Tea Party Coverage Biased?

Friday, March 26, 2010


Tea partiers complain that most media outlets (except Fox News) either ignore them or portray them as a bunch of crazies. We wondered: is the coverage biased? The Washington Independent's (soon to be Washington Post's) David Weigel, who's been covering the tea party movement since it began, offers his take.

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Comments [36]

James Boyce from South Carolina

I would like to add, more germane to the topic, the observatin that the Tea Party has no plan , no program, no agenda, other than blocking and /or repealing what President Obama has done since he took office. There is no recognizable position on the Iraq or the Afghanistan wars ( unless patriotic-sounding bromides count) or the cost in lives and off-budget funds. Wiegel's comment about Tea Partiers knowing more about the contents of the health care bill is interesting: I have seen a lot of citations in exhaustive online postings, but when I read the lines as they appear in the text, they appear to have been chosen purposely to spin the interpretation into a distorted, but apparently plausible version. If there is intellectual seriousness in the Tea Party, it really has not been reported, and I don't want to hold my breath waiting for it.

Nov. 05 2010 02:04 AM
James Boyce from Soth Carolina

I wonder how the dire claims of wreckage of our ecoomy and health care can seriously be made, when they seem so unlikely. First requiring people to purchase health care programs from insurance companies is not any more of an affront to capitaism, or liberty, (or anything, really) than is the long-standing requirement that drivers buy auto insurance. The reasoning is much the same, also: If you are a buyer, you would not want anyone buying health care on the way to the ER any more ethan you would want a driver to buy it after an accident. The insured don't much want to pay for the services needed by the uninsured, although costs like these will still occur, and accounted for in some manner, which will ultimately be passed on to taxpayers/consumers. The health care bill won't hurt the insurance business, hospitals, or doctors, but will result in a higher demand for their services. How this will stifle business as well as scientific innovation is best explained by presumptive MacArthur Foundation genius grant recipients, for example Rob. I myself imagine that investors in insurance companies, etc., will make do with their meager earnings from here on. Until I bought health insurance, I had no doctor, but rather had to go to free clinics or to doc-in-a-box offices. I had no choice of doctor, but many doctors nonetheless, who knew nothing much about me and saw me for a few minutes before moving on to someone else. This is the case with many in this country, and I want to see anyone who wants to try defend this as good, or even adequate, health care. "Choice" is a word which sounds good, but when it is used disingenously to make the present system seem better thasn it is, I have to protest. Rob, you're upset, yes, but not about health care necessarily, and you fail to say much that is coherent as objection or suggestion about how to administer health care in this country.

Nov. 05 2010 01:48 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

You know, when I was organizing for New Haven's Green Party that issue always bothered me and, after I became inactive, the Party ran a couple of African-Americans who proved embarrassments, they were so desperate to show support from that community.

The answer Springsteen should give is, "My audience is who shows up. I have no control over who likes my music or not and that has no effect on my opposing racism."

Apr. 02 2010 09:53 AM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

The Tea Partiers are 'objectified', to use a momentarily popular expression from back in the day, in a way that left-wing protestors are not. NPR has not, within my hearing, stepped back and done a story on, say, Code Pink members who regularly disrupt hearings and harass opponents, which asks - who are these people? What are their demographics? Where does their funding come from? Same story with the usual Rumpus Society types who throw around a lot of rocks while demonstrating against their 'Globalism' enemies. Same story, in fact, with decades of followers of Saul Alinsky on the Left. The Tea Partiers are marginalized in the framing.

One tip-off of the biased mind-set is the inevitable notation of the group as 'almost all-white'. Well, I've been to Ani DiFranco concerts, 'green' rallies, and other gatherings of lathered up leftists, and I can assure you that if the implication is that there is a subtle or overt prejudice against African-Americans, then many strains of the American middle-class Left are guilty, too. Bruce Springsteen is a culture-hero of liberal-left America, but if any adoring journalist at NPR or elsewhere has asked him why, if he's so outraged by racism, his audiences remain virtually all-white, I'd like to know about it.

Apr. 01 2010 05:06 PM
Randy Pettit from Elyria Oh

I think Weigel did say that when a group or organization becomes larger and larger you tend to have people that do and say inappropriate things just to get attention. They may not even believe the Tea Party doctrine/dogma but just want to be a part of something.
And I still haven't heard from any of them or the Republican party come their ideas as to what health care reform should be. They just want to tear down the present government not help it.

Mar. 30 2010 04:37 PM
Not a Chance

Rob doesn't have a clue... he even thinks pulic radio is still largely funded by tax-payer dollars. Where ya' been the last sixteen years, Rob?

