Fox News' embedded reporter Jenkins cheerleads for anti-Dem Tea Party Express

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Despite his claim to be "simply reporting" on the Tea Party Express rallies, Fox News correspondent Griff Jenkins, who is traveling with the cross-country protest bus tour, has repeatedly expressed support for the protesters, who he has referred to as "the America that Washington forgot." Fox News has consistently promoted the Tea Party Express -- which is organized by a political action committee whose mission is to oppose President Obama and other Democrats -- as well as other "tea party" protests.

Jenkins claimed he is "just documenting" and "simply reporting" on Tea Party Express

From the September 1 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (host): Let me get this straight. Griff, so that the viewers understand it, you aren't on this bus; you're following and reporting about what's going on, right? Am I right on that? You're not on this bus.

JENKINS: That's correct. I'm not on the bus. I haven't been on the bus yet. I'm just documenting, following these people, because it's an interesting movement. It may be a movement that grows, and I want to document it and see as much as we can and to challenge it. But we are not on the bus. We are not a part of it. I am simply reporting on this. Although we might try and get at some point, perhaps tomorrow or later this week, an inside look of how the bus works and the players on it.

But Jenkins repeatedly ventures beyond objective reporting

"I've found one thing about the folks in Las Cruces, they seem to love their country, I think." During a report for On the Record, Jenkins stated of the Tea Party Express, "This is the ninth stop, the fifth day. And I've found one thing about the folks in Las Cruces, they seem to love their country, I think." Jenkins later added: "How many people are professional protesters? How many people are here for the first time? I don't know about you, Greta, but it seems like this groundswell is pretty darn legitimate, and these folks want their voices heard." [On the Record, 9/1/09]

"These are just some good Americans out here in Albuquerque who want to be heard from Washington." During a report for Fox News' Hannity, Jenkins stated, "These are just some good Americans out here in Albuquerque who want to be heard from Washington, isn't that right? I don't know about you, but Washington may want to be hearing. That's it from here, we're going to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and after that, Texas, here we come." Host Sean Hannity then stated that "Griff is having way too much fun." [Hannity, 9/1/09]

"[L]et me tell you who the star is. It's every one of these people. It's the America that Washington forgot about." After Van Susteren said that Jenkins is "a big celebrity now" among the protesters, Jenkins stated: "Greta, I appreciate you saying a silly thing there, that I'm a star. But let me tell you who the star is. It's every one of these people. It's the America that Washington forgot about. It's the America that Washington doesn't want to hear from. And, apparently, these folks want them to know they better start listening." [On the Record, 8/31/09]

"[T]his is the story of the America that Washington forgot and apparently doesn't want to hear from." In a report for Hannity, Jenkins asserted: "Sean, this is the story of the America that Washington forgot and apparently doesn't want to hear from. They're miners, they're small-business owners, they're veterans, they're nurses, they're mothers. And what you're hearing right here in Flagstaff has been going on all across the great American West." [Hannity, 8/31/09]

Tea Party Express: Organized by anti-Dem PAC with history of smearing Democrats

Tea Party Express' purpose is to "highlight some of the worst offenders in Congress." Our Country Deserves Better PAC's website states that the Tea Party Express "will host a series of tea party rallies all across the nation. ... At each stop the tour will highlight some of the worst offenders in Congress who have voted for higher spending, higher taxes, and government intervention in the lives of American families and businesses. These Members of Congress have infringed upon the freedom of the individual in this great nation, and its time for us to say: 'Enough is Enough!' " [TeaPartyExpress.org, accessed 9/2/09]

Tea Party Express' "Target[s]" -- since removed -- were all Democrats. OCDB's website previously contained a section -- at http://www.teapartyexpress.org/races/index.html -- titled, "Target Races," which stated that in "order for the Tea Party movement to truly have an impact, we must vote out of office those politicians who have betrayed their constituents by pushing through massive deficits, higher taxes and government intervention into the private sector and private lives of American families." All 30 targets listed as of July 28 were Democrats. The section of the website has been removed since Media Matters for America originally accessed and reviewed the section. [TeaPartyExpress.org, accessed 7/28/09]

OCDB formed by Republicans. OCDB PAC was reportedly "formed in August [2008] by California political consultant Sal Russo and former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian." [Associated Press, 10/16/08] As their OCDB biographies note, Russo is a veteran Republican consultant who worked in the Reagan White House, and Kaloogian served as a Republican in the California Assembly.

