Murdoch's WSJ whitewashes the Tea Party movement

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

There are lots of things wrong with the Wall Street Journal's big A1 celebration of the Tea Party movement today, as the newspaper publishes a lengthy look back at how the groups were formed and how they gained political clout.

For instance, the Journal completely underplays the extraordinarily important role outside, non-grassroots, entities have played in propping up Tea Parties. Outside players like Fox News, right-wing billionaire David Koch, and Washington insider Dick Armey. Instead, the Journal sticks to the preferred Tea Party script of an authentic grassroots uprising.

The Journal also reports that Tea Party groups were instrumental in Scott Brown's Massachusetts win earlier this year; a claim that not even the Republican senator thinks is true.

But perhaps most amazing is how the Journal lets Tea Party founders claim that the conservative, anti-Obama movement was a reaction against Republicans, and that their anger was aimed at Republican members of Congress.


Look at this obvious disconnect:

As her family's fortunes crumbled, Congress—including Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), for whose campaign Ms. Martin had volunteered—voted for President George Bush's bill to bail out the big Wall Street banks.

Ms. Martin was enraged. "It wasn't because the government didn't bail my husband's business out," she says. "Sometimes it stinks when your business goes bad. But it's part of our system.… The government doesn't need to come in and hold a business up and keep it from failing."

In the span of a few weeks in February and March 2009, the two women met on a conference call and helped found the first major national organization in the tea-party movement. Within months, they became two of the central figures in the most dynamic force in American politics this year.

Ms. Kremer, 39, currently chairs the political action committee known as the Tea Party Express. It has raised millions of dollars for upstart candidates and engineered the campaign that threatens Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Once shy about public speaking, today she crisscrosses the country addressing thousands at a time. "Are you ready to fire Harry Reid?" Ms. Kremer bellowed to a crowd of 2,000 in Reno, Nev., this month.

Ms. Martin, 40, is national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, an umbrella group claiming affiliation with nearly 3,000 local groups around the U.S. Leaving her young son and daughter at home, she is on a 30-city tour, revving up activists for the victory she is counting on next Tuesday.

"This was something I had to do," Ms. Martin says. "There were just so many of us who were fed up with the Republican Party."

Powered predominantly by middle-aged, middle-class Americans with limited political experience, the tea-party movement burst out of economic upheaval and the sense among some conservatives that the Republican Party had discarded them.

So Tea Partiers supposedly felt abandoned by the GOP and were angry about the Bush-led bailout of Wall Street, so today they hold rallies to make sure Democrats are driven from office?

That makes no sense. And unfortunately the Journal makes no effort to clear up the confusion or even confront the contradiction. Instead, Rupert Murdoch's Journal runs with the bewildering claim that today's Tea Party groups, made up overwhelmingly of Republicans, were formed as a way to express anger at Republicans.

Wall Street Journal
Rupert Murdoch
Tea Party
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