On Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Bill Whitaker reported on protests against Arizona's new immigration law, citing several opponents of the new measure, but failing to feature a single supporter. On Thursday's Evening News, Whitaker filed a nearly identical report that included a clip of at least one proponent of the legislation.
In the Early Show report, footage was show of an immigration law protestor declaring: "We are America. Get over it." Whitaker followed by proclaiming: "Opponents say requiring police to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they suspect is un-American. Even the mayor of Phoenix is suing to have the law overturned." A clip was played of Mayor Phil Gordon ranting: "Arizona and Phoenix is not the Arizona or Phoenix that you have seen portrayed by some individuals that have brought this racist, this hateful law to the state."
Whitaker noted how "protesters turned up the star power. Pop star Shakira voiced her opposition." A clip was played of the singer fretting: "I'm worried about the impact that the implementation of this law will have on hard working Latino families." Whitaker added: "Mexican American singer Linda Ronstadt spoke out, as well." Ronstadt remarked: "Gee, I better pack my passport, you know, coming to Tucson."
CNN and CNN.com highlighted opposition to Arizona's new anti-illegal immigration law on Monday and Wednesday by focusing on sob stories from a soldier of Latino decent whose family entered the U.S. illegally when he was two, and from Latino businesses apparently "already feeling the effects" of the law.
Correspondent Thelma Gutierrez's interview of Private First Class Jose Medina first aired during the 6 am Eastern hour of Monday's American Morning program. Anchor Kiran Chetry noted that "Thousands of people staged a peaceful protest outside the state capitol in Phoenix....An immigrant soldier [Medina] about to ship out to the war zone was among yesterday's [April 25] protesters." Gutierrez continued that the soldier "sat down with us to talk about his feelings and fears over this new immigration law in Arizona that could affect his family."
During the interview, PFC Medina recounted that when he first entered the military, people who ask him where he was from: "I was proud to say I'm from the great state of Arizona, because I was raised here, I grew up here. I don't know if I can say that so proudly. I don't know if I want to live here any more." The CNN correspondent highlighted how the passage of Arizona's SB1070 was "personal" for the soldier, and asked him slanted questions about the legislation.
The New York Times sometimes takes its politically correct blandishments to humorous extremes, as in Randal Archibold's lead story Saturday, “Arizona Enacts Stringent Law On Immigration.” Check the curious way Archibold referred to a protest against Arizona's new anti-immigration law, then try to imagine how the paper would react if such things had happened at a Tea Party rally:
As hundreds of demonstrators massed, mostly peacefully, at the capitol plaza, the governor, speaking at a state building a few miles away, said the law “represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix.”
Achibold didn't go into why he felt obliged to include the modifier “mostly.” For that, one had to check out a local report filed Friday night that included details the Times left out:
Three people were arrested during the immigration rally at the state capitol Friday afternoon.
Two were arrested after they were seen throwing water bottles at police, according to a news release from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the state police agency.
Evidently, “mostly peacefully” means “somewhat violently” at the New York Times.
This local news clip is even more dramatic, showing a police officer being nailed with a water bottle, one of many hurled in the semi-chaotic "march" that the headline terms a "small riot."
No anti-capitalist protest is too tiny for The Washington Post. Reporter David Montgomery reported that on early Saturday, eight people were arrested at a northwest Washington hotel while protesting a meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, one of them for "felony assault of a police officer." That was too tiny to make the Sunday newspaper.
But the mere plan of protests by this tiny band dominated the front page of Saturday's Style section, complete with a picture of more than 50 square inches and a huge headline: "Bank protest" in red letters and "No loss for words" in black. The caption promised "A series of demonstrations called 'Anticapitalathon' -- including a 5K run and a scavenger hunt -- will be held this weekend". They promised a full story on C-2 inside. The fun run was for destroying economic freedom:
Does anyone remember when the liberal intellectuals decried populism coming from the likes of Glenn Beck and other conservatives that was aimed at the direction the country is going under the leadership of President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress?
Apparently it is OK to cry foul on so-called populist rants when the mouthpieces tend to be right-of-center. But now, with Congress debating financial regulation, this sort of above-the-fray approach has gone by the wayside, at least for Slate.com. On Slate's Political Gabfest podcast for April 22, moderator John Dickerson asked his panel consisting of Slate editor David Plotz and Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon, if Wall Street banks had a responsibility to self-regulate and do what's right as opposed to solely relying on legislation to set the boundaries. That inspired an "impassioned" populist response from Plotz.
Last night, "back by popular demand," Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity interviewed Brent Bozell in a segment focused on media bias entitled "Media Mash."
Hannity led off with the April 15 video of TEA Partier Darryl Postell being interviewed by NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, who asked him if, as a black man, he felt uncomfortable at the rally. "No, no, these are my people, Americans," replied Postell.
