Wishful WaPo Website Screams: 'Tea Party's Actions Could Burn Republicans'

The Washington Post home page this morning leads with this wishful-thinking headline: “Tea party's actions could burn the Republicans.” This “news” story by Amy Gardner appeared on page A6 and was grounded in the concern (read: hope) that Tea Party nominations could derail GOP Senate bids. The home page subhead was: “Tea party's influence appears to be doing more harm than good for GOP as candidates who upset establishment with primary wins now stumble.”

Left unsaid: What if most of these candidates win? What’s left except a Democratic pep-rally concept? Gardner just repeated all the latest DNC hopes (and reckless assertions):

In Kentucky, a volunteer for tea-party-backed Senate candidate Rand Paul was videotaped stepping on the head of a liberal protester. [Typically, no mention of the Rand volunteer whose foot was stomped on.]

In Delaware and Colorado, Senate hopefuls Christine O'Donnell and Ken Buck, respectively, are under fire for denying that the First Amendment's establishment clause dictates a separation of church and state. [Wrong. Each said the words weren't there. They aren't.]

In Nevada, GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle is drawing rebuke for running TV ads that portray Latino immigrants as criminals and gang members. [How misstated is this? This admittedly harsh ad warns of "waves of illegal aliens" joining gangs. Is every "Latino immigrant" illegal? Does the ad say all illegal immigrants are gang members?]

Perhaps the most dramatic tea party problems are in Alaska, where Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller is suffering another round of unfavorable headlines after it was revealed late Tuesday that he had admitted lying about his misconduct while working as a government lawyer in Fairbanks. [The misconduct in question was political activity on government computers, which might sound a little less serious if the Post spelled it out with a few more words.]

There's nothing more passive-aggressive than newspapers saying that a candidate is being battered by "damaging headlines" while they are writing the battering headlines. Unsurprisingly, the Post trotted in a Democratic Party spokesman to underline the Post’s theme:

Such moments are giving Democrats hope that the few undecided voters who remain may become turned off and move away from Republicans in the closer races nationwide, including those in Colorado, Nevada and Kentucky.

"In state after state, Republicans nominated a less viable general-election candidate, and that's more on display than ever in these final days of the campaign," said Eric Schultz, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

There was no rebuttal in the story from any analyst in the national Republican Party in the "Republicans could be burned" piece. But the Post made space to underline the theme that perhaps the Tea Party is engulfed in racism:

In Nevada, Angle's controversial advertisements about illegal immigrants are airing at a time when questions remain about racism and prejudice in the tea party. According to a canvass of 647 local tea party groups conducted by The Washington Post, 11 percent of organizers say President Obama's race, religion or ethnic background is very important or somewhat important to their members' participation in the movement.

Eleven percent? Is the whole movement defined by one-tenth? The idea of racism is blurred with concerns about Obama’s religion (or lack thereof). Those should be separated if the Post really wants to know about racism. The creeping secularism of America (with the son of an atheist as president) is a perfectly legitimate concern. Does the Post believe that if they canvassed “anti-war” groups in the Bush years, they wouldn’t have found at least 11 percent who felt Bush’s so-called “fundamentalist” or “Christianist” religion was “very or somewhat important” to their participation?

Gardner closed with concerns not about a GOP candidate, but a Tea Party leader, Judson Phillips. Somehow, a column expressing concern Rep. Keith Ellison’s ultraliberalism and sympathies for radical Muslim groups are “solely about” religion:

"Ellison is one of the most radical members of Congress," Phillips wrote. "He has a ZERO rating from the American Conservative Union. He is the only Muslim member of Congress. He supports the Council for American Islamic Relations, HAMAS and has helped Congress send millions of tax dollars to terrorists in Gaza."

Ellison made the following statement late Wednesday: "I issue a call to civility, and urge Americans to reject the divisive rhetoric of Republican Tea Party leaders like Judson Phillips; including calls for my defeat solely because of my religion."

The Post doesn't really explore whether Ellison is a major backer of CAIR (he is) or seem to read the articles investigating it. This is merely an outbreak of discrimination, case closed.

The Post homepage also highlights an earlier piece by Gardner solely about the Ellison controversy. You can tell where the Post is getting their information. A link that the reader might think is the actual Judson Phillips column is only a picture of the first few lines taken by the leftist website Salon.com. (You have to register to join Tea Party Nation to access the complete article.) Once again, in the older Gardner piece, there’s the Phillips paragraph, then a critic from Rachel Maddow’s blog, and then, once again, the requisite Democratic Party spokesman (and no Republican):

Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement, "The Tea Party has featured congressional candidates that dress up as a Nazi, have ties to a criminal biker gang, have called for the violent overthrow of government, and now the leadership is disgracefully telling voters to vote against someone solely on the basis of their religion. The American people will reject this reckless Right Wing extremism that has unfortunately been embraced by the Republican Party.”

Perhaps the least believable story in Gardner's list today is "Tea party groups say media have been fair." Are they not reading the Post?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis