The Tea Party is now five years old. On Tax Day 2009, one CNN correspondent went off on Tea Party protesters. Here is the blog I posted on Newsbusters that day: April 15, 2009, about CNN's report from Chicago.

CNN is finally covering the tea parties - by attacking the participants. After anchor Anderson Cooper made an obscene sexual joke about attendees, CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen rudely interrupted one of the protestors and slammed the event for being "anti-government," "anti-CNN," and "not really family viewing."



Late last week, CNN announced its plan to team up with the Tea Party Express to co-sponsor a Republican presidential debate in September. While this creates the possibility that Republican candidates will actually face questions of interest to Republican primary voters (as opposed to the typical liberal media agenda), it’s also probably the first time a media organization will partner with a group that its on-air correspondents and commentators have trashed over the past two years.

CNN’s liberal commentators have been savage to the Tea Party. Back in 2009, longtime CNN house liberal Paul Begala slammed the Tea Party as “a bunch of wimpy, whiny, weasels who don’t love their country.” A couple of weeks before this year’s election, CNN’s 8pm ET co-host Eliot Spitzer said the Tea Party was “vapid” and leading America “down a dangerous road....They’re going to destroy our country.”

But CNN’s supposedly objective correspondents and anchors have showcased a similar hostility to the Tea Party, attacking them as racist, extremist, pawns of Fox News, or using the vulgar “tea-bagging” nickname favored by left-wing activists to disparage the group. A few of the choicer examples from the MRC’s archive (including video):



There is a scene in Hamlet when the prince tells Polonius (the Joe Biden of medieval Denmark) to look after the newly arrived theater troop, making sure they are "well used."

Polonius sniffs, "My lord, I will use them according to their desert."

"God's bodykins, man," snaps Hamlet, "much better: use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Obviously, Polonius and Hamlet weren't talking about the players' arid, sandy region. "Deserts," despite the old-style spelling meant their "just desserts" or what they were due. Old Polonius, a palace insider, was just reflecting polite society's disdain for actors during Shakespeare's time, telling Hamlet he'd put them up in a style befitting lowly itinerant entertainers. But Hamlet understood that, given the fallen nature of humanity, we need to treat everyone better than they deserve.

Every member of Shakespeare's audience, from a laborer to the queen herself, might have nodded in understanding at that line, accustomed as they were to the concept of original sin.



In what is generally being interpreted by most as a surprise move, CNN has recently decided to cover the Tea Party movement from an angle foreign to most in the main stream media - combating stereotypes that are heavily promoted by liberals. 

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...)



9/12 rally, Washington, DC, taken by the author, Matthew Balan | NewsBusters.orgCNN political producer Shannon Travis surprisingly acknowledged that the mainstream media has stereotyped the Tea Party movement in a Wednesday article on CNN.com: "When it comes to the Tea Party movement, the stereotypes don't tell the whole story." Travis continued by emphasizing positive aspects of the nascent grassroots movement and noting the presence of minorities.

The producer's article, simply titled "Reporter's notebook: What really happens at Tea Party rallies," recounted what he saw during five days of the Tea Party Express's convoy across the nation. He first summarized the slant often found in the media's coverage of the conservative protests: "Here's what you often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: offensive posters blasting President Obama and Democratic leaders; racist rhetoric spewed from what seems to be a largely white, male audience; and angry protesters rallying around the Constitution."

After recounting the alleged racial incidents against Representatives John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver, Travis contrasted the stereotype with what he actually observed: "But here's what you don't often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: Patriotic signs professing a love for country; mothers and fathers with their children; African-Americans proudly participating; and senior citizens bopping to a hip-hop rapper."


Ed Lavandera, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgOn Wednesday's American Morning, CNN's Ed Lavandera focused on the "overwhelmingly white" turnout at the rallies sponsored by the Tea Party Express organization and played up the criticisms that there is an "anti-minority undertone" at the demonstrations.

Lavandera, who is covering the Tea Party Express' cross-country tour, highlighted the race issue from the beginning of his report, which first aired 13 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour: "The crowds turning out for the Tea Party Express rallies are overwhelmingly white. Is this lack of diversity a problem for the Tea Party movement? We're taking a closer look."

