Buried: NY Times Plunks GOP Protest In Middle of A-15 Story Titled 'House Democrats Seek Allies for Health Care Vote'

November 6th, 2009 1:01 PM

While the Washington Post ran a full news story by Philip Rucker on the conservative Capitol Hill rally on page 4 on Friday, The New York Times buried it with just six paragraphs – smack dab in in the middle of a story on A-15 headlined "House Democrats Seek Allies for Health Care Vote."

The story by Times reporters Carl Hulse and David M. Herszenhorn focused mostly on how Democrats were organizing their own caucus and gaining endorsements from the AARP, the American Medical Association, and the American Cancer Society.

In paragraph eight, the Times duo finally devoted some 230 words to the conservative rally that drew thousands of Americans from across the country:

While Democrats sought to build support, Republicans engaged in an equally determined effort to block the measure, with House Republicans lining up to address thousands of conservatives gathered at the West Front of the Capitol. No House Republican is expected to vote for the measure, meaning its entire support has to come from within the 258-member Democrat caucus.

At the rally, initiated by Representative Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, those attending were encouraged to press their lawmakers to vote against the bill. Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader, called it the "greatest threat to freedom that I have seen in the 19 years I’ve been in Washington."

"Let’s get to work," Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, exhorted the crowd. "We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and Saturday."

Arriving from around the country, the opponents were imbued with conservative principles and skepticism of the federal government’s ability to administer health care programs.

"The government couldn’t even get the shots out," said Karen Ambrose of Sunbury, Ohio, ridiculing the government’s efforts to vaccinate people for the H1N1 virus as an example of what government-run health care would look like. "Let’s just get the government out of all this."

After the rally, the Capitol police arrested a dozen protesters on charges of causing a disturbance at offices of Ms. Pelosi in the Cannon Building.

The reporters made no mention of the nine far-left Code Pink protesters arrested in Senator Joe Lieberman’s office. On the bright side, the Times didn’t find wacky signs and suggest they represented the entire crowd, as reporters sometimes do.

The rally was briefly mentioned in paragraph two, as Hulse and Herszenhorn anticipated Nancy Pelosi’s accelerated "landmark vote" for enhanced statism:

Democratic vote counters, working as thousands of conservative protesters chanted "kill the bill" outside the Capitol and later swarmed through Congressional office buildings, said they did not yet have the necessary 218 confirmed supporters. But they said they were confident they would exceed that total in time for a landmark vote set for Saturday on the $1.1 trillion, 10-year health plan that many Democrats have sought for years.

The rally was also mentioned on a front-page promo, which carried the classic Times bias of Democrats vs. conservatives:

Readying for Health Care Vote

As House Democratic leaders worked furiously to secure the final votes for weekend approval of a sweeping health care overhaul, conservatives turned out to protest the measure.

David Herszenhorn’s blog post on the rally yesterday, on the "Prescriptions" blog, interviewed more average Americans – and he suggested they were not very diverse:

It’s a generally older crowd, many in their 50s and 60s, predominantly, white, and many self-identified as Christians. They are fiercely conservative and deeply skeptical of the government, many of them adamantly opposed to abortion rights.

He also suggested they’re just repeating Fox News mantras:

Mr. Hershberger, like many of the demonstrators, repeated some of the most common conservative and Republican talking points heard repeatedly on Fox News. "It’s not bipartisan," he said, standing outside the Capitol wearing a Texas Longhorns baseball cap. "They are doing it behind closed doors." He added: "It’s going to drive us into a super-deficit."

UPDATE: Appearing with and debating MRC President Brent Bozell on Friday morning's Fox & Friends, New York Times columnist Charles Blow insisted conservative rallies are being over-covered. Did he see today's newspaper?

The implication that this doesn’t get covered is ridiculous. Yesterday in the afternoon, when it was happening, it was the lead story on Fox News. It was the display story on NYTimes.com. It was the display story on MSNBC.com. It’s everywhere. You do a basic search, tea party search – thousands of hits on the New York Times just in the last 30 minutes, last 30 days alone. It’s everywhere. I think it gets more coverage than it needs – especially when it was organized by Michelle Bachmann, when every time she opens her mouth she makes Sarah Palin sound like the president of Mensa. The idea that we’re not covering this enough is ridiculous to me.

Blow exaggerated just a little that you'd get "thousands of hits" from the New York Times on tea parties. A quick Nexis search of the last 30 days finds a modest seven news stories,  editorials and book reviews mentioning (often disparaging) tea-party protests.