Gingrich and crew eliminated the National Endowment for the Arts after they took over Congress in 1994. They gutted Public Radio funding.

NPR now receives about 2% of it's funding "from bidding on government grants and programs, chiefly the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the remainder comes from member station dues, foundation grants, and corporate underwriting."

... and you're delusional if you think NPR has a liberal bias. I'm definitely left of center, and to me, NPR has been center-right ever since Bob Edwards was ousted as host. After that, Bushies saw to it that the CPB was loaded with TRULY biased conservatives (most notably, Ken Tomlinson)... they saw to it that NPR would become fully "balanced" in its content. All that accomplished, in MY view, was to give one more Big Media conservative venue to the Right, at the expense of pertinence and fac-based reporting.

Rob, you're so overwhelmingly misinformed, you're testament that no REAL liberal (meaning fact-based) journalism exists anymore in this country.

Mar. 30 2010 01:50 PM
Lia kass from Victor, Idaho

Sorry I'm slow; describe PLANS. STRATEGIES. For anything you like; healthcare (the small percentage you refer to), education, immigration, you name it. Or is it just a Whine-Tasting party?

Mar. 29 2010 06:47 PM
Rob from NY

In the best of times, most Americans would be against spending billions on government healthcare. At a time of 10 percent unemployment, this does nothing to help our economy and it will discourage employment in the private sector. Socialized medicine is being pushed so hard by the Democrat Party because they see it as a once in a century chance to fundamentally change the relationship of the citizen to the state. It will make citizens abolutely dependant on the government for their wellbeing. The true number of long term uninsured people who are legal residents who CAN AFFORD insurance but CHOOSE not to buy it is a small percentage of the population. Figure out a way to help that percentage of the population without turning a huge chunk of the economy upside down (unless like I said, the real agenda is to make the citizen dependant on government agencies and the politicans who fund them).

Kind of like the way you seem to be dependant on me to read you a Tea Party bedtime story instead reading and comprehending for yourself. If you are waiting for NPR to spoon feed you the facts, you will be waiting as long as my grandfather will be waiting for a hip replacement once Obamacare kicks in.
American medical R&D will slow to a crawl where once it led the world.

But don't take my word for it. Go visit a governemnt sponsored Indian Reservation clinic, VA hospital or prison infirmary to see the quality of care that is in store for us but Congressmen have exempted themselves from.
How was that? And I am not even funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

If you cannot understand that and unable to figure it out on a Tea Party website, then I will turn the conversation to the appauling state of the public school system.

Mar. 29 2010 02:01 PM
Lia kass from Victor, Idaho

Yes, yes, yes Rob. I had already been to the site. Now within those parameters I would like to hear DETAILS of how you see problems this country faces being addressed. With regard to healthcare, for instance, do you see any problem with the current situation and trend? If not, you need not say more. If you agree there are problems, what are they and what is the path to improvement?

That is what interests me with regard to this issue and all issues but I have not heard from you or anyone portrayed in the media. Which may well be a short falling of the media. I was also unable to figure it out on the Tea Party website..which may be a short falling of mine. So please help me out.

Mar. 29 2010 12:32 PM
Rob from NY

Do you have an internet connection? Go to http://www.teapartypatriots.org/ and read the platform and visit the hundreds of Tea Party chapters across the nation.
While you do that, savor the irony that a public GOVERNMENT SUPPORTED media outlet like NPR which collects millions of dollars in tax and private funding is at your service and has completely failed you in providing information. Instead you demand that little old me hand hold you to the nearest Tea Party site run by PRIVATE CITIZENS stating their goals. That is a classic example of how inept and untrustworthy government agencies are.
The short version is: Follow the US Constitution in regard to government interference in the rights of the individual citizen. Have a nice day!

Mar. 29 2010 11:26 AM
Lia kass from Victor, Idaho

Rob, again: Can YOU illuminate the true constructive positions of the Tea Party? What you would like to see the media portray? This is your opportunity. Please use it here.

Mar. 29 2010 10:37 AM
Rob from NY

David Weigel is a reporter. If he decides not to report that is his issue but I'm not surprised. The AP covering the Searchlight, NV Tea Party said this:
"Reid supporters set up a hospitality tent Saturday in the parking lot of a Searchlight casino, about a mile from the tea party rally".
As I stated above, Breitbart said this "hospitality tent" was diverting Tea Party protesters away from the protest site and threw eggs at a bus and were openly hostile to him and others.
This is what passes for journalism today.
Again, I expect NPR to cover this incident in full.

