Tea for Two . . . or Three

Matthew Murrey’s NPR Check blog took the network to task for the kid-gloves handling of the Tea Party, obsessing over a tiny turnout at a recent rally:

It’s no secret that like Fox News, NPR is Tea Party friendly turf — even fairly unbalanced Tea Partiers like Lori Medina of Dallas find NPR fair — well, duh. Given that a recent poll shows the Tea Party suck factor growing (almost as high as for Democrats and Republicans), and given that a recent Tea Party rally in Washington, DC, drew a minuscule 100–200 participants (Politico and Slate have a couple of photos — you decide) — no wonder NPR felt obliged to provide amplified and robust coverage to this far right army of Dick. So what does a dinky little DC rally of hardcore rightwingers get on NPR? 

  • A Thursday ATC story featuring highlights of your speakers and a description of the Sen. Rand “Civil Rights” Paul and the unhinged Michele Bachmann as bringing “some star power.”
  • More Thursday amplification of Tea Party talking points from NPR’s Frank James on the “It’s All Politics” blog.
  • An April Fool’s Morning Edition feature with Tea Party fool, Audie Cornish, who explains that “It wasn’t a big group less than 250 people. But they had a big voice.”
  • A Weekend Edition Sunday feature where some of those several hundred attendees get to weigh in on US foreign policy in Libya — “. . . when it boils down to it, we are the country that’s done the great things in the world; we are the leaders, and that’s a role we still have to have.”
So what gives? Even if one concedes that the Tea Party represents a force in American politics, one can easily argue that a group like MoveOn represents an equally powerful force in electoral politics. So take a look at how on-air Tea Party coverage compares to on-air MoveOn coverage on NPR. That’s 789 for the Tea Party compared to 106 for MoveOn — very fair, very balanced.

One of the sources Matthew cites is this post on the Media Matters blog, with Tea Partiers saying NPR is pretty fair after all. As usual, the NPR Check post is well documented by links that themselves lead to a good read. This Huffington Post story, for instance, wonders at press coverage in general for the dwindling numbers of Tea Partiers.

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