Fox News has relentlessly promoted the Tea Party Express, a tea party organization founded by a Republican consulting firm, and has denied the existence of racist elements among tea party supporters. On July 18, the National Tea Party Federation announced that the Tea Party Express had been expelled from the federation in the wake of racially incendiary comments by its spokesperson.
National federation expels Express following spokesman's "clearly offensive" remarks
In fake letter from NAACP, Tea Party Express' Williams calls Lincoln "greatest racist ever" for depriving African Americans of "great gig" of slavery. In a since-deleted July 14 post to his blog, Tea Party Express spokesperson Mark Williams authored a "newly discovered letter" from NAACP president "Precious Ben Jealous" to President Abraham Lincoln. The letter came in response to an NAACP resolution repudiating "racist elements" within the Tea Party movement. In the letter, "Jealous" writes to Lincoln:
We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!
And the ridiculous idea of "reduce[ing] the size and intrusiveness of government." What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life? As Coloreds we must have somebody care for us otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!
Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.
Williams' letter was only the latest in a long line of racially incendiary comments by Williams.
National Tea Party Federation expels Tea Party Express in response to Williams' letter. In a July 18 appearance on CBS News' Face the Nation, National Tea Party Federation spokesman David Webb said, "We, in the last 24 hours, have expelled Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the National Tea Party Federation because of the letter that he wrote." Webb said that Williams "may have considered" the letter "satire," but it was "clearly offensive." According to its website, the federation consists of "85 member and affiliate organizations representing over 1,000,000 individuals and activists."
Fox News relentlessly promoted the first Tea Party Express bus tour
Fox Nation: "Will you join the Tea Party Express?" On July 28, 2009, Fox Nation posted a promotional ad for the Tea Party Express using the headline, "Will You Join the Tea Party Express?" From The Fox Nation:
Fox & Friends tells viewers "how you can join" Tea Party Express. The August 19, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends hosted Williams to explain, in co-host Brian Kilmeade's words, "how you can join" their then-upcoming first national bus tour. During the segment, Fox News aired graphics noting the dates and locations of 22 tour stops.
Fox News anchor Bream: "We want to let folks know" Tea Party schedule so "they can be a part" of events. The August 23, 2009, edition of Fox News' America's News HQ hosted Williams to promote the tour. During the segment, host Shannon Bream said of the tour's schedule:
BREAM: You do have a bit of a cohesive, at least organized schedule -- we want to let folks know you're going to be making --
BREAM: -- 34, 35 stops, I believe it is, all across the country, so if they want to come out and take part, they certainly can be a part of what you're doing, and, you know, this has definitely struck a chord with people.
" 'Hannity' Hops the Tea Party Express!" In an August 27, 2009, post on Sean Hannity's FoxNews.com blog, a producer wrote that Hannity "will be along for the ride!" adding: "Click here for more on the tour and to find the tea party nearest you." From the post, titled, " 'Hannity' Hops the Tea Party Express!":
Starting tomorrow, the Tea Party Express will begin its 16-day, 35-city tour across the nation, rallying Americans to stand up against out-of-control government spending... and 'Hannity' will be along for the ride!
With video camera in hand, our own Griff Jenkins will be catching all the action on the road and filing reports for The Great American Blog as the Express makes its way from Sacramento, CA to the Taxpayer March on Washington, D.C. Sept. 12!
Click here for more on the tour and to find the tea party nearest you.
And make sure to check back starting tomorrow to follow Griff on the road!
Hannity's post was celebrated on the Tea Party Express blog in an August 27, 2009, entry titled "Sean Hannity blogs about the Tea Party Express!"
Fox's Business' Cavuto hosts Williams to promote tea parties. During the August 27, 2009, edition of Fox Business' Cavuto, host Neil Cavuto promoted the tour and interviewed Williams. During the segment, Fox Business ran a graphic map of the tour's path through the country and posted the tour's website address.
Fox News reports live from first Tea Party Express kickoff
On August 28, 2009, Fox News dispatched reporter William La Jeunesse to the Tea Party Express kickoff in Sacramento. Between 8 a.m. and noon ET, La Jeunesse filed two live reports for Fox News and one for Fox Business.
La Jeunesse: "Hopefully Washington will listen to their concerns." During the August 28 edition of Fox & Friends, La Jeunesse reported live from Sacramento on the kickoff of the Tea Party Express. At the conclusion of his report, La Jeunesse said of the tour's concerns: "[T]hey believe, collectively, that they at least have a voice, and hopefully Washington will listen to their concerns."
