NBC News correspondent Luke Russert marveled at Code Pink's disruption of the National Rifle Association's press conference in a Friday post on Twitter: "That was probably the most effective code pink protestor I've ever seen."
On Wednesday's American Morning, CNN's Ed Lavandera focused on the "overwhelmingly white" turnout at the rallies sponsored by the Tea Party Express organization and played up the criticisms that there is an "anti-minority undertone" at the demonstrations.
Lavandera, who is covering the Tea Party Express' cross-country tour, highlighted the race issue from the beginning of his report, which first aired 13 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour: "The crowds turning out for the Tea Party Express rallies are overwhelmingly white. Is this lack of diversity a problem for the Tea Party movement? We're taking a closer look."
The correspondent noted some of the apparently "subtle efforts to make the tea party appear diverse," such as a hip hop performance and speeches by black tea party activist Lloyd Marcus. Marcus stated that "there's not a lot of black folks here, basically, because they haven't seen the light yet. They are still hypnotized by the first black or African-American president. But they haven't really looked at the man and what he's doing." This assertion is supported by a Gallup poll from earlier in March that found that President Obama's approval rating among blacks is at 89%, down slightly from 96% in August 2009.
Big liberal protests, such as the Million Mom March (for gun control), the 2006 demonstrations in favor of illegal immigrants’ “rights,” and numerous anti-war marches all garnered heavy play and adoring coverage from the broadcast networks, cable news outlets, and big papers like the New York Times. So how did those news outlets react to Saturday’s huge protest with conservative themes? MRC’s analysts scrutinized the coverage; here’s their report card:
■ ABC, CBS and NBC: The broadcast networks did not offer any pre-rally coverage before Saturday’s protests, but offered decent coverage of the event itself. ABC’s World News on Saturday was pre-empted by college football, but Good Morning America offered full reports on both Saturday and Sunday, as did NBC’s Today. Both the NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News led with the rally on Saturday night, although CBS’s morning news shows gave the protest almost no attention.
The tone of coverage, however, was largely antagonistic.
CNN’s Jim Spellman did his best to paint the participants of the Tea Party Express’s rallies across the nation in late August and early September as a bunch of extremists on Saturday’s Newsroom. Spellman played clips which zeroed-in on the protesters who called President Obama a Nazi, carried guns, or forwarded “outlandish conspiracy theories,” and labeled all of them “a dark undercurrent.”
The CNN journalist followed the Tea Party Express organization’s bus caravan during its 2 week journey across the United States, and the thirty-plus rallies held where it stopped. Spellman appeared just after the beginning of the 5 pm Eastern hour of Newsroom, and first played clips from seven men and six women who participated in these rallies. Six of the thirteen clips came from people who could be portrayed as “extreme,” as anchor Don Lemon put it, included one who referred to a “Gestapo-type tactic” and another who carried an AK-47: