Fox & Friends' Carlson failed to disclose tea party organizer's GOP ties
Research ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN
During an interview with Atlanta tea party organizers Jenny Beth and Lee Martin on Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson did not point out that Jenny Beth Martin has been a paid Republican consultant.
During the April 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson interviewed Atlanta tea party organizers Jenny Beth and Lee Martin, saying to them at one point, "Now you characterize yourselves as everyday Americans." However, Carlson did not mention during the interview that Jenny Beth Martin has been a paid Republican consultant. During the interview, on-screen text identified Jenny Beth Martin simply as "Atlanta Tea Party co-chairman."
As Media Matters for America senior fellow Jamison Foser recently noted, USA Today reported on April 12 that Jenny Beth Martin is a "former paid consultant for local Republican candidates." Foser further noted that Martin's blog makes no mention of her having ceased her work for the GOP. Martin states on her blog, "Recently, I began getting paid for my political consulting services for the first time. From 1992 until July, 2007, I volunteered my time and services."
During the Fox & Friends interview, Jenny Beth and Lee Martin discussed their employment history, and Jenny Beth Martin noted, "I do a lot of blogging."
As Media Matters has noted, Fox News has aggressively encouraged participation in the tea parties, which the channel has often described as primarily a response to President Obama's fiscal policies. According to Fox News host Bill Hemmer, Fox News' new website, The Fox Nation, will "host a virtual tea party" for those who "[c]an't get to a tea party." Fox News has also repeatedly labeled the protests "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties."
From the April 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
CARLSON: OK, well, people are mad, and they aren't only sticking their heads out, they're gathering around the country in large numbers, organizing tea parties, and protesting government spending. Jenny Beth and Lee Martin are organizing a tea party in Atlanta. They're also involved with the national movement. Good morning to both of you.
JENNY BETH MARTIN: Good morning.
LEE MARTIN: Good morning.
CARLSON: Now you characterize yourselves as everyday Americans. What do you mean by that?
JENNY BETH MARTIN: We've been hit by the financial crisis and the recession, and we are like everyday Americans. We don't want our neighbors paying for our mortgage. We don't want excessive taxes, and we want fiscal responsibility with our tax dollars.
CARLSON: You don't want a government handout even though you lost your home in this recession?
JENNY BETH MARTIN: No, ma'am, we don't. We are willing to work hard, and we think that that's the responsible thing to do.
CARLSON: I would like you to explain to our viewers, because I'm inspired by your story, the both of you. And you lost your home, and then you --
LEE MARTIN: Yes, ma'am.
CARLSON: -- told your twin daughters, "Look, we're going to go on an adventure." And you have reinvented yourselves several times over just to find work, have you not? Explain to our viewers what you've done.
JENNY BETH MARTIN: Yes, we have. Lee, you should start.
LEE MARTIN: Well, first, we have a twin boy and girl, just in case they're watching.
CARLSON: OK. Sorry.
LEE MARTIN: And -- that's all right.
JENNY BETH MARTIN: That's OK.
LEE MARTIN: But, yeah, we owned a temporary staffing service, and after that failed, we decided to try to take up a few different things to try to make ends meet. We did some housekeeping, and we continue to do some of that. We also do computer repair and website design.
CARLSON: So --
JENNY BETH MARTIN: And blogging. I do a lot of blogging.
CARLSON: So a lot of people in your situation would say, "Oh, we'll just go to the government and get help." Instead you're looking at it a slightly different way, which is what in organizing these tea parties?
JENNY BETH MARTIN: Well, when we first heard [CNBC on-air editor] Rick Santelli's rant back in February, we were going in between houses that we were cleaning, and we had just lost our house, and we -- he -- it really spoke to us, because we felt like we would rather be cleaning our neighbors' houses than our neighbors paying for a mortgage we could no longer afford. And so, we decided we wanted to be involved in this movement, and that's how we got involved.
CARLSON: Did you ever believe it would pick up the steam that it has? Now we're talking about 500 cities tomorrow having these tea parties.
JENNY BETH MARTIN: Yeah, on February 20, on that first nationwide conference call, there were about 22 of us on the call, and when we hung up with that call, we thought the following Friday we'd have about five or six tea parties around the country. Instead, we had 48 tea parties all happening simultaneously on February 27. Now we're in the second wave, and it's actually over 700 tea parties now.
JENNY BETH MARTIN: And it's very close to 800.
CARLSON: Well, Jenny Beth and Lee Martin, good luck as you continue to get yourselves back on your feet. And we'll all be watching tomorrow to check out these tea parties. Thanks for joining us this morning.