Tea Parties have gotten a ton
of media coverage. Have they gotten, in fact, too much
coverage, such that the media exaggerates the movement's importance? Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith
argue so in Politico today, sniffing at the media's dramatic turn from indifference to "manic obsession" with Tea Partiers. Are they right?
- Overhyping Martin and Smith
say news organizations, seeking to make up for past neglect of the Tea
Parties, have overcompensated. The 10,000 Tea Partiers on the national Mall got more press than "the tens of thousands who marched in support of
immigration reform in March." Conservatives like the stories about
opposition to President Obama, while "the left sees them as evidence of
incipient fascism," giving both sides an incentive to play up the Tea
Partiers. Meanwhile, the East Coast media may be a little too
fascinated with, as Republican consultant Alex Castellanos puts it,
"peasants" in revolt.
- Yes and No The Washington Post's Dave Weigel
calls this last charge regarding "young [reporters']" overexcitement at
seeing red state protestors "loaded." He responds by saying that, "if a
political movement, however loosely aggregated, is driving the policies
of one party, it deserves copious and probing coverage." He also thinks
the reason the Tea Parties have been covered more than the anti-war
protests under Bush has to do with partisan media:
News has egged the rest of the media on to follow its lead--and try and
compete for its surging viewership--by covering tea parties. Talking
Points Memo, the Huffington Post, and MSNBC are on a constant search
for outrageous tea party stories, photos, and videos, all of it in
demand by a readership that's angry at these protesters trying to bring
down the president and Congress they worked so hard to elect. By
contrast, there was no right/left interest in more coverage of war
- Fox Has Been Overhyping--And We've Been Following Left-leaning Kevin Drum
says this just goes to show how much influence Fox has. The Tea
Parties, he says, are actually a smaller manifestation of conservative
discontent than "either the Birchers of the 60s or the anti-Clinton
wingnuts of the 90s. That is, the power of populist conservatism has
actually declined over time."
- The Ups and Downs of
Media Narratives This is nothing more than the downward end of the
typical cycle when it comes to media fascination with any given topic,
decides Glynnis MacNicol at Mediaite.
After nearly a month of heavy Tea Party coverage (something needed to
fill the HCR gap!), which itself followed months of intermittent Tea
Party coverage the media may be discovering they have squeezed all they
can out of the Tea Partiers. Cue the new narrative: Actually the Tea
Partiers aren’t that important.
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