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Feb. 10 2010 - 8:48 am | 10,031 views | 5 recommendations | 9 comments

Iowa Tea Party movement less popular than pot, aliens, and Socialism

Sarah Palin, eleventh governor of Alaska and 2...

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Unsurprisingly, the media covered Sarah Palin’s address at the Tea Party convention in Nashville with unprecedented levels of enthusiasm for a fringe political movement. To be sure, if hundreds of radical leftists gathered for a meet n’ greet, CNN would not show up to document the event.

Yet, there were the mainstream media’s cameras to capture every crazy second of Palin sharing the same stage with Joseph Farah, a man who promotes the birth certificate conspiracy theory and hates gay people, except the cameras seemed to miss Farah’s fruitcake moment in the spotlight, and instead focused almost exclusively on Palin’s cheat notes.

Eric Boehlert offers a hypothetical to illustrate the media’s unique relationship with the right:

What if, in 2006, at Yearly Kos, the first annual convention of liberal bloggers and their readers, organizers shelled out $100,000 for former Vice President Al Gore to address attendees? And what if the same organizers booked as an opening-night speaker a fringe, radical-left conspiracy theorist who’d spent the previous year pushing the thoroughly debunked claim that some Bush White administration insiders played a role in, and even planned, the 9-11 attacks. What if the speaker (also proudly anti-Semitic) received a standing ovation from the liberal Yearly Kos crowd?

Given that backdrop, and given the fact that the 9-11 Truther nut had for weeks bragged about his chance to share the stage with Gore, do you think the press would have demanded that Gore justify his association with a hateful conference that embraced a 9-11 Truther? Do you think pundits would have universally mocked and ridiculed Gore’s judgment while condemning the Yearly Kos convention as being a hothouse of left-wing hate? Do you think Gore’s appearance would have become a thing?

Media representatives may respond that the Tea Party movement is special, and gaining momentum, but Yglesias reports that teabaggers don’t seem to hold more sway than other popular conspiracy theories or political ideologies. According to a Des Moines register poll, a third of Iowans from across the political spectrum say they support the Tea Party movement, but as Yglesias points out

55 percent of Americans say they’re personally protected by a guardian angel. 38 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Cuba and 36 percent are favorably disposed toward socialism, but I don’t see anyone writing newspaper articles about how a populist wave of socialism is sweeping the country. The number of Iowans who like the tea party movement is smaller than the number of Americans who want marijuana legalized or the number of Americans who believe the government has had secret contact with extra-terrestrials.

Surely, dissatisfaction with the government is widespread, and rightfully so. But instead of accurately diagnosing the causes of that discontent, populist leaders have seized upon the anger and harnessed  it — not to reform a political and economic system that heavily favors oligarchical plutocrats– but to blame scapegoats (“the blacks,” “the Progressives,” “the Mexicans,” “the gays,” etc.)

This tends to happen during tough economic times. Demagogues like Farah, Palin, and Beck are the loudest assholes in the room, and with enough confidence and cameras pointed their way, they can quickly gain legitimacy. People are ready to believe in something — anything — that will help them, and whether that’s the Tea Party movement, or aliens, they’ll march under that unified banner all the way to DC.


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  1. collapse expand

    This sounds like a rant –but it seems more like a demand for balanced news coverage.

    As a former reporter, I can say this: if you want coverage –call the editor in chief, and if you don’t get results, call the publisher.

    They tend to be more concerned about their readers and viewers than reporters and lower level editors –the low level editors in particular often direct coverage to the stories which interest them –and often they lack balance. Sometimes, they have an extreme opinions. I’ve known many with extreme right wing views that deliberately slanted news their way with little concern about bias. They feel that other journalists are too liberal.

  2. collapse expand

    Allison thank for a really illustrative column on just how our Main Stream Media pander, misinform, distort and sometime outright lie in covering politics in this country. They are tools of the right wing. I believe Fox News and their ratings success has driven other outlets such as CNN to follow their path.
    Sad commentary on the state of todays journalism.
    Thanks again and keep up the good work. Just registered and tagged this as a favorite site.

  3. collapse expand

    In a way, the media focus on these people is the harbinger of doom for their movement. Given enough attention and enough rope, they will hang themselves. Just a matter of time now. Same with sister Sarah. The more Americans see her the less they will like her.

    • collapse expand

      :…and enough rope, they will hang themselves.”

      Even the fellows at FAUX seem to be giving her an awful lot of rope…feeding her loaded questions, almost daring her to over-load her answers with some megalomaniacal fantasy that exposes her madness in one fell swoop — thereby hanging herself.
      I’ve seen it on Beck, O’Reilly and Hannity…the boys aren’t sure this cookie isn’t aiming at one of their time slots perhaps.
      It was funny when Beck opened with the “she can’t trust anyone any more” intro. She was in shock, not sure how to take it.
      Her performance at the tea party wasn’t up to previous performances, she is already running out of steam. She looks exhausted most of the time now, looks to be relying on stimulants which have a resultant down…entering dangerous territory.
      She made sure she included Iowa in her “real Americans” book tour. She thinks she has that state locked up.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    ” but to blame scapegoats (”the blacks,” “the Progressives,” “the Mexicans,” “the gays,” etc.)”

    I don’t disagree with your general thesis, but have you found any of these folks seriously carte blanche blaming “the blacks”? Progressives, definitely, mexicans and gays less so in the tea party movement, but the blacks?

  5. collapse expand

    THE TEA PARTY IS VITAL FOR PALIN TO WIN…its not winning the voters when season of election nears, but its now!

    http://cliveshome.blogspot.com

  6. collapse expand

    Hard to believe, but the tea party crew has taken a couple of lessons from the king of liberal protest, Saul Alinsky. It matters not how nuts your content is, so long as it is focused on your enemy. Fixing the blame may not fix the problem, but it sure as hell says who the enemy is. The other thing that comes straight away from good old Saul is don’t go outside the experience of your people, they maybe as dumb as dirt, but that gives these stupid asses a certain homey quality. They may not have the best spelling on their protest signs, hell, they might not hava a clue why they are even there, but so long as they are loud, obnoxious and pushy they have a stage presence that is hard to beat. It screams common man is mad as hell, and that works, especially for CNN or FOX.

  7. collapse expand

    If the “tea Party would say exactly what they truly feel, they would be thrown out of a Klu Klux Klan rally and cross burning.

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