Politico's Michael Calderone reports:
Nobody's covering the tea parties quite like Fox - and that's prompting critics and cable news competitors to say that the network is blurring the line between journalism and advocacy.
"Fox appears to be promoting these events at the same time it is presenting them in a way that looks like reporting," said Stephen Burgard, director of Northeastern University's School of Journalism.
Burgard called the practice "pseudo-journalism," adding: "We have seen this before from Fox News Channel, but its role as galvanizer of opposition to President Obama's policies and leadership posture appears to be emerging."
A Fox spokesperson said the network did not have an executive available to speak about its tea party coverage. A second Fox representative declined repeated offers to address the charge that it was blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy.
While tea party organizers say their movement is nonpartisan, the protests lean hard to the right: Newt Gingrich and Michelle Malkin are on board, as is Freedom Works, an organization run by former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey. And more than a dozen prominent Republicans were set to participate in tea party protests Wednesday, including South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and a slew of other Republicans from Congress.
Marc Ambinder, writing "In Defense Of The Tax-Day Tea Parties":
Their origins -- organic, programmatic, accidental or otherwise -- don't matter much anymore. If -- and we'll have to see the numbers at the end of the day -- 100,000 Americans show up to protest their taxes, the onus to dismiss them as a nascent political force shifts to the Democrats.
Really? 100,000 people showing up for nationwide protests doesn't seem all that impressive. It's 2,000 people per state.
If that's the turnout for these protests, I don't see how there's any onus on anyone to say anything other than "Meh." Or, perhaps, to offer a Nelson Muntz-style "Ha-ha" while pointing at Fox News.
Bill O'Reilly on Fox News this afternoon, discussing the possibility of a Spanish court indicting Bush administration officials:
"Basically, we're gearing up for a boycott of Spain. And if they do it, we're going to ask people not to travel to that country or buy their goods."
O'Reilly has a history of calling for boycotts of European countries, and of inventing evidence that those boycotts were successful.
You remember. Last week when Beck pretended to be Barack Obama and was pouring gasoline on the "average American" and then thought about lighting the match. When the Fox News host suggested it might just be faster if he were shot "in the head," rather than watch Obama ruin America. When Beck yelled and screamed and denounced Obama for literally destroying the country.
That's what AP, in its puff piece on Beck, calls "undeniably entertaining television."
Good to know.
Why do "tea party" cheerleaders in the media, like Malkin and Glenn Reynolds, insist on playing dumb about Fox News' role in the "grassroots" movement? Are they ashamed that Murdoch's outlet has showered today's anti-Obama rallies with millions of dollars in free advertising/promotion? Are they embarrassed that the "tea parties" are now synonymous with Glenn Beck? Are they ashamed that Fox News has hijacked the events?
I honestly don't understand why Malkin and co. refuse to be upfront about the cable news channel's central involvement. Is Michelle Malkin embarrassed by Fox News?
Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga looked at the news sources Daily Kos front-page posts over the past week have relied upon for information:
Out of curiosity, I decided to see where the news we discuss on this site came from the past week, from Monday, April 6, to Sunday, April 12. If we linked to a source that got its information from another site, we followed the links until we got to the original source of the reporting ("secondary" source). In other words, I wanted to categorize the original source of information for every (front page) post on the site. Here's the results of that link inventory:
AP and other Wire: 5 secondary
That compares to 102 primary and 21 secondary for newspapers, leading Kos to conclude:
While newspapers were the most common source of information, they accounted for just 123 out of 628 total original information sources, or just shy of 20 percent.
Again, this doesn't mean I'm gleefull or happy or even neutral on the sorry state of the newspaper industry and the demise of so many great newspapers. It's always sad to lose a good source of journalism. But we live in a rich media environment, easily the richest in world history, and the demise of the newspaper industry will simply shift much of the journalistic work they did to other media.
On the other hand, I will be gleeful when the AP goes out of business. I'm actually shocked at how little we depend on those jerks.
Personally, I don't find the AP to be completely useless. But much of what they do is stenography of the sort Washington Post reporter Paul Kane recently advocated. Nobody needs the AP (or the Washington Post, or any other Establishment media outlet) to simply type up and print things politicians say; politicians have websites and issue press releases.
Another huge chunk of the AP's output consists of nonsense like this (unsuccessful) attempted "gotcha." Again: nobody needs that. As I wrote the other day: "Maybe the AP should spend a little less time worrying about who is quoting their work, and a little more time ensuring their work is worth quoting."
Newsbusters' Noel Shepard is upset about the DHS report on right-wing extremism and can't figure out "why the Pittsburgh cop killings were used as an example of a potential rise in violence associated with rightwing extremism when it was a domestic dispute between a mother and son which flared out of control."
I'm guessing it was because the killer, Richard Poplawski, was a right-wing nut who thought the government was going to take away his guns and got his news from a conspiracy website run by Alex Jones. And because he was stockpiling food and weapons prior to the shootings. And because he was worried about "the elite Jewish powers that be" engineering the country's economic collapse in order to "make for a power and asset grab" and worried about a "Zionist occupation." Maybe all of that has something to do with it.
Meanwhile, Shepard's portrayal of the killings as "a domestic dispute between a mother and son which flared out of control" is pretty misleading; it suggests that the police officers walked in on the "dispute" and Poplawski shot them in the heat of the moment. That isn't what happened. Poplawski knew the police were coming, took the time to put on a bulletproof vest and to arm himself with an assault rifle, a pistol, and "a significant amount of ammunition." Then he waited to ambush the police officers who responded to Poplowski's mother's call for help.
That's what Noel Shepard describes as a "domestic dispute" that "flared out of control."
FNC reporter Griff Jenkins just interviewed people at the Washington, D.C., "tea party," including one gentleman who explained that he was attending the protest because "any president of the United States, first prerequisite should be a business owner. If he doesn't know how to run a business, how can he run our country?"
That would have been a good time for Jenkins to ask the protester if he thought the last business owner to become president ran our country well. That's what a journalist would have done -- but, of course, Fox reporters at these events are not there as journalists. They are there as MCs.
It's like a hobby for him.
Earlier this week, Reynolds hyped the "tea parties" in the NYPost with a gosh-golly look at how "grassroots" it all was. Except Reynolds forgot to mention the fact that Fox News, that "grassroots" media behemoth, was pretty much co-sponsoring the anti-Obama events.
Today, Glenn's back. This time in the WSJ. And yes, Glenn's pretending the tea parties are completely bottom-up events. They're just "ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize."
Today American taxpayers in more than 300 locations in all 50 states will hold rallies -- dubbed "tea parties" -- to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending. There is no political party behind these rallies, no grand right-wing conspiracy, not even a 501(c) group like MoveOn.org.
See, Fox News doesn't exist in the world of anti-Obama tea parties. It's not providing the events with priceless, free promotion. It's not branding them, and it's not hyping them. Fox News has nothing to do with the tea parties.
Except that it does.