Jun
01
2010

SoundBites

Tea Parties Can’t Fail

Describing the anti-tax Tea Party rallies on April 15, Washington Post writers Amy Gardner and Michael Ruane (4/16/10) wrote, “The showing, while smaller than the crowds that gathered in Washington on September 12, made clear that the ire and energy that have defined the tea party movement since it became a force last summer have not abated.” Funny, you would think that smaller crowds would be a sign that the “ire and energy” of the Tea Party movement have abated. Isn’t that what “abated” means?

Stupid, Racist = Republican?

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly (O’Reilly Factor, 4/5/10) had a bone to pick with how the “left-wing media” have represented the Tea Party movement. First, he complained, “Tea Party folks were labeled stupid, too dumb to understand complicated issues.” Then the media said that “many Tea Party people are racist and far-right cranks.”

O’Reilly then refuted these charges by citing a poll (FAIR Blog, 4/6/10) that suggested that “the majority of Tea Party supporters in America are not Republicans.”

Shouldn’t Republicans be offended by O’Reilly’s logic here?

Glenn Beck vs. Grandma

Fox News host Glenn Beck (4/13/10), calling Social Security “not an American idea” and linking it to Marx and Nietzsche, came out against high-living grandmothers:

When FDR signed that Social Security bill, it wasn’t designed to subsidize a cushy retirement, so seniors could jet set all across the globe on vacations. Social Security was meant as insurance....Too many people rely and count on Social Security funding their weekly shuffleboard tournaments. You should have saved!

Fox’s audience, as with cable news in general, is fairly old—Variety (9/1/09) reported that its viewers’ median age is 64 (versus 62 for CNN, and 59 for MSNBC). One has to wonder how these folks feel about being painted as a bunch of current or near-future freeloaders.

Sarah Palin’s ‘Vast Swaths’

New York Times media reporter David Carr (4/5/10) wrote of former Gov. Sarah Palin:

Ms. Palin may or may not be qualified to represent America around the world, but she certainly represents vast swaths of the American public and has a lucrative new career to show for it.

If we don’t see why, then maybe we deserve the “lame-stream media” label she likes to give us.

Palin got a favorable rating of 37 percent in the most recent poll (Washington Post, 3/23-26/10), versus 55 percent unfavorable. By contrast, Hillary Clinton’s latest poll figures (AP/GfK, 3/3-8/10) were 66 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable. But when’s the last time you heard corporate media claiming that Clinton “certainly represents vast swaths of the American public”?

Labor’s Lost on Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh (4/9/10) fingered the culprit in the deaths of 29 workers at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia: the miners union. “Where was the union?” Limbaugh asked. “The union is generally holding these companies up demanding all kinds of safety. Why were these miners continuing to work in what apparently was an unsafe atmosphere?”

When the radio host was later told (Think Progress, 4/13/10) that the Upper Big Branch mine, owned by notorious union-buster Massey, was a non-union facility, he doubled down, saying (4/15/10) that 85 union coal miners won a decision against Massey and were re-hired. “So there were union workers there, and so the United Mine Workers should have been overseeing their safety.... You people, it’s been 21 years. At some point you are going to learn: If you go up against me on a challenge of fact, you are going to be wrong. It’s just that simple.”

Actually, it’s kind of complicated: 1) Some workers belonging to a union is not the same thing as having a recognized union that can enforce safety regulations. 2) The union members who won that ruling work at Cannelton, an entirely different mine owned by Massey. 3) Massey has appealed the ruling, so even those workers aren’t back on the job yet (AFL-CIO Blog, 4/16/10). After 16 years of factchecking Limbaugh (starting in Extra!, 7-8/94), this is the standard of accuracy we’ve learned to expect.

Ted Koppel’s Good Old Days

Appearing on the BBC (4/12/10) to talk about a new survey of journalists, former Nightline host Ted Koppel lamented: “I think we’re living through the—I hope—final stages of what I like to call the age of entitlement....We now feel entitled not to have the news that we need but the news that we want. We want to listen to news that comes from those who already sympathize with our particular point of view.”

It’s true; we do like news that at least includes our point of view, as opposed to news that mainly features people sympathetic to Ted Koppel’s point of view—people like Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Elliott Abrams and Jerry Falwell, the top four guests found in FAIR’s study of Nightline (Extra!, 1-2/89). We want news that isn’t 96 percent white and 90 percent male (Extra!, 5/21/90). We also prefer news that doesn’t spend half the time talking about O.J. Simpson (Extra!, 5-6/95). In short, we’d choose the news we think we need over the news Ted Koppel thinks we need.