Mar. 28 2010 08:14 PM
Lia kass from Victor, Idaho

Rob, why didn't David Weigel contest those events? He didn't. He protested that they were given undue media attention. I wanted him to illuminate the other side of the coin, the instances or reasoning that SHOULD be covered more. Why didn't he? Maybe you can do it here.

Mar. 28 2010 05:57 PM
Rob from NY

The above mentioned Andrew Breitbart and other conservatives were accosted and had their vehicals attacked with eggs at the Searchlight, NV Tea Party and Andrew Breitbart says he has the whole incident on TAPE....that means proof of wrong doing.
Will NPR and On the Media focus on that or just ignore it because it runs against their tired left-wing narrative?
Again, please NPR, use our tax money not to be a propaganda organ for the left but broadcast the unvarnished truth of a news event.

Mar. 28 2010 05:55 PM
mozo from nyc

OK, Rob. The Tea Party is about civil rights. The Tea Party "folks" are incredibly diverse and tolerant.

From a recent Quinnipiac Poll:

* 74 percent are Republicans or independent voters leaning Republican;
* 16 percent are Democrats or independent voters leaning Democratic;
* 5 percent are solidly independent;
* 45 percent are men;
* 55 percent are women;
* 88 percent are white;
* 77 percent voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008;
* 15 percent voted for President Barack Obama.

A total of 19 percent of American voters trust government to do the right thing "almost all of the time" or "most of the time," compared to only 4 percent of Tea Party members.

While only 33 percent of all voters have a favorable opinion of Sarah Palin, 72 percent of Tea Party members have a favorable opinion of her.

I don't see these guys ever marching in Selma or supporting their gay children.

Mar. 28 2010 04:17 PM
Rob from NY

Lia Kass
You have been lied to. The spitting and bigotry accusations you have mentioned have NO proof.
Why is On the Media spreading lies that gulible listeners are swallowing whole?
Should tax money be spent to spread false accusations that deliberately mislead the public?
I will listen for an on-air apology that will probably never come.

Mar. 28 2010 03:07 PM
Lia kass from Victor, Idaho

Once again:

Am I missing something or did David Weigel fail to make the obvious statement needed to lend credibility to everything else he said? Something to the effect of, "Of course I and most tea party members are appalled and humiliated by the extreme bigotry of some of our members."

He did however, reduce death threats, spitting in the face, and racial slurs to "point and laugh" moments. I was hoping to be enlightened to the more reasoned breadth that might exist within the party that he claims is not covered by the media. He spoke with a nice cultivated air as if this might occur but it did not.

Mar. 28 2010 01:05 PM
Rob from Lex, KY

Many of the comments reflect a painful ignorance and or duplicity as well as a sanctimonious intolerance for dissent and civil rights protest. Yes, the TEA party movement is about civil rights. NONE of the TEA party folks I know would ......urinate on Bush if he were on fire. The liberty crowd is about that - LIBERTY not big government republicanism. The first modern TEA party was a grassroots fund raiser for LIBERTARIAN Ron Paul. Just because a few neo-con statists like Beck and Palin jump in front to try to hijack the movement does not mean we are Republicans. TEA party folks are incredibly diverse and far more tolerant and respectful than the idiots who dismiss them as teabaggers.
Every event will have a lone kook who gets out of line but the report merely repeated the ALLEGATIONS of slurs and spitting and so far I have seen nor heard no evidence that this actually happened. That gets reported, but scant attention paid to a videotaped incident of an SEIU thug assaulting a black TEA party activist. No bias. No, of course not, no media bias. FEH!

Mar. 28 2010 11:26 AM
Sara from Vermont

I assume that every group that organizes and does what they call "speaking truth to power" is marginalized and mischaracterized by the main stream media and society. These groups are also probably represented favorably by media that agrees with them and villainized by media on the extreme opposite side. Those like me who haven't been to any tea party events shouldn't say with certainty what happened, video helps but doesn't capture everything. The only reason I think that I can say this is because I've been to some protests where most people were peacefully speaking their mind and a few were acting out violently.

I would also like OTM to find some video/audio clips of the slurs protesters are accused of. I'll admit, I simply believed it when I heard it, but don't simply trust democratic leaders because they more often reflect my values.

In any case isn't it a sign of a healthy vibrant democracy to see tax payers out speaking their mind whether you agree or not.

