The far-right freak-out over Occupy Wall Street continues to unfold in plain view, as partisan in the conservative press lash out wildly at the populist movement. Unnerved by its growing size and strength, GOP pundits have tried their best to undermine the Wall Street effort, mostly via schoolyard taunts. When not name-calling, conservatives' have tried to rewrite the Tea Party past.
Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan argued Occupy Wall Street protesters aren't "mature" and reasonable like their conservative Tea Party counterparts. You know, the "mature" activists who protested fictional "death panels" and rallied with swastika posters. (Nice try Peggy.)
Now Media Research Center's Brent Bozell takes his turn rewriting Tea Party history. Specifically, he claims the press considered the Tea Party to be "barely worth covering" during the spring of 2009, and that the same press is giving way too much media attention to Occupy Wall Street. ("Barely worth covering"? In the months of April and May of 2009, cable news channels aired more than 150 Tea Party reports, according to Nexis, while U.S. newspapers published nearly 1,000 articles and columns mentioning the movement.)
There's no question that Occupy Wall Street has garnered heavy, and at time blockbuster, media coverage in recent days and weeks. And the attention is deserved, as the grassroots movement spreads nationwide and now boasts nearly 200 protest locations as part of its political network. (The movement is winning support from Americans too, according to pollsters.)
Bozell and the right-wing media's nervous response to the people-powered phenomena? They whine that reporters and pundits are lavishing too much attention on Occupy Wall Street, and that back in 2009 when the Tea Party movement first emerged, that same press corps ignored conservatives taking to the street.
Note that in his whine, Bozell's mum about the pivotal role Fox News played in the fledgling Tea Party and how the channel's free, unending advertising and marketing muscle helped to instantly elevate the right-wing movement. Bozell keeps quiet about that because it's awkward to argue the media ignored the Tea Party when in fact a major cable channel practically sponsored the Tea Party.
Bozell does however, acknowledge that CNBC reporter Rick Santelli gets credit for creating the Tea Party on the air with his infamous rant about the White House's mortgage bailout plan. (CNBC didn't promote subsequent Tea Party rallies, the way Fox News so aggressively did.)
Bozell complains that that key Tea Party moment was ignored [emphasis added]:
The first rhetorical shot that started the Tea Party is credited to CNBC analyst Rick Santelli on February 19, 2009, when he accused the government of "promoting bad behavior" for "losers" who wouldn't pay their mortgages and raised the possibility of a "Chicago Tea Party." CNBC calls it "The Shout Heard 'Round the World," but at the time NBC and the other Big Three network shows completely ignored it.
Bozell's certain: the Big Three networks all ignored Santelli's call to Tea Party arms.
Except that, of course, they did not.
Not only did NBC not ignore Santelli's rant the day it was uncorked on CNBC, but NBC made it the lead story on its Nightly News that evening. NBC News then returned to the topic again and again in the week that directly followed with nearly one dozen on-air reports from NBC, which couldn't stop talking about Rick Santelli's Tea Party rant.
(For the record, ABC and CBS also covered Santelli's harangue that week.)
But today, spooked by Occupy Wall Street, conservative press cop Brent Bozell fabricates the claim that NBC "completely ignored" the Rick Santelli Tea Party story.
Hey Brent, stop trying to rewrite the Tea Party past.