The conservative leaning Media Research Center has taken a look at mainstream media TV coverage of the Tea Party movement in their first year of existence. The conclusion: Bias. Big time bias. The report just came out. You can read the main highlights below. The full report is here.
Let me just say that beyond the well known liberal slant by the media the other problem in the media today is that it is VERY easy to get lazy and just simply buy into the stereotypes. Just because the tea party folks don’t happen to be well dressed elites or may like country music or don’t speak in proper media approved syntax doesn’t mean they are a bunch of angry, dumb crazies. Quite the opposite actually. And just because the majority of them are white doesn’t mean that racism is an issue. It isn’t. Those are intellectual lazy stories.
Here’s another issue too: There is an elitism factor at play as well here. Let’s face it. The NY-Washington media corridor loves credentials. If you have a Masters Degree from Princeton or a Doctorate from Columbia then you have “media street cred”. If you went to Community College somewhere in rural Georgia you are looked at differently in the eyes of the media. It’s just a fact. The heart of Tea Party movement is made up average, ordinary, real Americans. I’m not saying you won’t find a few Princeton graduates in the crowd but the media has a tendency to judge people and so you have that bias at play here as well.
Media Research Center analysis:
After reviewing every mention of the Tea Party on ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening newscasts and Sunday talk shows, the MRC found the below alarming trends, statistics and comparisons with other political protests. Highlights:
- ABC, CBS and NBC aired a mere 61 stories or segments about the Tea party over a 12-month period despite the movement’s demonstrated political force
- Another 141 items included brief references to the movement
- Networks virtually refused to recognize the Tea Party in 2009 (just 19 stories) with coverage increasing only after Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts
No Comparison to Liberal Protests
- The Nation of Islam’s “Million Man March” in 1995 was featured in 21 evening news stories on just the night of the march – more than the Tea Party received in all of 2009
- The anti-gun “Million Mom March” in 2000 was preceded by 41 broadcast network reports heralding its message with a dozen positive pre-march interviews w/ organizers and participants
- This promo favor was never granted to the Tea Party
Smeared as Extreme Racists
- After the Sept. 12, 2009 rallies, networks suggested the Tea Party was an extreme or racist movement (see report for examples)
- 44% of network stories (27 out of 61) suggested the movement reflected a fringe or dangerous quality (see report for examples)
- Network reporters strained to protect left-wing causes (such as the anti-war movement) from the outrageous acts of individual protesters, but no such effort was made for the Tea Party