Mar. 28 2010 11:17 AM
owls head from Austin, TX

Don't point and laugh [or hate], don't generalize from the crazies, and DO talk to people and find out why they believe what they do is the way all news stories should be covered, not just the Tea Baggers. What a different portrayal of international news, the Middle East in particular, we would have if we did that!

Mar. 28 2010 11:09 AM
Rob from NY

Gee, I wonder if NPR put the Code Pink freaks and ANSWER under the same mircoscope?

Mar. 28 2010 10:57 AM
mozo from nyc

This was a disingenuous story. I am currently down in Central Florida betewwn Tampa and Orlando where there are plenty of Tea Party people. They argue the facts (e.g. Obama was not born in the US), exhibit circular reasoning, listen exclusively to Fox News, and resort to ad hominem attacks to the point of being racist. This is NOT a political party of deep thinkers and refuses to live in the 21rst century.

Mar. 28 2010 10:37 AM

The REAL bias involved in all the media exposure given to the so-called tea party movement, and in how they were treated by police: That same weekend, in the same town, little reportage of antiwar protesters arrested for doing nothing more than peacefully crossing a police line, which had specifically been put there to cause such arrests. Meanwhile, NO ARRESTS for the hate speech and spitting on a congressman at the fake protests that were being forced down our news throats.

The REAL bias is in FAVOR at least of the existence of the negative development of tea bagging bullcrap. It's the ANTIWAR movement that, although being real, long-lasting, and PEACEFUL, is discriminated against.

My cynical-laugh reflex was activated by some poster calling "speaking truth to power" this astroturf bunch of brownshirts whose supposed "protests" are ACTING IN SUPPORT OF THE POWERS THAT ARE IMPOVERISHING THEM, even if they don't know it. http://www.webofdebt.com/

It is the people who ARE speaking truth to power whose voices are suppressed in our controlled media. How many times did you see Howard Zinn on TV? http://www.globalresearch.ca/

How deafening was the media silence that followed Russell Tice's bombshell revelations as soon as Bush left office?

And don't talk about speaking truth to power unless you have read what Sibel Edmonds has to say. http://ow.ly/1rI2G
THAT'S speaking truth to power.

Mar. 27 2010 09:58 PM
Jeffery Wright from Cleveland, OH

From Andrew Breitbart:

Saturday’s “never mind” moment will live in infamy as the Congressional Black Caucus claimed the N-word was hurled 15 times. YouTube video shows that at least two of the men in the procession were carrying video cameras and holding them above the crowd. They have not come forth with evidence to show that even one person hurled the vile racist epithet. The video also shows no head movement one way or another. Wouldn’t the N-word provoke a head turn or two? Is it really possible that in 2010, in a crowd of 30 or 40 thousand people — at the center of a once-in-a-lifetime media circus — not one person’s flipphone, Blackberry, video recorder or a network feed caught a single incident?

If you provide verifiable video evidence showing that a single racist epithet was hurled as you walked among the tea partiers, or you pass a simple lie detector test, I will provide a $10K check to the United Negro College Fund.


Mar. 27 2010 07:23 PM
Rob from NY

In the Midwest
A. I wish the vicious anti-war protesters and violent anti-globalization freaks were put under a microscope like the Tea Party folks.
B. Read my comments on this thread and listen to any NPR broadcast on GITMO. Now try holding NPR to the same standards that you hold me to.

Mar. 27 2010 02:30 PM
In the Midwest (regrettably)

[[9 Posted by: RobMarch 27, 2010 - 01:41PM NY Dan
I to await an apology from NPR regarding the lies against the men and women present at the protest in DC. GITMO detainees get more benefit of the doubt from NPR than US citizens protesting which is their right.]]


Mar. 27 2010 02:25 PM
In the Midwest (regrettably)

Wikipedia says that tea party movement started in reaction to the 2009 Stimulus Package and the bailouts of banks and car companies.

My understanding of the bailouts is that the feds could have extracted better deals from the banks and could possibly have allowed GM to go bankrupt. Both ideas are credible to me although I suspect the howls of GM workers and GM suppliers would have been deafening.

I recently stumbled across a tea party protest (over the health care vote in the house) and I saw that the protesters consisted mainly of anti-abortion activists, a good number of fiscal conservatives, a few "black helicopter" types, and one guy who can only be described as a raving lunatic and a probable racist.

They are not helping their cause by alleging media bias. They sound paranoid. Start your own website or facebook page or whatever.

And stop screaming.

I have enough stress in my life, I don't need to peek into your little bag of crazy.

