In reporting on tea parties, CNN, MSNBC hosts target Fox News

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

In reporting on the tea party protests, MSNBC and CNN hosts have targeted Fox News for criticism over its aggressive promotion of the upcoming events.

In recent days, MSNBC and CNN hosts have criticized Fox News' aggressive promotion of April 15 tea party protests -- in some instances questioning the journalistic credibility of the network for its coverage of the protests. As Media Matters for America has documented, Fox News has frequently aired segments encouraging viewers to get involved with tea party protests across the country, which the channel has often described as primarily a response to President Obama's fiscal policies. Indeed, Fox News has gone so far as to take ownership of the tea party events by repeatedly describing them as "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." On April 15, four of the network's hosts will be broadcasting live from various tea party protests across the country. While Fox News has asked whether the media will give "positive coverage" to the tea parties, others in the media are now questioning Fox News' involvement with those protests.

For instance:

  • During the April 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, media critic and Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz asserted that Fox News "practically seems to be a co-sponsor" of the tea party protests. Kurtz pointed out that Fox News contributors Newt Gingrich and Michelle Malkin are supporting the protests and noted that "Fox News, whose new online slogan is 'Just say no to biased media,' began publicizing the protests. And, soon, some hosts were signing on." Kurtz later added that "[t]hese hosts said little or nothing about the huge deficits run up by President Bush, but Barack Obama's budget and tax plans have driven them to tea," and said that, while Fox News hosts Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity "and the gang" are "paid for their opinions," "[t]he question is whether Rupert Murdoch's network wants to be so closely identified with what has become an anti-Obama protest movement."
  • After airing a Fox News promotion of its upcoming "fair and balanced" coverage of the tea parties, Chris Matthews stated during the April 13 edition of MSNBC's Hardball: "I have got to believe that [Fox News president] Roger Ailes has the biggest tongue in his cheek when he does these ads. 'We report. You decide.' I mean, what are you -- balanced coverage of an anti-government rally, an anti-tax rally -- balanced coverage of that, it's so amazing."
  • On the April 13 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, guest host David Shuster described the tea parties as a "movement that's short on outrage and long on Republican manufacturing" and reported: "Then there is the media, specifically the Fox News Channel, including Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Both are looking forward to an up-close-and-personal taste" of the tea parties "at events this Wednesday." Shuster also noted that Fox News host Neil Cavuto had been "defending his network's promotion" of the events. Later in the segment, MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell said of Fox News' involvement with the event: "What they're trying to do is create gigantic television events for their shows on that day. They have to pretend that they are covering a news event rather than trying to create one, which they've very clearly done when you look at the history of -- in the last month of the Fox News discussion of this, and how they've built it up."
  • On the April 9 edition of her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow stated that "our colleagues at Fox News are not just reporting on" the tea party protests, "they are officially promoting" them. After airing a clip of Beck asserting that you can "celebrate with Fox News" at the tea parties its hosts will be attending, Maddow noted that "Fox News Channel has described the Tax Day events on-screen as 'FNC Tax Day Tea Parties,' and they are dispatching some of their hosts to take part in" the events.
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