Following White House communications director Anita Dunn's recent critique of Fox News serving as an “arm” of the Republican Party, Fox News did not devote any live coverage to what it had previously referred to as the October 17 “tea part[y]” protests by Operation: Can You Hear Us Now?, an organization that planned “to show the MSM [mainstream media] that we as the American Public are absolutely fed up with their journalistic malpractice.” By contrast, Fox News devoted significant promotion and live coverage of the April 15 tax day tea party and the September 12 “March on Washington.”
On October 17, Fox News aired no live coverage of media protests
Operation: Can You Hear Us Now? organized October 17 protests against “journalistic malpractice.” According to the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Operation: Can You Hear Us Now? website, the protests were a “nationwide event meant to show the MSM that we as the American Public are absolutely fed up with their journalistic malpractice.”
Fox News did not cover “Tea Parties Marching on Media Outlets” live on October 17. According to a Media Matters for America review of Fox News' programming on October 17, the network did not report live on the media protests that day. While Fox News devoted no on-air coverage to the protests that day, FoxNews.com ran an October 17 article headlined, “Tea Partiers Take Aim at Major Media Outlets.” The article stated that the "[t]he 'tea party' movement is back" and reported that "[t]he 'Can You Hear Us Now' rallies are planned for Saturday in front of NBC studios in Burbank, CNN in Atlanta and affiliate stations of NBC, ABC and CBS across the nation."
Fox News had previously promoted October 17 “tea parties” protesting “journalistic malpractice”
October 17 non-coverage follows criticism of Fox News
WH's Dunn: Fox News is “opinion journalism masquerading as news.” An October 8 Time magazine profile quoted Dunn labeling Fox News as “opinion journalism masquerading as news.”
Dunn: “Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.” On the October 11 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, Dunn said that “I think what is fair to say about Fox and certainly the way we view it is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party.” Dunn also criticized Fox News' “story selection.”
Media Matters president Burns: Fox News “a 24/7 political operation” geared to destroy Obama presidency, progressive agenda. On the October 12 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Media Matters president Eric Burns criticized Fox News as “a 24/7 political operation with a very specific goal. And that is to destroy this presidency, and destroy any sort of progressive policy agenda that the American people voted for in November.”
By contrast, Fox News heavily promoted and live-covered 9-12 protests
Beck's 9-12 Project helped organize protests, which Fox News covered live. Fox News host Glenn Beck founded the 9-12 Project, which describes itself as “a place for you and other like-minded Americans looking for direction in taking back the control of our country.” Beck's 9-12 website worked with others organizing the September 12 “March on Washington.” Beck himself participated in the protest by broadcasting live from 1 to 3 p.m. ET on Fox News. Fox News also dispatched contributor Tucker Carlson and reporter and “tea party groupie” Griff Jenkins to the protests:
Beck: “On 9-12, I hope to see you in Washington. I will make sure you're seen all over the country.” On August 28, Beck described the 9-12 Project's “March on Washington” as something “worth standing up for” and told viewers, “I hope to see you in Washington. I will make sure you're seen all over the country.”
9-12 march website: Beck “really helping our numbers grow!” A post on the 9-12 march website 912dc.org states, “The recent coverage by Glenn Beck is really helping our numbers grow!” The website frequently mentions Beck's promotion of the march and excerpted a September 8 USA Today article reporting that the march has been "[e]ncouraged by conservative commentators such as Fox's Glenn Beck."
Fox relentlessly promoted Tea Party Express. Fox News heavily promoted the Tea Party Express tour -- the final stop of which was the 9-12 protest -- on Fox News, Fox Business, the Fox Nation, and FoxNews.com. The network frequently provided viewers the dates and locations of upcoming stops. For instance, on the August 23 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ, anchor Shannon Bream said, “We want to let folks know” the tour schedule so “they can be a part” of events. The Tea Party Express was organized by a political action committee -- formed by Republican operatives -- whose mission is to oppose President Obama and other Democrats.
Protesters said they were viewers of Beck and Fox News. In a September 15 video titled, “Brought To You By Fox,” Media Matters for America documented numerous 9-12 protesters crediting Beck and Fox News with providing “fair and balanced” coverage.
Fox News also heavily promoted, live-covered, and took ownership of April 15 tea parties
Network was chief promoter of April 15 “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” In the lead-up to the April 15 tea parties, which the channel repeatedly described as “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties,” Fox News frequently aired segments publicizing and encouraging viewers to get involved with the protests. Fox News itself described the protests primarily as a response to the Obama administration and its policies. A Media Matters study found that from April 6 to 13, Fox News featured at least 20 segments on the “tea party” protests, and a subsequent Media Matters study found that from April 6 to 15, Fox News aired at least 107 commercial promotions for its coverage of the April 15 tea parties.
FNC broadcasted live from protests on April 15. On April 15, Fox News hosts Beck, Neil Cavuto, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren each provided live coverage from the sites of separate tea parties. Fox News also dispatched reporters and other hosts to the April 15 protests.
“I saw it on Fox” : Fox's advocacy turns out crowds to protests. After the April 15 tea parties, dozens of local and national media outlets noted that Fox News was a driving force behind the tea parties. Numerous reports quoted participants saying they were driven to the protests by Fox. CNN and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz remarked, “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.”