There is no doubt that the piece by Shannon Travis, Reporter's notebook: What really happens at Tea Party rallies, deserves credit for being one of the first to offer fair coverage of the Tea Party movement outside of Fox News. NewsBusters has seen the value in such reporting from CNN. As Matthew Balan reported yesterday evening, "Travis's article is a welcome breath of fresh air, especially when you consider that it was former CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen who lashed out at an early point against the Tea Party movement a year ago in April 2009."
That comparison alone raises some questions, however. How does a network which featured the Roesgen debacle, suddenly find respect for the movement? How does the organization whose award-winning journalists refer to the people as ‘tea baggers', seek to dispel the degrading stereotypes propagated in the media? And how does a network, who just over a week ago minimized a Nevada Tea Party Event of roughly 20,000 people, by speculating that ‘at least dozens' were in attendance, suddenly believe the movement to be legitimate and important?
Most importantly, is the network actively seeking a shift to more fair and balanced coverage, or are they seeking the admiration of conservatives driving the ratings of Fox News? Michelle Malkin for one is skeptical, calling it a desperate move for a ‘ratings-starved CNN'.
The curiosity of the CNN shift has only been exacerbated by the network's desire to have the story covered by conservative writers.
(Explanation after the jump...)
Malkin received an e-mail from the publicity department at CNN which read:
I thought this might be an interesting post for you- a behind-the-scenes piece about the Tea Party and how the stereotypes don't tell the full story. Let me know if you need anything else!"
Promoting the piece in this manner feels like someone fishing for free publicity. If CNN legitimately wants to make a move to a more centered vantage point, or pander to a different base altogether, then it will happen by virtue of their content, not because they use conservative blogs for cheap publicity.
But she hasn't been the only one actively sought after to cover the story. In addition to Malkin being contacted, your humble correspondent also received a feeler e-mail to see if he was interested in covering the new Tea Party angle.
As stated earlier, CNN deserves credit for when they get something right from a fairness perspective, which they clearly have done in this case. I, for one, applaud the network for their efforts, and look forward to future pieces of this nature.
But why does the network feel it necessary to ask conservatives to promote the piece for them?
Photo Credit: Tracy Sabo/CNN
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