Tea Parties

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Yesterday I watched the Fox News coverage of some of the tea parties for a little bit. I know they have to compensate for the other networks barely touching on a major nationwide event. I know CNN gave it a little attention yesterday morning but only to dismiss a large-scale grass-roots internet-generated movement as if it had somehow instead been a GOP-initiated pretense. [Update: I just saw one clip of a reporter interviewing a protester but then challenging all of his arguments as if she were an opinion columnist before proceeding to walk away with a dismissal of everything he said because Fox News is somehow behind all this (not true), making everyone there anti-CNN justifying a claim that opposition to taxes is automatically right-wing extremism. CNN has apparently defended this reporter for simply doing her job.] But isn't it a bit excessive for Fox to spend almost their entire airtime on it for the whole day? They were treating it the way they cable news networks covered the Obama inauguration, which got record levels of coverage from the media.

I guess it's not a lot more excessive than what cable news channels tend to give to a lot of things, but there are other news stories that deserve some coverage, and sometimes I like to tune in to see some various headlines in a short period of time. For instance, Washington's legislature passed a same-sex civil union law yesterday, and I didn't find out about it until this morning, the Obama Administration is in the middle of deciding how much to reveal from CIA memos during the Bush Administration and how much to reveal about current interrogation practices, there's an ongoing investigation of the Justice Department into violations of the new laws on eavesdropping, and there's a furor rising over Obama's latest lobbyist nominee. [Update: And I notice that Fox News is just getting to the Susan Boyle story today. I've been getting Facebook updates about her since yesterday morning, and it took place five days ago.] I didn't hear about any of these stories when I had Fox News on. The only news not related to tea parties that I got any glimpse of had to do with pirates.

But I am glad at least someone covered these gatherings, so it won't be treated as a non-entity the way the red envelope campaign was. CNN has one link today way down their front page to a story on only one of the gatherings. MSNBC and the New York Times have single stories almost halfway down that at least cover the fact that many of these events took place. The Washington Post only has two links on their main page, and even though they're higher up (but it's a smaller front page), they're both opinion columns that are highly critical of the events. Even the National Review wasn't saying very much about the tea parties yesterday, just a few comments on their blog but no news stories or opinion columns, and today their only mention is a link to a Rush Limbaugh transcript from yesterday. The Wall Street Journal has no reference anywhere on their front page. (Presumably it's too populist for die-hard supply-siders for them to get as much behind it as Fox seems to have done.)

I saw a creative sign at one of these that just made the screen long enough for me to read it, so I may have gotten the last part only mostly right:

Killing Our Economy

But then there were the posters addressing Obama as if he's not a U.S. citizen, and one protester in Texas advocated secession from the union.

It was weird seeing one of these rallies (at the Alamo) led by right-leaning but populist entertainer and would-be commentator Glenn Beck, libertarian rock musician entertainer Ted Nugent (with guitar present and making continued bursts of noise), and conservative entertainer from the world of acting Janine Turner. Then they topped it all off by phoning in a video of entertainer Penn Jillette of the stage magician pair Penn and Teller. I was waiting to see how long it might take for them to involve someone who wasn't just an entertainer who might actually give intelligent commentary, but it was not to be, at least not in that location. (They did have some when they showed the Atlanta tea party when I tuned in a few hours later.)

The Syracuse gathering was right during my classes today, but I'm not sure I would really have enjoyed being at something like this. What I was seeing on TV was too reminiscent of when we went to Manhattan for New Years Eve shortly after we got married. There's nothing fun about standing outside in the middle of a large crowd when everyone else there thinks it's lots of fun to make a lot of noise screaming and clapping, but you can't actually see (and maybe can't even hear) anything that's going on that you're supposed to be watching. It's like going to a concert to listening to the music and finding that the crowd just wants to stand up and cheer and prevent you from paying attention to what you're there to see and hear.

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