La Jeunesse interviews Mark Williams on whether group is "Astroturf." During the August 28 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, La Jeunesse interviewed Williams. La Jeunesse asked Williams, "critics like Speaker Pelosi say this is Astroturf, that basically Republican operatives like yourself are organizing this with one goal in mind, to unseat Democrats." Williams responded:
WILLIAMS: Well, the Republican Party right now is in a coma. I wish they were helping. I wish they had the capability to help with something like this. No, this is democracy. These are working stiff, taxpaying citizens, who are being abused horribly by their government. You will see that here today in Sacramento where the emphasis will be on the Central Valley and water rights and such, so you'll be seeing guys taking breaks from their fields to come here.
La Jeunesse also reported live from the kickoff for the 11 a.m. ET hour of Fox Business.
"Tea Party groupie" Griff Jenkins embedded with first Tea Party Express tour
Fox News correspondent Griff Jenkins travelled with the first Tea Party Express bus tour, purporting to "document it and see as much as we can and to challenge it." However, Jenkins frequently expressed support for the movement and its members.
Hannity: Griff Jenkins at "every single place" along the Tea Party Express tour. On the August 27, 2009, edition of Fox News' Hannity, Sean Hannity said:
HANNITY: And now, starting this weekend, by the way, the Tea Party Express tour kicks off, where Americans from all over the country are going to hit the streets to voice their grievances over government spending and, of course, universal government health care. And our own Griff Jenkins is going to stop every single place, and he's starting this weekend and he's going to be checking in and giving us an update and blogging with the latest video on our Great, Great American Blog, and we'll also be checking in with him in our -- all throughout the next week, so that's coming up.
"It seems like this groundswell is pretty darn legitimate." During a report for Fox News' On the Record, Jenkins stated of the Tea Party Express, "This is the ninth stop, the fifth day. And I've found one thing about the folks in Las Cruces, they seem to love their country, I think." Jenkins later added: "How many people are professional protesters? How many people are here for the first time? I don't know about you, Greta [Van Susteren, host], but it seems like this groundswell is pretty darn legitimate, and these folks want their voices heard." [On the Record, 9/1/09]
"These are just some good Americans out here in Albuquerque who want to be heard from Washington." During a report for Hannity, Jenkins stated, "These are just some good Americans out here in Albuquerque who want to be heard from Washington, isn't that right? I don't know about you, but Washington may want to be hearing. That's it from here, we're going to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and after that, Texas, here we come." Sean Hannity then stated that "Griff is having way too much fun." [Hannity, 9/1/09]
"[L]et me tell you who the star is. It's every one of these people. It's the America that Washington forgot about." After Van Susteren said that Jenkins is "a big celebrity now" among the protesters, Jenkins stated: "Greta, I appreciate you saying a silly thing there, that I'm a star. But let me tell you who the star is. It's every one of these people. It's the America that Washington forgot about. It's the America that Washington doesn't want to hear from. And, apparently, these folks want them to know they better start listening." [On the Record, 8/31/09]
"[T]his is the story of the America that Washington forgot and apparently doesn't want to hear from." In a report for Hannity, Jenkins asserted: "Sean, this is the story of the America that Washington forgot and apparently doesn't want to hear from. They're miners, they're small-business owners, they're veterans, they're nurses, they're mothers. And what you're hearing right here in Flagstaff has been going on all across the great American West." [Hannity, 8/31/09]
Fox's Briggs on Jenkins: "You might call him a Tea Party groupie." On the September 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Dave Briggs introduced correspondent Griff Jenkins as "a Tea Party groupie." In the following report, Jenkins referred to the Tea Party Express as the representation of "an America that Washington forgot about."
Fox hops back on the bus for Tea Party Express II
Fox Nation: "Will You Join the Tea Party Express II?" On October 13, 2009, The Fox Nation promoted the tea Party Express II with two separate posts.
From the Fox Nation homepage:
Fox & Friends Sunday hosted Williams to promote the "Bigger & Better" Tea Party Express II. On the October 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Sunday, co-host Dave Briggs described the Tea Party Express by saying that "the bus tour that took the country by storm is back by popular demand." The show hosted Williams and the composer of the Tea Party's anthem Lloyd Marcus to promote the second Tea Party Express tour. The on-screen text during the segment highlighted the new tour as "Bigger & Better."
