< The Tea Party vs. Occupy Wall Street

Transcript

Friday, October 14, 2011

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

This is Glenn Beck, talking about Occupy Wall Street.

GLENN BECK:

Capitalists, if you think that you can play footsies with these people, you’re wrong. They will come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Last week we likened the progressive populist protests, now collectively known as the occupation, to its anti-government analog, the Tea Party. But the Tea Party, or parts of it,  objects to that comparison and, according to Politico’s Ken Vogel, has launched a media campaign to fight it. Ken, welcome back to On the media.

KEN VOGEL:

Great to be with you, Brooke.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

So what exactly are these Tea Party organizations doing to delegitimize the occupation?

KEN VOGEL:

Well, were seeing sort of a two-pronged attack. In one prong of it, the organizers of some of the biggest Tea Party groups are seeking to draw distinctions between what they see as the message [LAUGHS] or rather lack of a cohesive message coming from the Occupy protests and what the Tea Party says that it always had as its undergirding focus, being the growth of government and government spending.

The other thing that the Tea Party activists and their organizers are doing is seeking to actually collect evidence of bad behavior, offensive signs, violent rhetoric coming from some of the Occupy protests, and disseminating them on conservative blogs and conservative social media, with the hope that this evidence will eventually percolate through to the mainstream media and sort of turn public opinion against these protesters.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

That sounds kind of familiar.

KEN VOGEL:

It sounds extremely familiar to exactly the type of perhaps less concerted campaign, but a campaign nonetheless, by liberal activists, and Tea Partiers would say the mainstream media, to shape public perceptions of the Tea Party in its early days.

You heard some of the exact same criticisms of disorganization and confusion of message. You heard some of the same criticism about violent rhetoric. You saw almost identical photos of signs that were deemed to be outside of the mainstream of the public debate that were taken at Tea Party protests, as you now see Tea Partiers circulating from the Occupy protests.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

James O’Keefe, notorious for his Acorn and NPR stings, recorded himself talking to what he saw as the most ideologically incoherent members of Occupy Wall Street.

KEN VOGEL:

One of the criticisms that there was of the criticism [LAUGHS]of the Tea Party is that it’s easy in any big crowd to find someone who was going to espouse rhetoric or messages that are deemed to be offensive or potentially disruptive to a civilized public dialogue. And Tea Partiers really reacted harshly when they thought that the media was doing this to them.

Now, however, you see them openly embracing these same tactics to try to marginalize the Occupy protesters. And they’re fairly frank about it.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Another angle that the Tea Party has been working is co-optation by unions and the Democratic Party, again, a strategy exactly like the left was using against the Tea Party, calling them Astroturf and co-opted by the Republicans.

KEN VOGEL:

In the case of the Occupy movement, it’s the labor unions. In the case of the Tea Party it was some of these large Washington-based conservative groups, some of which were, in fact, corporate funded, and they saw, hey, there’s this groundswell of people out there who have a message that is in some ways similar to ours. If we can tap into that, then we can show that there’s more popular support behind the things that we have been pushing for years. And both got criticized.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Apparently, they feel that the Occupy protesters were legitimized by the media too quickly.

KEN VOGEL:

Definitely. Behind their engagement with the Occupy protests you see something of a jealousy towards the way that they feel that these Occupy protesters have not gotten that same type of harsh media scrutiny as they got. And I think that there’s some validity to their gripe here.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Are these attempts to delegitimize the Occupy protesters working, do you think?

KEN VOGEL:

Well, when you talk to folks who are actually encouraging and organizing these efforts, they say no, it’s not working, and they think that it is yet more evidence of media bias that they can - point to specific photos or videos that they think prove that there is just as much extreme behavior as was alleged to have been in the Tea Party movement early on, and yet the media is not in a real concerted way covering it.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

So the left couldn’t get rid of the Tea Party, and it looks like the Tea Party isn’t going to be able to get rid of the Occupiers. The only thing that either side can do is wait for the other to implode?

KEN VOGEL:

That’s one of the strategies that you hear from Tea Partiers. In fact, some of them are urging their colleagues not to engage, and they’re saying by engaging with, attacking the Occupy movement, it only elevates them. Therefore, there is a debate within Tea Party circles about whether they should engage at all or whether they should let this thing kind of run its course.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Winter’s coming.

KEN VOGEL:

Right. Maybe they’ll all go home, but certainly there have been many predictions that this thing would fizzle out and dissipate, and it hasn’t.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Ken, thank you very much.

KEN VOGEL:

My pleasure.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Ken Vogel reports for Politico.com.