When I saw this post at liberal blog Crooks and Liars alleging that CNN is “pimping” the “Great American Tea Party Express PR and Propaganda Tour,” I thought perhaps I had stumbled onto an explanation for all the Erick Erickson-related craziness this week. First, CNN hires the incendiary Redstate blogger, then they hit the road with the Tea Party Express? Is this a bid to peel off some Fox News viewers?
Upon closer inspection, however, it appears that while the effect of CNN’s coverage may be to promote the Tea Party Express, that’s not the intent. I think CNN is looking for another kind of gold in them thar Tea Party hills.
C&L’s Karoli makes an excellent case that CNN is giving the Tea Party Express Tour a disproportionate amount of attention, and an inflated sense of the “movement’s” size and intensity:
Since the kickoff of the TeaParty Express Tour, CNN has embedded a small press corps in their custom-painted “CNN Express” press bus for the sole purpose of following teabaggers around the country , reporting 3-4 times daily on the activities of the corporate-funded, RNC-connected Tea Party Express.
This clip from Wednesday boggled my mind. You can see how few there are at this rally, but watch as Ali Velshi and Ed Lavandera turn it into a “movement”.
They miss a real opportunity here, and that’s a shame. Tea Party coverage from other networks either paints the events as Klan rallies, or gatherings of persecuted patriots. CNN has the event organizer saying he thinks the movement is “incredibly diverse,” and that he won’t reach out to black voters because they’ll come flocking as soon as they get around to reading their pocket Constitution. On its face, this is more tone deaf than the first day of American Idol auditions. Doesn’t this guy think it might help if they politely asked the birther lady to put her stuffed monkey away?
At this point, though, the monkey lady benefits the Tea Party more than she hurts it. The movement has always depended more on loudness than volume, and the persecution by the “lamestream media” over “isolated incidents” like this only steels the movement’s resolve. It’s like money in the bank.
Perhaps more damning to CNN is their implication that “disgruntled Democrats” are gravitating toward the Tea Party movement. The basis for this claim is some anecdotal bs that’s completely undermined by their own poll, which found only 4% of Tea Partiers self-identifying as Democrats with a 3% margin of error. Hell, McCain pulled more Democrats than that.
Again, the motivation for this is to keep the story interesting, I think, and not to necessarily shill for the Tea Party. As reporter after reporter has told me, if there’s a bias in the mainstream media, it’s in the direction of laziness.
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