possibility that Chris Matthews posed this evening. His guest was Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat who has declined Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue's request to sue the federal government over ObamaCare.
Matthews reached back to 1964 to suggest that Perdue might also have opposed the Civil Rights law:
In case there are any residual doubts about how bad the tea partiers have been treated, here are the Top Five ways the left and the media have abused a grassroots movement. The coverage has been so hateful and so biased, it was almost impossible to narrow the list. Here they are in reverse order, just in time for the big tea party events April 15:
5) Protesters are Anti-Government
The media and the left portray tea parties as "anti-government" because it undermines a patriotic grassroots movement. Tea partiers aren't anti-government, they are anti-big government. That's just not the story journalists tell. The "anti-government" theme is strong, cropping up in more than two dozen stories in The Washington Post and New York Times combined. Very few of them mentioned the word "big" in reference to government.
Instead, it's NPR's Liz Halloran claiming tea parties have been boosted by "restive Republicans who have found refuge in the year-old anti-tax, anti-government uprising." Or Frank Rich of The New York Times who compared tea partiers with Andrew Joseph Stack, the man who flew a plane into an IRS building. "Stack was a lone madman, and it would be both glib and inaccurate to call him a card-carrying Tea Partier or a ‘Tea Party terrorist.' But he did leave behind a manifesto whose frothing anti-government, anti-tax rage overlaps with some of those marching under the Tea Party banner."
Did Frank Rich read Charles Blow's column and sub-consciously subsume it? Rich's NY Times opus of March 27 is a virtual echo of Blow's item of March 26.
Coincidence or not, the two Timesmen are very much on the same wavelength. Their shared theory: conservative opposition to Obamacare is fueled not so much by the substance of PBO's plans as it is by the racism, homophobia and sexism of people who can't bear to witness America's changing demographics.
Compare the eerie similarities in the two columns [emphasis added].
CNN put “INCITING VIOLENCE?” on screen under video of Sarah Palin earlier in the day Saturday in Searchlight, Nevada, as anchor Don Lemon announced:
Sarah Palin takes on one of the highest ranking Democrats right in his own backyard, all while causing another uproar by urging tea parties to quote “reload.” And the question is, are comments like that inciting violence and name-calling over the health care bill and the like?
In the subsequent segment, titled “DANGEROUS RHETORIC: When heated words incite threats & violence,” CNN’s panel agreed Obama’s political opponents are inciting violence and are motivated by racism -- undeterred by Palin’s assurance, which CNN played:
When I talk about it's not a time to retreat, it's a time to reload, what I'm talking about -- now, media, try to get this right, okay? That's not inciting violence. What that's doing is trying to inspire people to get involved in their local elections and these upcoming federal elections. It's telling people that their arms are their votes. It's not inciting violence. It's telling people, don't ever let anybody tell you to sit down and shut up, Americans.
Lemon demanded: “Is it responsible for someone to say that? Especially a leader, considering the anger that's going on right now?”
In the lead story of Thursday's National section, New York Times congressional correspondent (and Times Watch favorite) Carl Hulse quickly put the Times's stamp of approval on Democrat attempts to discredit anti-Obama-care protesters as violent racists in “After Health Vote, Democrats Are Threatened With Violence.” He even drug Internet images from the RNC and Sarah Palin into the mix. By contrast, the Times was conspicuously quiet during the 2004 presidential campaign concerning vandalism of G.O.P. campaign offices.
Hulse detailed the Democratic message of the week -- violent conservative protesters -- with no hint of how the party is exploiting the anecdotes of violence (some of which have not been documented). Interestingly, he includes Rep. Bart Stupak on the list as having “reported receiving threatening phone calls,” though Hulse fails to say whether they transpired before or after Stupak caved in and voted in favor of the health “reform” legislation.
Democratic lawmakers have received death threats and been the victims of vandalism because of their votes in favor of the health care bill, lawmakers and law enforcement officials said Wednesday, as the Congressional debate over the issue headed toward a bitter and divisive conclusion.
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann reaffirmed his accusations of racism against both the Republican party and Tea Party activists, and even tied in the recent racist statements made over the intercom at a Wal-Mart by a disgruntled employee as he tried to link isolated incidents of racism to these mainstream organizations. After recounting reports that someone shouted the "N" word at black members of Congress as they walked past protesters outside the Capitol, Olbermann continued:
But in a backwards, sick-to-my-stomach way, I would like to thank whoever shouted at Mr. Lewis and Mr. Carson for proving my previous point. If racism is not the whole of the Tea Party, it is in its heart, along with blind hatred, a total disinterest in the welfare of others, and a full- flowered, self-rationalizing refusal to accept the outcomes of elections, or the reality of democracy, or the narrowness of their minds and the equal narrowness of their public support." On Saturday, that support came from evolutionary regressives like Michele Bachmann and Jon Voight. On a daily basis that support comes from the racists and homophobes of radio and television: the Michael Savages and the Rush Limbaughs.