"Let's examine the question a little more deeply, your reaction to that," Hannity asked.
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."
Last month I noted Newsweek's Liz White's complaint about the term "ObamaCare" being used as shorthand for the Democratic health care legislation. White griped that the term was "ominous-sounding" and favored by the legislation's conservative opponents as reasons why mainstream media outlets should eschew the term.
Now a full 27 days later, White is back at it with her complaint about the term "ObamaCare." This time, she's citing none other than liberal Comedy Central "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart to back her up:
Stewart immediately jumps on O’Hara’s slip, calling him out on using the “derogatory” phrase and firing back by referring to O’Hara’s book as a “tea-bagger book.” O’Hara stammers for a few seconds and tries to defend his word choice, but concedes to calling it the health-reform bill instead. (It’s a law, by the way.)
Last month, I took on this same issue. Should the bill be called Obamacare, or is that phrase, as Stewart puts it, derogatory by nature?
While mainstream media reporters are generally pretty supportive of the Obama administration, they bristle, and rightly so, at incidents where the administration is less than transparent or actively seeks to impede journalists from working.
Police chased reporters away from the White House and closed Lafayette Park today in response to a gay rights protest in which several service members in full uniform handcuffed themselves to the White House gate to protest "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
People who have covered the White House for years tell me that's an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests.
A reporter can be seen in the YouTube video above calling the move "outrageous" and "ridiculous."
Two weeks ago (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the combined audience for the Big Three Networks' Evening News shows for the week of March 29 fell to just below 20 million.
That audience was about 5% less than what Matt Drudge in the summer of 2006 headlined as "TV's Lowest Week."
The Big Three's combined audience crawled back above 20 million during the week of April 5. But Chris Ariens of Media Bistro noted earlier today that the figures for the week of April 12 were more reflective of "summertime viewing patterns" than what is supposedly peak spring viewing season.
MSNBC's Donny Deutsch kicked off a week-long segment on Monday about "America the Angry" and hinted that the "rageaholics" in this country could create another Oklahoma City-style bombing. After one guest mentioned Joe Stack, the man who flew a plane into an IRS building in February, Deutsch wrongly derided, "I don't know whether he was Republican or Democrat. I'm assuming he was probably a Republican."
In fact, Stack's manifesto, found after his death, included rants against capitalism, George W. Bush and religion. These are hardly the standard comments of a Republican. At times during the interview, Deutsch, who is serving as a substitute host on News Live, seemed annoyed that his three guests didn't agree that the U.S. is on the verge of another domestic terrorist event.
The political inclinations of Hollywood actors, when they're publicly disclosed, are almost always reliably left-of-center. As such, it's quite refreshing to learn of another conservative or libertarian in Tinseltown, especially when the celebrity in question is actively working to advance an understanding of constitutional principles and opposing big government.
Janine Turner ("Northern Exposure", "Friday Night Lights") is one such conservative actress. Inspired by the TEA Party movement, Ms. Turner started an organization called Constituting America.
The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion, which included Pinkerton, Miller, Newsday columnist Ellis Henican Fox News anchor Jon Scott, starting at the 53 minutes into 2 pm Eastern hour:
JON SCOTT: Ellis, you know, this headline in the New York Times: 'Supporters are better educated, wealthier, and more conservative, poll finds.' It almost seemed to me that it pained this newspaper to write that sub-headline.
ELLIS HENICAN: Well, two things- first of all, can the tea party people get better songs? (laughs from other panel members, as Henican sings, 'I need a bailout.') That said, it's no surprise. The tea partyers are whiter, more Republican, more conservative, older and more suburban than America, and that shouldn't be a surprise to anybody.
Here's the transcript by MRC intern Alex Fitzsimmons:
Where are all the big taxers and spenders today? You heard from any of them? But the Tea Party protestors are out there and that's a good thing. All over the country-and the media hate them. And we know this is a matter of empirical fact now thanks to our friends at the Media Research Center. Hat tip to Drudge Report who links to them: MRC.org. And they've done an analysis that reviewed every mention of the Tea Party on ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening newscasts, the Sunday talk shows, ABC's "Nightline," from February 19, 2009 through March 31, 2010.
Now here among their major findings is how our "news outlets" our big news outlets, our liberal news outlets, treat the American people who attend these rallies. They write:
"I think that we're going to have a problem if we want to start talking about founding fathers, the founding documents, what the origins of our country because the mainstream media is not going to like what you have to say, and so I volunteered myself," Breitbart said. "And on day one, I had to contend with the fact that you guys were called ‘teabaggers.' And I had to deal with the fact an unfortunately named sister, by the name of Contessa Brewer on MSNBC, before you even spoke, told you what your grievances were to the country and our dissent his patriotic presidency. This person took a photo and cut off the head of a black man, and asked is the tea party nation - are the people who are protesting Barack Obama racist? The person was black."
