In case there are any residual doubts about how bad the tea partiers have been treated, here are the Top Five ways the left and the media have abused a grassroots movement. The coverage has been so hateful and so biased, it was almost impossible to narrow the list. Here they are in reverse order, just in time for the big tea party events April 15:
5) Protesters are Anti-Government
The media and the left portray tea parties as "anti-government" because it undermines a patriotic grassroots movement. Tea partiers aren't anti-government, they are anti-big government. That's just not the story journalists tell. The "anti-government" theme is strong, cropping up in more than two dozen stories in The Washington Post and New York Times combined. Very few of them mentioned the word "big" in reference to government.
Instead, it's NPR's Liz Halloran claiming tea parties have been boosted by "restive Republicans who have found refuge in the year-old anti-tax, anti-government uprising." Or Frank Rich of The New York Times who compared tea partiers with Andrew Joseph Stack, the man who flew a plane into an IRS building. "Stack was a lone madman, and it would be both glib and inaccurate to call him a card-carrying Tea Partier or a ‘Tea Party terrorist.' But he did leave behind a manifesto whose frothing anti-government, anti-tax rage overlaps with some of those marching under the Tea Party banner."
Then there's former CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen, who became the story when she reported from the Chicago tea party on April 15 last year. Roesgen rudely interrupted one of the protesters and slammed the event for being "anti-government." After she bullied her interview subject, Roesgen concluded that "you get the general tenor of this," tea party. "Anti-government, anti-CNN since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox and since I can't really hear much more and I think this is not really family viewing."
CNN is more family friendly now. Roesgen no longer works at the network.
4) Tea Partiers Are Stupid
Calling conservatives stupid is typical left-wing strategy. The left labeled Reagan stupid or senile. George W. Bush was consistently portrayed as stupid by detractors in the left and the media. It only makes sense that tea partiers get the same treatment.
In the case of the tea parties, some of the biggest offenders were also some of the biggest mouths on the left. Last August, former Air America host MSNBC regular Janeane Garofalo let the venom fly during an appearance at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 21. Garofalo called tea partiers "functionally retarded adults."
Bill Maher deployed the same strategy in February of this year during HBO's "Real Time" calling tea partiers "cultists. "The teabaggers, they're not a movement. They're a cult, and I'm going to prove it. You know someone has fallen into a cult if you see these signs: One. Cults have their own vocabulary. Now, I don't speak sh**kicker, but I know that in their world, freedom means guns, diplomacy means weakness, elitist means reader, and socialist means black." In Maher's world, stupid means anyone who is conservative.
3) Protesters are Nazis
Nazis are the ultimate villains both for the horror they brought to the world through conquest and their use of industrialized genocide. But while the left went crazy when Lyndon LaRouche fans carried Obama/Hitler posters to protests, they were quick to use the slander for their own devices.
Take MSNBC's relatively obscure host Dylan Ratigan. In February, the host of "The Dylan Ratigan Show" began the program by doing what his network always does - attacking conservatives. "The tea party has a bit of an integrity problem, as everybody from birthers, to open racists, to outright Nazis are actually on the team. And no one involved, including its leadership, seems to mind that fact."
Ratigan learned from the best, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who called the tea parties "Astroturf" before she went on to link them to Nazis. "They're carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare." Later she backed off her complete attack and tried to latch onto tea party popularity claiming, "but, you know, we share some of the views of the Tea Partiers." Sure...
2) Homophobic Slurs
To most ordinary Americans in early 2009, the term "teabagging" meant using a tea bag to make actual tea. Then entire world learned the term had an overt, oral sex connotation, thanks to the media and left-wing pundits.
Nowhere was the use of the term more pronounced than MSNBC. The day before the big tea party event last April, MSNBC's David Shuster made numerous sexual puns during a "Countdown" appearance. "It's going to be teabagging day for the right-wing and they're going nuts for it. Thousands of them whipped out the festivities early this past weekend, and while the parties are officially toothless, the teabaggers are full-throated about their goals," he told viewers. He later used his Twitter account to attack "teabaggers" and their "teabag leader."
Shuster lost out to fellow MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for most adolescent behavior. Maddow's and then Air America radio contributor Ana Marie Cox used the word "teabag" at least 51 times in a in a 13-minute long segment of bad "teabag" puns.
It wasn't just MSNBC. Journalists at numerous outlets used the derisive term. But CNN anchor Anderson Cooper went even farther during the April 15 "Anderson Cooper 360" program. CNN's senior political analyst David Gergen said Republicans were "searching for their voice" after two electoral losses, Cooper followed up by saying, "It's hard to talk when you're tea-bagging." The irony of this attack is that it allows lefties and the media to feel smart and act juvenile at the same time.
1) Calling them "racist"
Playing the race card has become the left's favorite move. It trumps everything else and is virtually impossible to defend against. Naturally, with an African-American president, crying "racism" has become a routine occurrence. MSNBC's Chris Matthews is just one of the milder examples of someone who injects race into everything except commercials.
Whether it's Colbert King of The Washington Post or loose cannon former comedienne Garofalo, racism is the left's preference in attempts to undermine the tea parties.
Former funny lady Garofalo bashed the attendees at last year's tax day tea parties by using several different attacks. The "Countdown" guest called party-goers "a bunch of teabagging rednecks," adding "this is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up."
At least she didn't invoke the KKK or talk about tea partiers wearing sheets. But she didn't have to because Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., did it for her. Clyburn showed up in a column by The Post's Colbert King that claimed "Today's Tea Party adherents are George Wallace legacies." "It reminds me of that period in our history right after Reconstruction," Clyburn said, "when South Carolina had a black governor and the political gains were lost because of vigilantism, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan."
He wasn't alone. In February, "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann focused on suggestions there should be civics literacy testing for registered voters made at the recent Tea Party convention, which Olbermann referred to as the "Tea Klux Klan."
Maddow attacked the same suggestion with her own Klan spin. "And as you could hear, the tea party convention crowd erupted in cheers at the suggestion, although, to be fair, it was sort of hard to tell exactly what the sounds coming from the crowd meant. They were sort of a little bit muffled by, you know, the white hoods," she mocked.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.