Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax day tea parties

CBC Newsworld just hit what is probably a new low in their coverage of the tax day Tea Parties taking place across the U.S. today. Coverage by "American Politics Panelists" Jeffrey Friedman and Rachel Sklar was less than illuminating. I learned that:

  • The tea party protests are organized by Republicans to protest Obama.

  • The tea party protests are actually tea
    parties! Or are they? She wasn't really sure.

  • It's weird that they're using "tea parties" as the name of their protest, since the idea of people sitting down to have tea and biscuits doesn't really fit with the tough messaging that Republicans typically use.

  • The tea party protests don't have a cohesive message because they are mostly organized by conspiracy theorists.

I usually don't get too upset about CBC bias (everyone's got a bias), but this was just awful reporting. While Friedman at least knew what was going on, Sklar didn't seem to have done any research on what she'd be talking about, nor did she seem to be aware that the name was in relation to the Boston Tea Party, and not something the Queen does each day at 4:00.

(UPDATE: Rachel Sklar defends herself in the comments on the Shotgun. Please check it out.)

The Wall Street Journal, not surprisingly, had much, much better coverage of the tea parties. There is an excellent article by Glenn Reynolds that lays out exactly why these protests are not organized by, nor necessarily good for the GOP. Rather than being simply anti-Obama, they're anti-establishment - at many rallies no politicians are being allowed to speak at all. Said one organizer, "This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around."

Not quite the same story that CBC painted, is it? Some more tidbits from Reynolds' article can be found after the jump.

So who's behind the Tax Day tea parties? Ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize...

... The protests began with bloggers in Seattle, Wash., who organized a demonstration on Feb. 16. As word of this spread, rallies in Denver and Mesa, Ariz., were quickly organized for the next day. Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli's Feb. 19 "rant heard round the world" in which he called for a "Chicago tea party" on July Fourth.

(The Shotgun reported on Santelli's "rant" back in February)

As word spread, people got interested in picking a common date for nationwide protests, and decided on today, Tax Day, as the date. As I write this, various Web sites tracking tea parties are predicting anywhere between 300 and 500 protests at cities around the world...

The movement grew so fast that some bloggers at the Playboy Web site -- apparently unaware that we've entered the 21st century -- suggested that some secret organization must be behind all of this.

(This Playboy blog story is true, and also hilarious. The original article has been pulled down (and so has the cache) but you can read a copy and pasted version of the post here. It's just outrageous and hilarious.)

There's good news and bad news in this phenomenon for establishment politicians. The good news for Republicans is that, while the Republican Party flounders in its response to the Obama presidency and its programs, millions of Americans are getting organized on their own. The bad news is that those Americans, despite their opposition to President Obama's policies, aren't especially friendly to the GOP...

... And that's the good news and the bad news for Democrats. It's not a big Republican effort. It's a big popular effort. But a mass movement of ordinary people who don't feel that their voices are being heard doesn't bode well for the party that positioned itself as the organ of hope and change.

Read Reynolds' article in full here.

Cross-posted to The Shotgun.

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