The media is still having trouble understanding the Tea Party movement and what it is protesting, even though its roots are clear.
On Feb. 19, 2009 during CNBC's "Squawk Box," Rick Santelli made his famous rant heard around the world, calling for a so-called tea party-style revolt. And that helped fuel the growth of a Tea Party movement that has resulted in more than 600 protests this April 15, 2010.
Santelli's call for protest wasn't about high taxes. Instead, it was a cry against the Obama administration's plan for a taxpayer-funded mortgage bailout. The very beginning of the tea parties was about bailouts and the growth of government.
But the Associated Press still seemed to miss the point about worries over an overspending government in an April 15 article by Calvin Woodward about the Tea Party rallies. In that report, Woodward defended Obama's tax policies.
"Lost in the rhetoric was that taxes have gone down under Obama," Woodward wrote. "Congress has cut individuals' federal taxes for this year by about $173 billion, leaving Americans with a lighter load despite nearly $29 billion in increases by states. Obama plans to increase taxes on the wealthy to help pay for his health care overhaul and other programs."
Reporting from Jefferson City, Missouri, David Lieb of the Associated Press understated the number of people expected to attend rallies through the US ("thousands"), misrepresented a previous March 20 incident involving alleged racial slurs at the U.S. Capitol, and waited until his fourteenth paragraph to mention leftist "party crashers" who may be at least as much of a concern to organizers as far-right opportunists.
Here are the relevant paragraphs from Lieb's litter (link is dynamic; 9:13 a.m. version of report saved here at web host for fair use and discussion purposes; bolds are mine):
The tea-party headline at the bottom of the screen early this morning on the local D.C. CBS affiliate WUSA said this: "Tea Party Leaders Anxious About Extremists." The same headline graced an Associated Press story this morning. The theme of the day isn't the burdensome growth of government. It's media bias, piled upon media bias, as AP's David Lieb began:
Organizers of tax-day tea parties are preparing for their biggest day of the year Thursday, as thousands of demonstrators participate in local rallies against high taxes and big government spending. But the leaders are striving to keep the rallies from presenting another image: one of fringe groups, extremists or infiltrators obsessed with hateful messages.
Sensitive that poor public perception could sink their movement, some rally planners have uninvited controversial speakers, beefed up security and urged participants to pack cameras to capture evidence of any disrupters. Organizers want to project a peaceful image of people upset by a growing and burdensome federal government.
If the media had ignored hateful signs and fringy attendees -- as they do for left-wing protests -- then this entire story would be unnecessary. The headline could be "Tea Party Leaders Anxious About Liberal Media Bias." But AP wants to keep all these fringy elements at the front of the story. Lieb elaborated on the "recent publicity hit" that the tea partiers were racists:
An unbylined Associated Press item on today's Tea Party Express tour wrap-up in Washington uses a word that the wire service almost never (if not absolutely never) applies to truly violent leftist groups.
The Google page carrying the AP report also has an interesting lead "Related article."
Here's the brief AP item (produced in full for fair use and discussion purposes), whose headline seems to want to twist the event into an act of hypocrisy simply because of where it's being held:
Media Research Center Research Director and NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes appeared on this morning's "Fox & Friends" program to discuss "TV's Tea Party Travesty," the MRC's latest special report.
Noyes provided statistical data proving the mainstream media's initial lack of coverage and subsequent trashing of the Tea Party movement [MP3 audio available here; video available here]:
Clearly the media double standard is apparent. You know, when you go back to liberal marches like the Million Man March of 1995, all the anchors came to Washington and set up shop to run full coverage that day. This Million Mom March [for gun control] that was something that people don't even remember anymore, that was in 2000, that had 41 stories in advance of their march, interviews with the hosts setting it up.
"In 2009, with all the activity that took place in 2009, guess how many network news stories were done on the TEA Party," Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell asked the hosts of WMAL radio's "Grandy & Andy Morning Show" at the open of his April 13 interview.
[click here or on image above to play MP3 audio, courtesy of WMAL producer Ann Wog]
When Bozell -- citing the result of MRC's latest study -- noted that the total number of stories through all of 2009 on the TEA Parties registered at a paltry 19, co-host Andy Parks exclaimed, "Is that all?!"
The Tea Party movement launched one year ago, in response to the unprecedented expansion of government by President Barack Obama and congressional liberals, a massive increase in spending that will create economy-crushing fiscal burdens for future generations of taxpayers.
