CNN Leads Tea Party Special With Racism Charge; Castle a 'Conservative'

CNN led their hour-long documentary "Boiling Point: Inside the Tea Party," which aired on Saturday and Sunday, with the regular accusation from liberals that racism is "running rampant" in the Tea Party movement. Host Shannon Travis highlighted the NAACP's resolution, disgraced former Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams's self-described "foolish satire," and played up two racially-charged signs.

Before raising the racism charge, Travis raised another liberal stereotype perpetuated by the mainstream media: the angry Tea Party: "This is what you know about the Tea Party Movement: rallies like these, angry protesters demanding that lawmakers spend less of your money and spend more time adhering to the Constitution." After stating that "rallies like these across the country, don't tell the full picture" and that "there's a lot you don't know about the Tea Party movement," the CNN host stopped briefly to give some poll numbers on the partisan breakdown of the movement before proceeding to the race issue:

TRAVIS: In order to get a sense of what this movement is really about, we have to take an accurate look at who these people actually are. I want to share with you some of our latest numbers from our CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. Forty-nine percent of Tea Party members and supporters are actually Republican, according to this poll; 43 percent of them are independent; and eight percent are Democrats.

One thing that we have to talk about is, as the movement has grown in size, there's also been one sizable controversy, and that's this notion that Tea Party activists are racists. It actually came to a head this past July, when the NAACP, basically- they passed a resolution, saying that racism was running rampant, and that Tea Party leaders, figures, aren't doing enough to actually put a stop to it.

NAACP PRESIDENT BEN JEALOUS (from NAACP convention): Spell the bigots and racists in your ranks, or take full responsibility for all of their actions. We will no longer allow you to hide like cowards behind signs that say lynch our president or anyone else.

TRAVIS: So after the NAACP passed that resolution, Tea Party activists swiftly responded, saying- no, we are not racist.

Unsurprisingly, Travis continued with the Mark Williams controversy, airing a clip of a sit-down interview he conducted with the former Tea Party Express leader:

TRAVIS (voice-over): But then something strange happened. Mark Williams- he did something that many people saw as unmistakably racist.

WILLIAMS: Well, good morning, KGO Newstalk 810. I'm Mark Williams, in for-

TRAVIS (on-camera): You wrote this satirical letter -

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

TRAVIS: That became pretty well known. I'm just going to read a little bit of it for people who might not remember. It starts off, 'Dear Mr. Lincoln, we coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences, along with the rewards'- probably angered a lot of people. 'How will we coloreds ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn?'- totally racist. What were you thinking, Mark?

WILLIAMS: Well, it was one of the worst and most foolish pieces of badly done satire, and for a professional like me, to the point of embarrassment. Clearly, I apologize to people of color, of all colors.

TRAVIS: What did it cost you?

WILLIAMS: It cost me a great deal of credibility. It harmed a movement that I worked very hard to build, which is why I parted company with the movement.


After playing the clip of the interview, an on-screen graphic did actually note that "Mark Williams was widely criticized within the Tea Party for his comments. He resigned."

Travis concluded this first part of his documentary by highlighting Tea Party leader Rev. C. L. Bryant, a former chapter president of the Garland, Texas NAACP. During his interview of Rev. Bryant, the host raised the uncommon depictions of President Obama as a witch doctor or a pimp at Tea Party rallies, which liberals and the mainstream media have used to paint the movement as racist:

Screen cap of Obama as witch doctor sign at Tea Party rally; Rev. C. L. Bryant, Tea Party Express; & Shannon Travis, CNN Political Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgREV. C. L. BRYANT, FORMER NAACP CHAPTER PRESIDENT: We're still here, and we will not go away quietly into the night. We will stand and we will fight! I've been across this country with this Tea Party movement, and I personally have been received with open arms because we all believe the same thing.

TRAVIS: I want our viewers to know that you were actually president of an NAACP chapter in Garland, Texas.

BRYANT: Yes, sir. I was.

TRAVIS: I've seen some of the signs of Obama as a witch doctor, depictions of him as a- with a monkey. I've seen him dressed as a pimp. How do you feel about those personally when you see some of those?

BRYANT: I feel that we have always said that those people have never been welcome in this particular group, and we soon dispel anyone who have those types of leanings.

Later in the hour, the CNN journalist labeled outgoing Delaware Representative Mike Castle, who has a lifetime ACU score of 52.49 and a 2009 ADA score of 55, a "conservative." Travis also reacted vociferously to a radio interview of Catle's Republican primary opponent, Christine O'Donnell:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from WGMD-FM interview): Earlier, we were talking about Castle, and apparently a vote he made, which I guess is a vote in support of the terrorists.

DELAWARE REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: Absolutely-

TRAVIS: What!?

O'DONNELL: He voted against arming the airline pilots.

TRAVIS: That he voted in support of the terrorists? That's the kind of incendiary language that a lot of Republicans use against liberals, and they're using that same kind of tactic against another conservative. This is getting really, really ugly. (to O'Donnell) This is as nasty as Delaware's probably ever seen.

Interestingly enough, the host surprisingly acknowledged during an April 7, 2010 report on CNN.com that "when  it comes to the Tea Party movement, the stereotypes don't tell the whole story."

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center