The correspondent noted some of the apparently "subtle efforts to make the tea party appear diverse," such as a hip hop performance and speeches by black tea party activist Lloyd Marcus. Marcus stated that "there's not a lot of black folks here, basically, because they haven't seen the light yet. They are still hypnotized by the first black or African-American president. But they haven't really looked at the man and what he's doing." This assertion is supported by a Gallup poll from earlier in March that found that President Obama's approval rating among blacks is at 89%, down slightly from 96% in August 2009.



[Update, 5:24 pm Eastern: Audio and video clips from Acosta’s report added.]

CNN’s Jim Acosta continued his network’s bias against tea party protesters on Wednesday’s American Morning by depicting them as “recession raging,” and questioned one participant over her depiction of President Obama as the personification of death: “Do you think having the President dressed up as the Grim Reaper is a little over-the-top?” Acosta then asked, “You think it’s appropriate?” [audio clip available here]

The correspondent’s report on Wednesday was the first in a series titled “Welcome to the Tea Party.” During his presentation, which first aired 39 minutes into the 7 am hour, Acosta followed his network’s model of focusing on the negative depictions of President Obama at tea party gatherings and painting the protests in a negative light. Over 5 months earlier, his colleague Jim Spellman followed the cross-country caravan of the Tea Party Express organization before the massive 9/12 rally in 2009, and zeroed-in on the protesters who labeled the President a Nazi, brought firearms to rallies, or held “outlandish conspiracy theories.” He labeled all these “a dark undercurrent.” Much more infamously, former CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen took personal offensive at a depiction of the chief executive with a Hitler mustache, while three years earlier, she thought a similar portrayal of President Bush was “comic.”


Campbell Brown, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgCNN’s Campbell Brown was quick to point out the apparent biases of competitors MSNBC and Fox News during her program on Wednesday, but ignored that of her own network as she tried to portray it as unbiased: “Some of us, like my colleagues here at CNN, are still trying to do journalism....I’m not critical of what my friends at Fox News and MSNBC do, but it is apples and oranges when compared to what we at CNN do.”

Brown concluded the 8 pm Eastern hour with remarks initially directed against the Obama administration for its campaign against Fox News. The CNN anchor thought it was “silly” for the White House to go after the 24-hour news network: “I mean, really, the White House is only just now figuring out Fox in prime-time has a conservative bias? Really? I think our friends at Fox News have been pretty up-front about it, and frankly, pretty unapologetic, for that matter. What confuses me is that if the White House is really so concerned about bias in the media, then why are they only targeting Fox?


The last time we saw CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen, she was arguing with folks at the April 15 Tea Party in Chicago claiming the event was "anti-government, anti-CNN [and] highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox."

Although CNN officials won't blame the decision specifically on this event, the network has decided not to renew her contract.

All together now: Aaaaaawwww.

As reported by TVNewser Thursday:



NewsBusters.org | Media Research Center
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Lamestream Media
The media coverage of the more than 800 Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party protests that took place in all fifty states on April 15 ranged from disdainful dismissal of their nature, significance and import, to outright hostility towards the events and individual participants, to sexual innuendo-based full-on ridicule.

In this summary, we focused on the three major networks - NBC, ABC and CBS, the two left-of-center cable news networks - CNN and MSNBC and the three major "national" newspapers - the USA Today, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

While not an exhaustively comprehensive oeuvre of TEA Party bias, it contains many, many examples which serve to illustrate the broader antipathetic themes.

To wit:



Susan Roesgen, the hack who harassed tea party goers, was a driving force behind the flawed Jena 6 narrative that circulated the MSM cesspool back in 2007. The level of professionalism which made her famous on tax day has clearly been par for course in Roesgen's career. Patterico has uncovered the extent of her involvement pushing the absurd and reprehensible racially charged narrative:



In today's You've Got To Be Kidding Me moment, former CNN personality Frank Sesno scolded Fox News for its coverage of last week's Tea Parties while defending the disgraceful behavior of Keith Olbermann and Susan Roesgen.

This from a man who is now a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University.

Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources," this was Sesno's opinion of the Tea Party involvement of Fox News's Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck (file photo):