E.J. Dionne has a good column in the Washington Post today (4/19/10) looking at the Tea Party movement, and pinning a fair amount of blame on the press: “The news media’s incessant focus on the Tea Party is creating a badly distorted picture of what most Americans think and is warping our policy debates.” Looking at the most recent poll of Tea Party supporters, Dionne concludes that racism is clearly a factor in motivating many of these activists.
And he makes this point:
This must be the first “populist” movement driven by a television network: Sixty-three percent of the Tea Party folks say they most watch Fox News “for information about politics and current events,” compared with 23 percent of the country as a whole.
The right-wing fifth of America deserves news coverage like everyone else, and Fox is perfectly free to pander to its viewers. What makes no sense is allowing a sliver of opinion to dominate the media and distort our political discourse.