New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters marked 10 years since the launch of the Tea Party movement, which grew out of the recession of 2009 and spread with huge yet peaceful rallies against encroaching federal government, specifically Obamacare. Needless to say, the landmark was greeted in hostile fashion by the paper.
The print headline in the lead National section slot on Thursday gave this backhanded compliment: “Tea Party Failed to Tame Deficits, but It Succeeded in Fueling Rage.”
There is certainly not much appetite for fiscal conservatism in either party these days, and Obamacare remains on the books. But Peters launched his account with loaded language that stereotyped limited government Tea Party advocates as crazed, angry radicals. This in an age where violent and vandalistic street brawls are often instigated by the radical left.
Yet somehow coverage of left-wing protest continue to avoid the negative descriptions of “anger” and “rage” in the mainstream press:
In the late summer of 2009, as the recession-ravaged economy bled half a million jobs a month, the country seemed to lose its mind.
Lawmakers accustomed to scheduling town hall meetings where no one would show up suddenly faced shouting crowds of hundreds, some of whom brought a holstered pistol or a rifle slung over the shoulder. One demonstrator at a rally in Maryland hanged a member of Congress in effigy. A popular bumper sticker at the time captured the contempt for the federal bailout of certain homeowners. “Honk if I’m Paying Your Mortgage,” it said.
Speaking of disturbing fire rituals...the paper’s own GOP-loathing columnist Paul Krugman once welcomed the hypothetical immolation of moderate Democrat Joe Lieberman “in effigy.” And there was this disturbing anecdote from Election Night 2008, when Barack Obama vanquished John McCain:
We had an Election Night party at our house, thirty or forty people....We had two or three TVs set up and we had a little portable outside fire pit and we let people throw in an effigy or whatever they wanted to get rid of for the past eight years.
Back to Peters (click “expand”):
Organizers convened mass gatherings across the country called “tea parties,” and they had a specific set of demands: Stop President Barack Obama’s health care law; tame the national deficit; and don’t let the government decide which parts of the economy are worth rescuing.
Ten years since that summer of rage, the ideas that animated the Tea Party movement have been largely abandoned by Republicans under President Trump. Trillion-dollar deficits are back and on track to keep growing. The Affordable Care Act has never been repealed, and Republicans concede it may never be. When Congress approved $320 billion in new spending this month as part of its latest budget deal, most Republicans in the Senate voted yes, prompting a lament from Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who was first elected in 2010 as a slash-and-burn fiscal conservative.
But Mr. Paul and others who have signed the Tea Party’s death certificate overlook one way it continues to define the country today. It ignited a revival of the politics of outrage and mistrust in government....
Most galling, the text in bold below accusing Tea Partiers of racism was a late addition after outcry on Twitter. It was even accompanied by an announcement by the paper on Twitter:
One significant limitation to the Tea Party is the contradiction in its DNA: It was a mass uprising based on notions of small-government libertarianism that are popular with think tanks but not so popular with most Americans. And as Mr. Obama’s allies saw the movement, its outrage over the debt and deficit had another purpose: giving cover and a voice to those who wanted to attack the first black president -- people who in some cases showed up at rallies waving signs with racist caricatures and references.
This is the tweet the paper sent out: “We have updated this story assessing the policy failures of the Tea Party movement 10 years after its rise to include context about attacks on President Barack Obama and racist displays at some Tea Party rallies.”
The rest of Peters’s analysis is mostly sound -- though the paper conveniently skipped its own role in poisoning the well for any kind of spending reform needed to actually balance the budget: But the selective outrage over large yet peaceful limited-government protests is galling from a paper that spent years smearing the Tea Party as racist radicals.
As noted, the paper had to add a mention of Tea Party "racism," another cave-in to Twitter pressure from the left-wing mob, which expects the paper to unwaveringly follow the liberal Democratic line (which, to be fair, it almost always does). A photo caption under a huge photo of a protest near the Capitol hinted at the same point: “Some of the signs at a Tea Party rally in 2009 disparaged Barack Obama.”
David Harsanyi at The Federalist actually predicted that update, and also pointed out the paucity of the Times’s racism claims.