Mar. 27 2010 02:20 PM
Rob from NY

Sally/Not a Chance
TARP was not forgiven by Bush supporters who were against it and at least TARP was an emergency loan...not a government give away like Obama did in 2009.
Facts people, lets stick with the facts.
I to await an apology from NPR regarding the lies against the men and women present at the protest in DC.
GITMO detainees get more benefit of the doubt from NPR than US citizens protesting which is their right.

Mar. 27 2010 01:41 PM

Was there some evidence to support the rumors of someone being spit on & the N-word & the homophobic slur? Because it would be quite disappointing if OTM were perpetuating a baseless rumor of such proportion. I hope a follow-up on OTM will back up these claims before OTM loses its credibility.

Mar. 27 2010 01:19 PM
Sally from PA

Not a Chance has it nailed...

Mar. 27 2010 01:19 PM
Rob from NY

I expect left-wing bias on NPR and WNYC but you really have to control yourselves. On the Media's Bob Garfield when discussing "Tea Party" protesters speaking truth to power about the government takeover of healthcare, he was stating as facts outrageous accusations with no evidence to back them up like spitting and bigoted comments. A video exists where a protester is cupping his hands and shouting slogans and that is when he was accused of spitting and despite the cameras, no evidence of bigoted comments have come to light.

I know your passionate liberals and leftists trying to promote your agenda but please grow up and be professional and at least stop telling lies at the tax payers expense.
The Doris Duke and Wallace Foundation should be notified of this clearly biased reporting with the intention of smearing people and movements.

BTW...you DELIBERATELY left out the CNN reporter's sneering coberage where she was yelling at a man with a baby in his arms and then citing "the right-wing" FOX news as promoting the gathering.

Please stop telling lies to your audience.

Mar. 27 2010 12:14 PM
Potomacker from Nanjing, PRC

The CNN reporter was 'over the top" during her interview with a tea party protester. Howso? By asking followup questions to the answer "be cause he is."? By even attempting such an interview? And please find me a tea party protester who even cares enough about the HCR bill to cite a page number. And then ask him to find me the page that mentions death panels.
I originally thought this interview might even evaluate whether the coverage of the tea party events merited the amount of attention that they garnered. Clearly the two talkingheads saw no bias to even ponder that matter because frankly there were a lot of rallies in favor of health reform and against the wars that got ad get no coverage. But hey, if it's not already on television, it's hardly worth discussing.

Mar. 27 2010 07:07 AM
Not a Chance

... in other words, all it took was Obama's inauguration for nostalgia to set in and allow Bushies to forgive Bush's role in TARP... he was quickly back at 28%.

Mar. 27 2010 12:26 AM
Not a Chance

... Bush did finally dip below 28% just as he left office, due to losing some of his hard-core base over TARP.

... he almost immediately recovered the lost 6 % as the Bushie core woke up to the fact that America now had a black president.

Mar. 27 2010 12:21 AM
Not a Chance

The Tea-baggers are disgruntled, hard-core Bushies squirming in denial over the results of their last decade of political choices.

They cannot bear the truth that they are primarily responsible for voting in the irresponsible leaders that ruined our country in a mere 12 years of Republican rule and 8 years of Bush.

The numbers fit exactly:

-Bush never went below 28% popularity due to his hard-core base of Bushie followers.

-Obama, at his most popular, could not latch on to 28% of the populace.

-The Tea-baggers have the sympathy or outright allegiance of 28% of the population.

This is enough to convince me that we are talking about the same 28% of Americans in all three cases.

These 28% are well-funded enough, deluded enough, and unscrupulous enough in their desire to win at any cost, that they have succeeded in confusing the political whims of another 8-12 percent of the less-well-informed population.

If and when the media starts doing its job of factually informing, rather than going for ratings with point-counterpoint charades, the Bushie Republican core will cease to influence that 8-12 percent, and Republicans will never again be more than a perpetually disgruntled, aging fragment of America... we are already seeing this type of shift with Health Care as the media begins to focus on pertinent facts about the Health Care Bill.

Mar. 27 2010 12:14 AM
Lia kass from Victor, Idaho

Am I missing something or did David Weigel fail to make the obvious statement needed to lend credibility to everything else he said? Something to the effect of, "Of course I and most tea party members are appalled and humiliated by the extreme bigotry of some of our members."

He did however, reduce death threats, spitting in the face, and racial slurs to "point and laugh" moments. I was hoping to be enlightened to the more reasoned breadth that might exist within the party that he claims is not covered by the media. He spoke with a nice cultivated air as if this might occur but it did not.

Mar. 26 2010 10:02 PM

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