In that relatively brief period, the Tea Party has demonstrated it is a formidable political force. The pressure the movement brought to bear at the grassroots level put liberals on the defensive for much of the health care debate, and nearly succeeded in torpedoing the entire scheme in spite of Democrats’ overwhelming congressional majorities. And Tea Party activists proved decisive in a string of electoral defeats for liberals, culminating in Republican Scott Brown’s victory in the special election to succeed Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate.
So how have the supposedly objective media covered one of the biggest political stories in recent years? The Media Research Center has a new report out today, reviewing every mention of the Tea Party on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening newscasts, Sunday talk shows, and ABC’s Nightline from February 19, 2009 (when CNBC contributor Rick Santelli first suggested throwing a “Tea Party” to protest government takeovers) through March 31, 2010. Among the major findings:
Why does the mainstream media keep trotting out the Boy Who Cried Right-Wing Terrorist?
Better known as Mark Potok of the hard-left Southern Poverty Law Center, he has been trumpeted by a number of media outlets seeking to promote the notion that "right-wingers" are lurking behind every corner to overthrow the federal government.
The fact that he is consistently wrong about, well, just about everything -- from the political views of the supposed right wingers to the supposedly violent nature of conservative groups to the mere presence of violent crime -- does not seem to dissuade Old Media from using him to smear conservatives.
Potok's latest target for fear-mongering is a group called the Oathkeepers. The group consists of military veterans who pledge not to follow orders that would result in the violation of Americans' constitutional rights. I know, this is really radical, extremist, right-wing nutjob stuff.
Associated Press writer John Flesher seems to be one bitter guy.
Flesher, along with whoever (possibly Flesher himself) came up with the headline for his Saturday report on Bart Stupak's decision not to run for re-election in Michigan's 1st Congressional District, tells readers that:
Tea Partiers are poor winners.
The residents of Stupak's district are federal money-grubbers who can be fooled by candidates holding the right position on "hot-button issues."
Based on a poli sci prof's contention, Stupak (pictured at top right with his wife in an AP photo) would "absolutely" have won as all the evidence he needed to "prove" the nine-term congressman's re-electability.
Here are the opening paragraphs from the flailing Flesher:
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.
In what is generally being interpreted by most as a surprise move, CNN has recently decided to cover the Tea Party movement from an angle foreign to most in the main stream media - combating stereotypes that are heavily promoted by liberals.
That comparison alone raises some questions, however. How does a network which featured the Roesgen debacle, suddenly find respect for the movement? How does the organization whose award-winning journalists refer to the people as ‘tea baggers', seek to dispel the degrading stereotypes propagated in the media? And how does a network, who just over a week ago minimized a Nevada Tea Party Event of roughly 20,000 people, by speculating that ‘at least dozens' were in attendance, suddenly believe the movement to be legitimate and important?
Most importantly, is the network actively seeking a shift to more fair and balanced coverage, or are they seeking the admiration of conservatives driving the ratings of Fox News? Michelle Malkin for one is skeptical, calling it a desperate move for a ‘ratings-starved CNN'.
The curiosity of the CNN shift has only been exacerbated by the network's desire to have the story covered by conservative writers.
CNN political producer Shannon Travis surprisingly acknowledged that the mainstream media has stereotyped the Tea Party movement in a Wednesday article on CNN.com: "When it comes to the Tea Party movement, the stereotypes don't tell the whole story." Travis continued by emphasizing positive aspects of the nascent grassroots movement and noting the presence of minorities.
The producer's article, simply titled "Reporter's notebook: What really happens at Tea Party rallies," recounted what he saw during five days of the Tea Party Express's convoy across the nation. He first summarized the slant often found in the media's coverage of the conservative protests: "Here's what you often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: offensive posters blasting President Obama and Democratic leaders; racist rhetoric spewed from what seems to be a largely white, male audience; and angry protesters rallying around the Constitution."
After recounting the alleged racial incidents against Representatives John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver, Travis contrasted the stereotype with what he actually observed: "But here's what you don't often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: Patriotic signs professing a love for country; mothers and fathers with their children; African-Americans proudly participating; and senior citizens bopping to a hip-hop rapper."
After a bit of a respite primarily due to NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, the audience desertion from the Big 3 networks' evening news broadcasts has again resumed.
Not that the first quarter of 2010 was all peaches and cream. Last week, Media Bistro noted that ABC's "World News Tonight" had "its lowest-rated first quarter ever."
But the results for the first week of the second ratings quarter are beyond awful. The total audience for all three evening news shows came in under 20 million. For context, recall that during a traditionally low-audience summer week in 2006, Drudge headlined ("TV's Lowest Week") a disastrous drop -- to 21 million viewers. Now it appears that what was once considered a really bad summer week four years ago (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) might be a typical week during 2010's prime spring viewing season.