Fox News anchors lash out at CNN reporter who said network "highly promoted" tea parties

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Gregg Jarrett said of a report at a tea party by CNN's Susan Roesgen: "[S]he took a swipe at Fox News saying, well, we contrived the whole thing, which is, of course, preposterous." In fact, Roesgen did not say Fox News "contrived the whole thing"; she said the network "highly promoted" the protests.

During the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, co-hosts Gregg Jarrett and Martha MacCallum defended their network's coverage of the April 15 tea party protests by distorting CNN reporter Susan Roesgen's remark that Fox News "highly promoted" the protests. After playing a part of Roesgen's CNN Newsroom report, in which she interviewed protesters, MacCallum said that Roesgen "went on to say that it was an anti-CNN crowd. She also took a slam at this network in the process." Jarrett, as part of his response, said that "she took a swipe at Fox News saying, well, we contrived the whole thing, which is, of course, preposterous, and she clearly has to know that -- I would hope." MacCallum replied: "Hard to take credit for all those people painting -- hand-painting their own signs and showing up. It's hard to engineer something like that. But we did cover it, and it was very interesting." In fact, Roesgen did not say that Fox "contrived the whole thing," as Jarrett claimed. Rather, in a part of her report that The Live Desk did not air -- but MacCallum and Jarrett purported to summarize -- Roesgen stated of the protests: "It's anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox." Indeed, Fox News has aggressively promoted the tea parties, which it has labeled "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties," in dozens of instances. Fox News business contributor and substitute host Stuart Varney even said on the April 13 edition of Fox News' Your World, "It's now my great duty to promote the tea parties. Here we go!"

In an April 15 Politico article, Michael Calderone reported that Fox News "declined repeated offers to address the charge that it was blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy." From Calderone's article:

Nobody's covering the tea parties quite like Fox -- and that's prompting critics and cable news competitors to say that the network is blurring the line between journalism and advocacy.

"Fox appears to be promoting these events at the same time it is presenting them in a way that looks like reporting," said Stephen Burgard, director of Northeastern University's School of Journalism.

Burgard called the practice "pseudo-journalism," adding: "We have seen this before from Fox News Channel, but its role as galvanizer of opposition to President Obama's policies and leadership posture appears to be emerging."

A Fox spokesperson said the network did not have an executive available to speak about its tea party coverage. A second Fox representative declined repeated offers to address the charge that it was blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy.

CNN and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz said of Fox News: "I don't think I've ever seen a news network throw its weight behind a protest like we are seeing in the past few weeks with Fox and these tea parties."

From the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk:

MacCALLUM: You know, yesterday, right around this time, we were watching -- we always see all the screens of all the different coverage on the other networks, and CNN was covering the tea parties yesterday. Check out this exchange between CNN's Susan Roegsen [sic] and a protester in Chicago. Take a look.

[begin video clip]

ROESGEN: OK, let's see. You're here with your 2-year-old, and you're already in debt. Why are you here today, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Because I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln's primary thing was he believed that people had the right to liberty and they had the right --

ROESGEN: Sir, what does this have to do with taxes?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hold on.

ROESGEN: What does this have to do with your taxes?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hold on, let me finish speaking.

ROESGEN: Do you realize --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let me finish speaking.

ROESGEN: -- that you're eligible for a $400 credit?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let me finish my point. Lincoln believed that people had the right to share in the fruits of their own labor and that government should not take it. And we have clearly gotten to that point.

ROESGEN: Wait. Wait.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I will tell you what it means [inaudible]

ROESGEN: Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets $50 billion out of these stimulus? That's $50 billion for this state, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ma'am, ma'am, ma'am, ma'am, I --

[end video clip]

MacCALLUM: All right. She went on to say that it was an anti-CNN crowd. She also took a slam at this network in the process. And, you know, I think what the people were responding to there was that she wasn't letting him answer the question.

JARRETT: Right.

MacCALLUM: They could hear what he was saying, and they wanted her to be able to let him finish his thought about Lincoln and about taxes and the meaning of government in our country. So -- interesting.

JARRETT: Well, I suppose it's OK to challenge somebody. It was sort of the tone in the way she went about it I think troubled some people. And then she took a swipe at Fox News saying, well, we contrived the whole thing, which is, of course, preposterous, and she clearly has to know that -- I would hope.

MacCALLUM: Yeah, interesting. All right. OK. Hard to take credit for all those people painting -- hand-painting their own signs and showing up.

JARRETT: Yeah.

MacCALLUM: It's hard to engineer something like that. But we did cover it, and it was very interesting. We're going to have more on it coming up.

From the 2 p.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom on April 15:

ROESGEN: Wait.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I will tell you what it means [inaudible]

ROESGEN: Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets $50 billion out of these stimulus? That's $50 billion for this state, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ma'am, ma'am, ma'am, ma'am, I --

SECOND MAN: Sir, sir, sir, sir, sir, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Can you stop this, sir?

SECOND MAN: I need to talk to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hold on, hold on.

ROESGEN: OK. Well, Kyra [Phillips, anchor], we'll move on over here.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ma'am, ma'am, I'd like to [inaudible]

ROESGEN: I think you get the general tenor of this. It's anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox. And since I can't really hear much more and I think this is not really family viewing -- toss it back to you, Kyra.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Martha MacCallum, Gregg Jarrett
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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