Dozens of articles about tea parties in various cities reported that Fox News and its hosts helped influence, start, or turn out participants to local protests.
As Media Matters for America has documented, Fox News aggressively promoted the April 15 "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties" and encouraged viewers to get involved with tea party protests across the country. 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. Fox News' promotion of the tea parties had its intended effect: Dozens of articles about tea parties in various cities reported that Fox News and its hosts helped influence, start, or turn out participants to local protests. In numerous cases, these reports quoted local participants or organizers stating they were motivated to join or start protests because of Fox News.
Media Matters has compiled the following examples:
- The Odessa American (TX) reported of a rally outside Odessa City Hall: “Statements like 'I saw it on Fox' were heard around the crowd, which organizers hope will be the first of many in the area.”
- An April 15 Associated Press article reported of a protest in Louisville, Kentucky: “Laura Watkins pushed her 2-year-old daughter Zoe in a stroller with a sign strapped to the front reading 'My Piggy Bank is not Your ATM.' Watkins said she joined the protest after reading about it online and hearing about it on Fox News. 'I don't want my daughter to inherit all this debt,' she said.”
- Reporting on protests in Indianapolis and elsewhere, The Indianapolis Star reported that “Fox News has been promoting the rallies for weeks. ... The protest in Indianapolis and elsewhere developed through online social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and through exposure on Fox News.”
- Florida Today reported of a Brevard County protest: " 'It was very peaceable,' Cindy Sundin of Satellite Beach, said of the event. She passed out eco-friendly 'Unite or Die' wristbands, from popular Fox News Channel pundit and radio talk show host Glenn Beck's 'We Surround Them' campaign."
- The Hattiesburg American (MS) reported of a local protest: “The protest was hosted by the 912 Project-Hattiesburg, a grassroots organization founded on conservative national talk show host Glenn Beck's 'We Surround Them' project, which seeks to bring accountability in government. The organization's Tax Day Tea Party was one of hundreds held around the country.”
- The Loveland Connection (CO) reported of a local protest: "[Tom] Buchanan, who is a longtime Republican Party supporter and the webmaster for the Larimer County Republican Party, said the event in Loveland Wednesday was not about the Republican Party. In fact, its genesis came from a group called 9-12 Loveland, which formed around conservative commentator Glenn Beck's 9-12 Project -- which stands for nine principles and 12 values."
- WSHM-TV (CBS, Springfield, MA) reported of a local protest: “In Springfield, the 912 Project, a Glenn Beck inspired movement, held their tea party at the Springfield Post Office on Main Street. Hundreds turned out with signs protesting high taxes and government's involvement in American lives.”
- WXIA-TV (NBC, Atlanta) reported of Atlanta's tea party: “Just one of hundreds being held across the country, Atlanta's tea party was expected to be one of the biggest because conservative TV personality Sean Hannity used it as the backdrop for his Wednesday night show on Fox News Network. While Hannity gave it a huge boost, grass roots planning for Atlanta's big event began months ago after an earlier February 27th tea party that drew 250 to 300 to the Capitol steps in the pouring rain with only one week's planning.”
- WOAI-TV (NBC, San Antonio) reported that the “San Antonio Tea Party grabbed national attention with radio and TV talk show host Glenn Beck airing his TV show here on Fox[.] While many came to see that, others came to say 'no more spending.' ”
- The Anchorage Daily News (AK) reported of a local protest: “Hundreds more gathered in the Mat-Su later in the day as a coalition of conservative groups, spurred by Fox News, organized hundreds of similar events around the country.”
- The Holland Sentinel (MI) reported that a couple at a local protest “found slogans on various Web sites promoting the tea parties. Among the cadre of small organizations promoting the tea parties was Fox News' Glenn Beck.”
- The Review Times (Fostoria, OH) reported that protest organizer Steve “McMaster said the idea for the Findlay [OH] protest also stemmed from some members of the Young Republicans group watching a program hosted by conservative personality Glenn Beck in which he urged people to gather in their homes to discuss recent federal government actions.”
- The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, IN) reported that Brenda “Fillmon and her son were only two of the nearly 100 local residents who filled the corner near the Madison County Courthouse touting signs of protest as part of the national tea party inspired by Fox News host Glenn Beck.”
- The Vindicator (Youngstown, OH) reported of a local protest: “The protest was organized by Patriots in Action, a group with about 60 members that is based in Sharon, said its president, Sue Brei. The group appeared to bend to the conservative side, with one speaker touting his 'Judeo-Christian values.' Another urged the crowd to make sure to listen to conservative radio talk-show host Glenn Beck.”
- The Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) reported of a local protest: “The protest was organized in part by Rochester Conservatives and We Surround Rochester, part of conservative commentator Glen [sic] Beck's 9-12 project, which aims to unite Americans as they were on Sept. 12, 2001, to 'protect the values and principles' of the nation.”
- The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY) reported of a local protest: “The Syracuse-area tea parties were held in conjunction with similar events across the nation, promoted by national celebrity commentators Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.”
- The Sacramento Bee (CA) reported of a local rally: “One of the network's business news anchors, Neil Cavuto, broadcast live from the Capitol event, the announcement of which drew lusty cheers from the crowd.”
- The New Britain Herald (CT) reported that the protests have “been big talk for months on conservative radio, Fox News Channel and some other outlets.” It later reported of one participant stating: " 'Wasteful spending is going to result in more taxes,' said another in the party, Joanne Edman. 'I've been on this for a while -- I watch Fox News every night.' "
- The Los Angeles Times reported of a Glendale, California, protest: "[Debi Devens] said she was spurred to action because she disagreed with some of President Obama's policies toward veterans. She applied for a city permit, e-mailed all of her friends and sent news releases to media outlets across the Southland. Devens said she also made sure the event was posted on websites run by TV news personalities Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck."
- KOMU-TV (NBC, Columbia, MO) reported of a local protest: “Local event coordinators said they're taking their cues from Glenn Beck, [Fox News contributor] Newt Gingrich and other conservatives, who've been urging Americans to protest.”
- The Star Beacon (Ashtabula, OH) reported of a local protest: “The Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party was one of at 2,049 planned for the United States, according to the Web site, www.teapartyday.com. The American Family Association sponsored the events, which found favor with followers of conservative broadcast commentator Glenn Beck and the 9-12 Project, as well as others.”
- The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that “Janine Hansen, a longtime lobbyist for the conservative, pro-family Nevada Eagle Forum, said she believes the sentiment of the protesters reflects current thinking of mainstream Americans. While acknowledging that FOX News and local conservative talk show hosts had urged people to attend the protest, Hansen said people had to have strong objections to government to take time off work and drive to Carson City for a rally.”
- The Washington Independent took a photo of a sign at a protest across from the White House that read, “Thank You! Fox News for keeping us in the loop!!!”:
The Independent's David Weigel contrasted the sign with Fox News' claims that it's not promoting the rallies, writing, “Remember: Fox News reported on these rallies. It didn't promote them!” Weigel further noted the presence of Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham, Fox Business analyst Tobin Smith, and Fox News reporter Griff Jenkins.
- In a blog post for the Dallas Observer about a local protest, Daniel Daugherty posted a picture of a sign stating: “Thank GOD for our Military and The FOX News Channel. Stop big govts wasteful Spending!!!”:
Daugherty further wrote:
The scene at the Dallas Tea Party played out as it had all over North Texas, the U-S-A-U-S-A- and Fox News Channel throughout the day: Folks were told to show up and protest President Obama and the budget and the stimulus plan and federal taxes, only they brought signs and shirts invoking everything from welfare spending (“We are paying for people to not work, and we don't want to do that anymore,” said one woman) to their opposition to national health care and gun control. And plentiful among the crowd were signs invoking Jesus and demanding the U.S.'s withdrawal from the United Nations. You can see as much in our slide show. And in this video.
Kelly Connell's scared Obama will take away her guns: “It's just one of the things I think he'll attempt to do.” Her husband Billy worries about pork spending: “Fox News said yesterday there's more money budgeted for polar bears than for education in the United States. ... When you put a polar bear ahead of our children, I think that's pretty bad.”
- The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote of Fox News' involvement at the Washington, D.C., protest:
Those messages might explain why Fox News, though actively promoting the “tea party” protests for tax day, tried to argue that it was not behind yesterday's coast-to-coast events. But Fox News analyst Tobin Smith, who took the stage in Lafayette Square yesterday, evidently didn't get the memo. “On behalf of Fox News Channel,” he told more than 500 mud-spattered demonstrators, “I want to say: Welcome to the Comedy Channel of America, Washington, D.C.”
After a few preliminaries, he went into a Fox News commercial for anchor Glenn Beck. “Anybody watching Glenn?” he asked to cheers. “That was a shameless plug, wasn't it? Glenn says hello as well. He's out at another tea party.” Indeed he was, as were Sean Hannity and Neil Cavuto.
A small group of counterdemonstrators, wearing ballgowns, tuxedoes and pig snouts, interrupted and were stripped of their signs. Smith seized the display as an opportunity to highlight the Fox News slogan. “You know what 'Fair and Balanced' means?” he asked. " 'Fair and Balanced' means we take our message and try to overcompensate for their lack of message." Smith left with instructions: “Keep watching Fox, will you?”
The theme was echoed in some of the homemade signs the demonstrators carried, including “Watch Fox News,” “Thank You Fox News,” and even a recommendation: “Move Glenn Beck to 7 PM.”
In addition to dozens of reports about Fox News' influence in helping protests, an April 16 AP article reported of tea parties' organizers:
The tea parties were promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington and led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, who is now a lobbyist.
Organizers said the movement developed organically through online social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and through exposure on Fox News and promotion from conservative pundits and bloggers.
While FreedomWorks insisted the rallies were nonpartisan, they have been seized on by many prominent Republicans who view them as a promising way for the party to reclaim its momentum against President Barack Obama's administration and other Democrats.