Doocy highlights "major grassroots support" of the Tea Party Express II tour. On the November 12 edition of Fox & Friends, Mark Williams appeared on the show to discuss the conclusion of the Tea Party Express II tour. Co-host Gretchen Carlson noted that the tour "focused on small town U.S.A.," while Steve Doocy lauded the tour for its "major grassroots support."
Fox News asks if Tea Party Express III is "Conservative Woodstock," provides keynote speaker
Fox provides unending coverage of Tea Party Express III kick-off rally. Fox News provided all-day coverage of the March 27 kick-off rally for the Tea Party Express III bus tour, with the network's hosts and on-site reporter Casey Stegall frequently praising the rally's participants. For example, Fox & Friends Saturday, co-host Clayton Morris previewed the network's coverage by saying it was a "huge day for the tea party... they're firing up, filling up the tanks with gas, 23 states getting ready to rumble," Neil Cavuto said of the activists, "God bless these folks," and Stegall said that there is "a real energy that you feel from the people who are out here."
Fox News asks if rally is "Conservative Woodstock." Shannon Bream opened the noon ET hour of America's News HQ by stating of the Tea Party Express' March 27 rally, "Organizers are hoping it will be a conservative Woodstock as thousands of tea party activists converge on Harry Reid's small town of Searchlight, Nevada." Bream also aired the following graphic:
Fox promotes, lauds "rock star" Fox employee Palin's keynote address. Sarah Palin -- a Fox News contributor -- was the event's keynote speaker. After Fox's anchors repeatedly promoted her speech, Fox News aired it live in its entirety. Stegall subsequently lauded the address, calling Palin "the rock star here" and saying that Palin was "no doubt very, very big, she was the big draw of this event."
Fox & Friends' Kilmeade: Tea Party Express "having a major effect" on midterm elections." On the April 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, following a report on the Tea Party Express III rally in Boston, co-host Biran Kilmeade suggested that the Tea Party Express is "already having a major effect" on the midterm elections. From the show:
KILMEADE: In a sense the tea party comes full circle, and it's happening today. Returning to the birthplace of the concept, Boston. Meanwhile, Caroline Shively live in D.C. with the latest. It's 1773 all over again, right, Caroline?
SHIVELY: All over again, Brian. The Tea Party Express is going back to where they started this in 1773, just across town from the Boston Harbor. They're expecting about 10,000 people three hours from now. One of the keynote speakers is Sarah Palin who also whipped up the crowd in Nevada on the first day of their 47 city cross country tour. The idea is the same from the Boston Tea Party, too, 237 years ago, that they're being taxed by a government they feel they have no say in.
Now the last stop on the 20 city tour is here in D.C. tomorrow on tax day. Here's a look at the last tea party event. Now they appear to be going into the day with some momentum. Earlier this month, they targeted Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak in Michigan because of his vote for health care, and a few days later, he announced his retirement. While they're in DC tomorrow, the Tea Party Express is also going to announce the candidates it's supporting and going after. If the Stupak race is any indication, it could have a major effect on the midterm elections. Eric, Gretchen, and Brian, back to you.
KILMEADE: Absolutely, they're already having a major effect, I think.
Special Report declares Tea Party Express protest the "21st century version" of the Boston Tea Party. On the April 14 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier led in to a report on the Tea Party Express's rally in Boston by claiming that the groups' event was the "21st century version" of the Boston Tea Party.
Tea Party Express praises coverage it received on Fox
The Tea Party Express used Fox Nation's promotion of its video in a July 2009 fundraising email. From a July 29, 2009 email sent from the Our Country Deserves Better PAC:
Tea Party Express praised "great television news coverage" from Fox News. In a November 15, 2009, email to supporters, the Tea Party Express praised "some of the great television news coverage this effort has received. Media coverage is an important aspect of the Tea Party Express tours - it's all about getting our message out to millions of Americans - to inform them that there is an active political resistance against the socialist agenda of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."
The Tea Party Express' examples of "great television news coverage" included links to numerous segments about their efforts on Fox News:
Tea Party Express: Organized by anti-Dem PAC to raise funds
Tea Party Express is a project of the Our Country Deserves Better Committee (OCDB), an anti-Democrat PAC formed by Russo Marsh + Rogers, a Republican political consulting firm. Russo Marsh founded Tea Party Express in order to bolster its political fundraising. Williams was until recently a vice chairman of the PAC.
