In an interview with Fortune, News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch credited Fox News with having “absolutely saved” the Republican Party, praising the network for giving “voice and hope to people who didn't like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN.” But Fox News has not just given “voice and hope” to conservative news watchers. The network has been instrumental in helping Republicans for years by actively promoting and fundraising for GOP candidates, serving as a staging ground for numerous network employees to prep runs for office, championing Republicans' legislative goals, and systematically smearing and lying about an immeasurable number of Democrats, progressives, and any policy initiatives the network found insufficiently conservative.
During the same exchange, Murdoch reportedly bristled at the suggestion that Fox promotes the tea party, potentially at the expense of the GOP:
Does it bother you at all, Rupert, that there is a view that Fox News has contributed in a big way to the political discontent in the U.S., degraded the political process, and maybe, in spotlighting the Tea Party, even hurt the Republican Party? I think it has absolutely saved it. It has certainly given voice and hope to people who didn't like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN. By the way, we don't promote the Tea Party. That's bullshit. We recognize their existence.
But Murdoch's assertion that it's “bullshit” that Fox News promotes the tea party is, well, bullshit. Simply put, today's tea party probably wouldn't exist -- at least not at its level of influence and notoriety -- without the integral role Fox News played in promoting the first round of tea party events during Obama's first year in office.
Even given the warped standards by which Fox News' journalistic ethics are often viewed, the network's early promotion of the tea party is still staggering to revisit. In the early months of 2009, Fox News personalities on several different programs aggressively plugged the supposedly upstart tea party movement. The network even held its own events on April 15 of that year that they branded “FNC TAX DAY TEA PARTIES.” Fox News hosts Glenn Beck (who has since left the network), Neil Cavuto, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren all broadcast live that day from various tea parties around the country.
The network was so excited about its “coverage” of the April 15 tea parties that it ran at least 107 advertisements promoting their special day. (Sample line from one of the ads: “April 15th, all across the country, Americans are making their voices heard.” )
For viewers that couldn't make it to an actual tea party, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer helpfully informed viewers, “Can't get to a tea party? Fox Nation hosts a virtual tea party.”
Following those Tax Day tea parties, dozens of articles in newspapers around the country cited Fox News' role in jumpstarting the movement and helping to turn out participants.
Fox's tea party promotion certainly wasn't limited to the April 15 tea parties. Later in 2009 the network relentlessly hyped -- both on air and online -- a bus tour led by conservative group Tea Party Express. The network embedded correspondent Griff Jenkins on the bus tour, where he repeatedly expressed support for the tea partiers:
The next year, Fox continued to give Tea Party Express a boost, at one point providing nearly all-day coverage to an anti-Harry Reid rally held in Nevada that the network billed as “Conservative Woodstock?” The group subsequently said that Fox News “promoted” the tea parties.
And if all that's not enough, some images from Fox's countless segments promoting the tea party over the years: