It’s Tea Time! Cable Networks More Concerned About Competition’s Viewpoint Than Good Journalism
While certainly multiple protests around the country are worthy of attention from news organizations, some cable TV journalists have started sniping at each other in regards to coverage. Much of it is predictable, but through the course of the day it has become a bit of a side show.
James Rainey at The Los Angeles Times notes the different perspectives offered by FOX News and MSNBC:
You’d expect conservative commentators like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity to be hyping today’s wave of anti-tax “tea parties.” But Fox personalities labeled “news” anchors are right there with their blessings too — one telling us the protests will focus on “how much of our hard-earned money is going to the federal government,” another assuring us the tea parties themselves are sparking economic activity.
The Fox promotions people have been pumping up the volume, with ads celebrating hundreds of rallies and citizens who are “demanding real economic solutions.” That’s in contrast, you see, to the fake solutions President Obama wants to foist on the American people. …
That said, some liberal media voices seem just as intent on squelching the protesters before they’ve shoveled a single bag of Lipton into a single pond. At MSNBC, commentators Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews wrote off the demonstrations as the work of nothing more than crackpots or political stooges.
I’ve got a novel idea: How about if we wait and see what happens at these rallies? Maybe journalists can watch, report how many people are there, describe the kinds of things they say and tell us what they plan to do next.
CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen became an activist defending the federal government while pretending to cover the event as a unbias journalist. She interrupted one of the protesters and slammed the event for being “anti-government,” “anti-CNN,” and “not really family viewing.”
Roesgen asked a man holding his toddler, “Why are you here today?” The man started to respond saying, “Because I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln’s primary thing was he believed people had the right to liberty and they had the right”
She then interrupted him by asking, “But sir, what does that have to do with taxes? What does this have to do with your taxes?” She continued asking questions over his as he asked her to “let me finish my point.” One crowd member was heard to yell “shut up” to the Roesgen.
When the man finished his statement about people having the “right to the fruits of their own labor” and “government should not take it,” Roesgen began arguing with him again and other protesters began to get upset.
She closed by saying “you get the general tenor of this. Anti-government, anti-CNN since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network FOX and since I can’t really hear much more and I think this is not really family viewing. Toss it back to you Kyra.”
Not exactly down-the-middle reporting by a long shot. Her report is here:
MSNBC’s commentators have been hammering FOX all week long, going as low as to use some vile humor in their discussions.
On Tuesday’s “Countdown,” Keith Olbermann played clips of Fox personalities talking up tea parties. “As ever,” he said, Fox was “showing both sides ‘fair and balanced’ — supporting the tea baggers and sponsoring the tea baggers.” Rachel Maddow said that “our colleagues at Fox News are not just reporting on tea bagging, they are officially promoting it.”
David Shuster had this piece:
On the other side of the discussion, FOX is serving up the tea parties by promoting them. “Fox appears to be promoting these events at the same time it is presenting them in a way that looks like reporting,” said Stephen Burgard, director of Northeastern University’s School of Journalism, told POLITICO’s Michael Calderone.
Burgard called the practice “pseudo-journalism,” adding: “We have seen this before from Fox News Channel, but its role as galvanizer of opposition to President Obama’s policies and leadership posture appears to be emerging.”
A Fox spokesperson said the network did not have an executive available to speak about its tea party coverage. A second Fox representative declined repeated offers to address the charge that it was blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy.
While tea party organizers say their movement is nonpartisan, the protests lean hard to the right: Newt Gingrich and Michelle Malkin are on board, as is Freedom Works, an organization run by former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey. And more than a dozen prominent Republicans were set to participate in tea party protests Wednesday, including South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and a slew of other Republicans from Congress.