OCDB formed by Republicans to oppose Obama and Democrats in Congress. OCDB PAC "was formed in August  by California political consultant Sal Russo and former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian" [Associated Press, 10/16/08]. Russo is a Republican political consultant and founder of Russo Marsh, while Kaloogian served in the California Assembly as a Republican. On its "About Us" page, OCDB states that "we must stand up to Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress." In addition to the Tea Party Express, OCBD is running campaigns titled "Oppose Obamacare," "Defeat Harry Reid," "Defeat Pelosi's Democrats!" and "Rahm Emanuel Must Resign."
Tea Party Express' "Target[s]" -- since removed -- were all Democrats. OCDB's website previously contained a section -- at http://www.teapartyexpress.org/races/index.html -- titled "Target Races," which stated that in "order for the Tea Party movement to truly have an impact, we must vote out of office those politicians who have betrayed their constituents by pushing through massive deficits, higher taxes and government intervention into the private sector and private lives of American families." All 30 targets listed as of July 28, 2009, were Democrats. The section of the website has been removed since Media Matters for America originally accessed and reviewed the section. [TeaPartyExpress.org, accessed 7/28/09]
Consultant proposed the Express saying it would "give a boost to our PAC," highlighted possible friendly coverage from "Fox commentators." In the original memo proposing the creation of Tea Party Express, a consultant with Russo Marsh, Joe Wierzbicki, wrote that it could "give a boost to our PAC and position us as a growing force/leading force as the 2010 elections come into focus." Wierzbicki also wrote that the effort could get "some mentions and possibly even promotion from conservative/pro-tea party bloggers, talk radio hosts, Fox News commentators, etc..."
Fox News has frequently denied elements of racism in Tea Party
Crowley: "I have not seen a shred of evidence" of Tea Party racism. On the July 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, while discussing accusations of racism within the Tea Party movement, guest-host Monica Crowley to her guest Ellis Henican that she had "not seen a shred of evidence" of racism at Tea Party rallies. From the show:
HENICAN: Well, you know, there is nothing inappropriate, I don't think, about a civil rights movement saying hey, there is this other thing growing up out there. And we're not accusing the whole group of being racist or everybody. But under that umbrella of Tea Party, you know there've been some pretty ugly stuff said.
CROWLEY: Where? Where, Ellis?
HENICAN: At rallies. We have--
CROWLEY: I've been to Tea Parties. Wait a minute. I've been to Tea Parties.
HENICAN: No. As have I.
CROWLEY: I've not seen a shred of evidence.
HENICAN: Well, how about--
CROWLEY: And there hasn't been any evidence that the NAACP or anybody else could provide to show that.
Hannity: "We can't find" any examples of racist signs at Tea Party rallies. On the July 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity asked his guest, Stephen Smith "Has any Tea Party member said anything racist, held any racist signs? Because we can't find it." He went on to claim that there are no examples of racist signs at Tea Party events. From the show:
HANNITY: All right. So now here's this case. The NAACP, they have a resolution explicitly racist behavior. Do you have any specific examples? Because I think the worst thing you can call somebody -- one of the worst things is a racist.
SMITH: Well --
HANNITY: Is there any example? Has any Tea Party member said anything racist, held any racist signs? Because we can't find it.
SMITH: They were saying that folks held racist signs.
HANNITY: When? Where?
SMITH: You know, in various cities. I don't know. I mean -- I have not seen the examples. I have not seen the example.
HANNITY: There are none.
FoxNews.com reported that tea party members said "no visual evidence has been produced depicting a racist attack" against African-American Democratic lawmakers. In a July 14 article, FoxNews.com reported that tea party members have said "no visual evidence has been produced depicting a racist attack":
But Tea Party members have challenged claims that their activists accosted black lawmakers in March and no visual evidence has been produced depicting a racist attack. Dallas Tea Party founder Phillip Dennis said "there was no proof" of racist behavior at the event and that the movement welcomes minority members.
Fox & Friends hosted Rep. Bachmann to rebut claims of Tea Party racism. Rep. Michelle Bachmann appeared on the July 16 edition of Fox & Friends and was asked by co-host Steve Doocy whether she had "ever seen anything that constituted racism or was even close to it." Bachmann responded that she had not, and further claimed that "there's no record" to back up "the assertions that were made by" members of the Congressional Black Caucus in which they stated that Tea Party members had hurled racial epithets at them.
Fox & Friends: "Tea Party Mischaracterized." On the July 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, while Steve Doocy reported on the NAACP's then-upcoming vote on a resolution condemning racist factions within the tea party movement, the following on-screen graphic aired: