During a Fox News Watch panel discussion of media coverage of the April 15 tea parties, panelist Jim Pinkerton did not disclose that he had urged people to get involved in “protesting against the evils of over-taxation and its wicked handmaidens, over-spending and over-regulation.”
The April 18 edition of Fox News' media criticism show, Fox News Watch, featured a discussion on the “mainstream media” coverage of the April 15 tea parties, panelist Jim Pinkerton did not disclose -- and host Jon Scott did not mention -- that, in a post on FoxNews.com, he had urged people to get involved in “protesting against the evils of over-taxation and its wicked handmaidens, over-spending and over-regulation” and supplied information on “how and where to get connected to a tea party -- or how to start your own tea party.” Pinkerton, a regular Fox News Watch panelist, asserted during the Fox News Watch discussion that “the mindset of the mainstream media” is to “trash an anti-government pro-tea party” and that “the real driver [of the parties] was the Internet.” He also asserted that CNN's Susan Roesgen's grilling of a tea party attendee who called Obama a “fascist” was the “least professional cable news performance I've seen in the history of cable news, watch her ranting about the conservatives and calling them every possible name.”
Pinkerton wrote in an April 8 post on FoxNews.com's Fox Forum: “Anti-Tax Tea Parties: They are not just for American history any more -- we need them now! And you can be a part of this new making of history.” Later in the post -- which was also featured on another Fox News website, the Fox Nation -- Pinkerton wrote:
Today, in our time, we need to make a similar point in the face of arrogant power. And you can, too, on April 15, when millions of Americans will gather in peaceful protest across the country, protesting against the evils of over-taxation and its wicked handmaidens, over-spending and over-regulation.
If you visit the Web site of Tax Day Tea Party, you will find plenty of information on how and where to get connected to a tea party-or how to start your own tea party.
Plenty of big names will be involved, ranging across the country. Glenn Beck will be in Texas and Newt Gingrich will be in New York City. Sean Hannity will be in Atlanta. Neal Cavuto will be in Sacramento. And many, many more-FOX News and FOX Nation folks will be providing full coverage.
But most of all, the “Tea Party 2” movement needs YOU.
As Media Matters for America documented, despite its promise to deliver “total fair and balanced network coverage” of the April 15 tea party protests, Fox News hosts aggressively promoted the protests and encouraged viewers across the country to get involved. From April 6 to April 15, the network aired 107 commercial promotions for its coverage of the tea-party protests, featured at least 20 segments about the protests, directed viewers to a "virtual tea party" on FoxNation.com, and repeatedly described the protests as “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” During the lead-up to the April 15 protests, tea-party organizers also used the planned attendance of several Fox News hosts to promote their protests. Indeed, Goldberg noted: “I think there,s a perfectly legitimate criticism against Fox for not so much the coverage but the commercials promoting, you know, the coverage, which was, in effect, advertisements for these things. But this was all transparent; people knew that's what Fox was doing.”
From the April 18 edition of Fox News Watch:
JON SCOTT (host): This week on Fox News Watch, tea time across the USA. As some in the mainstream media mocked the movement, Americans turn out and talk back.
SCOTT: Just some of the sights and sounds there of the anti-tax tea parties that were held all over the country on Wednesday. In the mainstream media, it seemed many didn't know what to make of them. 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?
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 had the right --
ROESGEN: Sir, what does this have to do with taxes? What does this have to do with your taxes? Do you realize you're eligible for $400 credit --
MAN: Let me finish speaking -- let me finish my point. [...]
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.
SCOTT: All right. Jonah, you're first up. What's your reaction to what we just saw there?
GOLDBERG: This is a family show, right?
SCOTT: Yes, it is.
GOLDBERG: I thought this was a refreshing and wonderful moment of honesty from CNN, where you actually got to see the mindset that is pretty commonplace around places like CNN, where I used to be a contributor. And I think it shows the sort of general disdain of a lot of people in the mainstream media for these sorts of things. You would never see something like this at a massive immigration rally, where someone making fun of somebody, you know, butchering the language or anything like that.
SCOTT: You used to cover, Jane, for the LA Times -- you used to cover the media business. MSNBC and CNN, some of their hosts were using a very derogatory term, a slang term for oral sex in discussing these parties. Can you explain why?
HALL: Well, let me see if I can be academic about that. I think that they were reacting to what they perceived as Fox -- I think we're talking about the niche-ing of the news. Fox covered this extensively, and I think they decided that it was a Fox thing. You know, you can debate whether Fox promoted it or whether Fox covered it extensively. They decided it was a Fox thing. I think it was embarrassing for that woman to say it was anti-CNN. But I think that many of these people feel as if they're under attack and Fox is promoting this. And that's where they were coming from. Neither one is subjective. That's not objective reporting that woman was doing.
PINKERTON: Well, let's clarify this. As the New York Post reported, General Electric gave the order to CNBC to knock off the pop -- the Rick Santelli-style populism, and I'm sure MSNBC was perfectly happy to join them. CNBC and MSNBC are on the government payroll. Of course they're going to trash an anti-government pro-tea party thing. But look, let's talk about the mindset of the main stream media here. There has never been a poor minority that the mainstream media didn't gush over, and they increasingly identify with Wall Street. What is left out is the white middle and working class. To them, they're just a bunch of Archie Bunkers.
SCOTT: Yeah. Judy, the press very eagerly covered the Proposition 8 protests in California, the gay marriage, you know, those -- the protests in support of gay marriage. Would they have gotten -- I mean, did they get the same kind of press? Was it equal?
MILLER: Well, not all protests are equal, as we've seen. I mean, part of the problem -- I think the frustration I felt as a reader and as a viewer,was looking out and seeing it was either tea for not two, but tea for 200, 2,000, 200,000, depending on which station you were watching or which newspaper you were reading. And an effort to step back and look at what was going on here, the fact that the Republicans finally have gotten a sense of how to use Internet network grassroots or Astroturf, depending on --
GOLDBERG: It wasn't the Republicans?
MILLER: Yes, it was. Come on. It was a Republican event and they mastered it, and very few commentators pointed that out.
GOLDBERG: How do we know it was Republican event? What is the actual reporting that it says it was Republican event? Republicans weren't -- Republican officials were not allowed to speak at this, the people who were the main organizers --
HALL: Well, Dick Armey's website was involved in it --
MILLER: Yes, absolutely.
HALL: -- various conservative websites. I think this actually shows a vacuum in the Republican Party. I sort of disagree --
GOLDBERG: I didn't quite hear you answering Jonah's question. Was it a Republican event?
HALL: I think Judy is making the point that you wouldn't know. First of all, I disagree -- wait, wait --
SCOTT: Hold on. I thought I heard Judy say it was a Republican event.
MILLER: I'm assuming it was --
SCOTT: Oh, I see, I see.
MILLER: -- because he media did not fully explore that issue --
HALL: It was never clearly -- Dick Army's website, I gather, was involved. I think it actually shows a vacuum in the Republican Party because I think it came from other places, and I think the Republican Party is thinking how can they act --
PINKERTON: So Jonah's right.
SCOTT: Jonah raises -- Judy raises --
GOLDBERG: I mean, Republicans were trashed at a lot of these events.
HALL: We don't know the answer.
GOLDBERG: I mean, Glenn Beck -- Glenn Beck -- I know Glenn Beck on this network trashed Republicans at the one at the Alamo, and there was huge cheering from the crowd. I think it was much more of a conservative movement event, much less of a Republican event.
SCOTT: But Judy raises a point, Jonah. If this had come about in the age prior to cable news, would it have gotten the same kind of coverage? Would it have gotten any kind of coverage?
GOLDBERG: Oh, probably not. I think -- and that's -- but that's a good thing about cable news, is that it's democratized news coverage somewhat.
HALL: But the point is, I mean, I do think we have to say that the Fox hosts being there and talking about it was a factor. I mean, that is a factor in how it got play.
SCOTT: Did the Fox coverage and the promotion of the coverage, did that force the other networks to pay attention to it?
HALL: I think it did, because the other TV networks ended up leading with it. Here is where The New York Times and The Washington Post buried it inside as a metro story. I think that's a mistake. I really do.
MILLER: I agree. It was a mistake to underplay it.
PINKERTON: The real driver here was the Internet. Again, when you -- if you wanted to watch all the Susan Roesgen thing, which is the least professional cable news performance I've seen in the history of cable news, you want to see her ranting and raving about the conservatives and calling them every possible name, you could watch it on YouTube. You didn't need any of these cable networks.
GOLDBERG: One point. I think there's a perfectly legitimate criticism against Fox for not so much the coverage but the commercials promoting, you know, the coverage, which was, in effect, advertisements for these things. But this was all transparent; people knew that's what Fox was doing. Let's flash back to what GE -- to pick up a point that Jim made -- GE basically issued a fatwa to NBC for “Green Week,” where they did hundred of hours of environmental messaging in all of their dramas, news coverage, the Today show, throughout the network. And it was all hailed as a wonderful progressive thing. That is a much more pernicious kind of promotion than anything that Fox did.