OCDB's mission is to oppose Obama and "Democratic Congress." On its "About Us" page, OCDB states that "we must stand up to Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress." The PAC also solicits contributions by stating, "Help us fight the Democratic Congress!"

In 2008, OCDB's sole objective was Obama's defeat. NPR reported on September 26, 2008, that OCDB's website then said "it has one objective: to defeat Obama." During the 2008 campaign, the PAC hosted "patriotic, pro-McCain/Palin rallies" to "Stop Obama."

OCDB's history of smears against Democrats. In 2008, OCDB produced ads and videos with such titles as "Obama's Wrong Values," "Obama: Not Faithful to Our Military," and "Obama's Patriotism Problem." One ad by the group compared Obama to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Fox News has relentlessly promoted Tea Party Express and other protests

Following years of attacks on progressive demonstrators, "Fair and balanced" Fox News aggressively promoted April "tea party" protests. Despite its repeated insistence that its coverage is "fair and balanced" and its invitation to viewers to "say 'no' to biased media," Fox News frequently aired segments encouraging viewers to get involved with "Tax Day tea party" protests across the country, which the channel described as primarily a response to Obama's fiscal policies. A review of Fox News' coverage of demonstrations prior to the April 15 tea parties found that the network did not offer similarly promotional coverage of anti-war protests or other demonstrations in support of progressive positions. Instead, the network's hosts, contributors, and guests often attacked participants in those protests.

Fox News' "straight" daytime news also promoted April protests. While Fox News executives' claimed "the channel plays it straight with its daytime news programming," during coverage of the tea party protests, daytime anchors, reporters, and guests repeatedly promoted and touted the events before and on April 15, often echoing participants' rhetoric. In their coverage of the April 15 protests, numerous other national and local media outlets noted that Fox News was a driving force behind the tea parties.

Fox News gave publicity to Republican governors' "Tea Party 2.0." Following Fox News' aggressive promotion of the April 15 "tea party" protests, Van Susteren did a May 13 segment on the "Tea Party 2.0," a public tele-conference hosted by the Republican Governors Association, and stated, "If you wanted to go to a tea party on April 15 but could not make it ... tomorrow's your big chance."

Fox News ran rampant promotions, live coverage of Tea Party Express. On August 28, Fox News devoted live coverage and publicity to the kickoff of the Tea Party Express. Fox News' kickoff coverage followed numerous promotions of the tour on Fox News, Fox Business, the Fox Nation, and FoxNews.com.

Transcripts

From the September 1 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they're angry about health care, angry about taxes, angry about the exploding size of our government, and they want government to get its nose out of their business. The Tea Party Express rolling on down the highway -- 35 cities in 16 days; final stop will be right here in Washington, D.C. But where are they tonight? Well, Griff Jenkins is with the Tea Party Express in Las Cruces, New Mexico -- Griff.

JENKINS: That's right, Greta. This is the ninth stop, the fifth day. And I've found one thing about the folks in Las Cruces, they seem to love their country, I think.

[...]

JENKINS: This is interesting, too, Greta. How many people are professional protesters? How many people are here for the first time? I don't know about you, Greta, but it seems like this groundswell is pretty darn legitimate, and these folks want their voices heard. And Mary is gonna be committed to be doing it all the way through next year -- Greta.

[...]

VAN SUSTEREN: What's your next -- what's the next destination of this bus?

JENKINS: After Las Cruces, we're headed -- we're about 40 miles north of the border. We're headed even closer to El Paso, Texas, tomorrow, all the way through Texas. Then we're headed to Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky. This train, bus, express goes all the way to Washington, as you know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me get this straight. Griff, so that the viewers understand it, you aren't on this bus; you're following and reporting about what's going on, right? Am I right on that? You're not on this bus.

JENKINS: That's correct. I'm not on the bus. I haven't been on the bus yet. I'm just documenting, following these people, because it's an interesting movement. It may be a movement that grows, and I want to document it and see as much as we can and to challenge it. But we are not on the bus. We are not a part of it. I am simply reporting on this. Although we might try and get at some point, perhaps tomorrow or later this week, an inside look of how the bus works and the players on it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I'd love to see -- I'd love to see you get a camera inside that bus, 'cause I'm sort of curious, you know, what they're talking about and doing inside that bus as well. But certainly we're getting an outside look at the bus, so we'll see you tomorrow night, Griff, and --

JENKINS: Well, I'll tell you what --

VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead.

JENKINS: I'll tell you what, Greta. I will get on that bus for you tomorrow. You'll get a report right here on that bus, behind the scenes, Tea Party Express.

From the September 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

MIKE WILLIAMS (radio host): It's better than what I thought. And the message we're carrying, and it better be heard, is that this is democracy in action, and that if our representatives won't fulfill their constitutional oaths to protect and invest the Constitution of this country, then the people will.

JENKINS: These are just some good Americans out here in Albuquerque who want to be heard from Washington, isn't that right? I don't know about you, but Washington may want to be hearing. That's it from here, we're going to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and after that, Texas, here we come.

HANNITY: All right, Griff is having way too much fun.

From the August 31 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

JENKINS: Greta, here in Flagstaff, they are small-business owners, they're miners, they're farmers. They want Washington -- can I ask you a question? Do you feel like Washington's listening to you?

That is the story. Now, Greta, an important thing you and I discussed earlier. We got an email to On the Record from a gentleman named David in Elko, part of that package we saw earlier -- beautiful place, gold mining country.

He said he's tired of being called, quote, "hicks," as people portray it. So all we're doing here -- we're trying let these folks let their voices be heard. Two buses rolled in here on the Tea Party Express. You've seen it. We've shown it since Friday. We're going to continue going to New Mexico tomorrow, to Albuquerque, to Las Cruces. It's going all the way. And I've talked to a handful of people going all the way to Washington, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Griff, yeah, I posted that email on Gretawire.com. But what you can't see there, but I'm going to show the viewers, is I got a picture emailed to me just a short time ago from someone named -- a woman named Denise Patterson, and it is a picture of you with Denise Patterson. She sent me the picture. And so the viewers -- they can see it right now. There's Griff and Denise Patterson in Las Vegas. So you are now on TV, Griff, in a picture. You're -- you know, you're a big celebrity now on the computer.

Anyway, Griff, how about any counter-protests?

JENKINS: You know, we saw a couple of people across the street showed up with a couple of signs that said, you know, "We want a public option," "Honk if you want a public option." They're just across the street. I'm not sure if they're still there. But this is -- "kill the bill," they're saying. This is a very peaceful crowd, and I think if there were people with opposite opinions, they would be received here, as well. We haven't seen any violence. We haven't seen any shouting.

And Greta, I appreciate you saying a silly thing there, that I'm a star. But let me tell you who the star is. It's every one of these people. It's the America that Washington forgot about. It's the America that Washington doesn't want to hear from. And, apparently, these folks want them to know they better start listening.

From the August 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Now thousands of ordinary Americans are taking part in what is known as the Tea Party Express. They are speaking out against government-run health care, out-of-control spending, and the rallies that started just last week in California will conclude in Washington on September the 12th.

And our very own Griff Jenkins has been on board the express from day one. And he joins me now from the site of tonight's rally, which is in Flagstaff, Arizona -- Griff.

JENKINS: Hey, Sean. I'm in Flagstaff, Arizona. A few thousand Americans got together today, Sean, and they decided to have a tea party. We've traveled over 1,200 miles since we left Sacramento on Friday. And we've gone through Nevada, through Reno, through Elko, through Elle. We come in here to Arizona.

Sean, this is the story of the America that Washington forgot and apparently doesn't want to hear from. They're miners, they're small-business owners, they're veterans, they're nurses, they're mothers. And what you're hearing right here in Flagstaff has been going on all across the great American West.

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Griff Jenkins
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