REPORT: "Fair and balanced" Fox News aggressively promotes "tea party" protests
Research ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI
Despite its repeated insistence that its coverage is "fair and balanced" and its invitation to viewers to "say 'no' to biased media," Fox News has frequently aired segments encouraging viewers to get involved with "tea party" protests across the country, which the channel has described as primarily a response to President Obama's fiscal policies. Media Matters has compiled an analysis of Fox News' promotion of these events.
Despite its repeated insistence that its coverage is "fair and balanced" and its invitation to viewers to "say 'no' to biased media," in recent weeks, Fox News has frequently aired segments encouraging viewers to get involved with "tea party" protests across the country, which the channel has often described as primarily a response to President Obama's fiscal policies. Specifically, Fox News has in dozens of instances provided attendance and organizing information for future protests, such as protest dates, locations and website URLs. Fox News websites have also posted information and publicity material for protests. Fox News hosts have repeatedly encouraged viewers to join them at several April 15 protests that they are attending and covering; during the April 6 edition of Glenn Beck, on-screen text characterized these events as "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." Tea-party organizers have used the planned attendance of the Fox News hosts to promote their protests. Fox News has also aired numerous interviews with protest organizers. Moreover, Fox News contributors are listed as "Tea Party Sponsor[s]" on TaxDayTeaParty.com. Media Matters for America has compiled the following analysis of Fox News' promotion of the tea-party protests. (Most transcripts are taken from the Nexis database.)
Protests responding to administration policies
While tea-party organizers have stated that the protests are nonpartisan, Fox News and organizers have also characterized the protests primarily as a response to the administration's fiscal policies.
TaxDayTeaParty.com -- which describes itself as the "Online HQ for the April 15th Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party Rallies" -- states: "The Tea Party protests, in their current form, began in early 2009 when Rick Santelli, the On Air Editor for CNBC, set out on a rant to expose the bankrupt liberal agenda of the White House Administration and Congress. Specifically, the flawed 'Stimulus Bill' and pork filled budget."
Fox News personalities have repeatedly characterized the protests primarily as a response to the Obama administration's fiscal policies. For instance:
- On the February 27 edition of On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren said: " 'Tea party' protests are erupting across the country. Angry taxpayers, or at least some of them, are taking to the streets in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party. People are protesting President Obama's massive $787 billion stimulus bill, his $3.55 trillion budget and a federal government that has been ballooning by the day since the president took office."
- On the March 16 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly said that "big government spending protests are taking place all over the country. The latest in Cincinnati where about 5,000 folks showed up, showed their displeasure with the Obama's administration money strategy. These gatherings are being dubbed tea parties."
- On the March 25 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier said that the tea parties are "protests of wasteful government spending in general and of President Obama's stimulus package and his budget in particular."
- During the April 6 edition of America's Newsroom, FoxNews.com contributor Andrea Tantaros said of the protests: "People are fighting against Barack Obama's radical shift to turn us into Europe." Fox News also aired on-screen text stating that the "Tea Parties Are Anti-Stimulus Demonstrations."
Additionally, Peter Roff, a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty who is listed as a "contributor" to FoxNews.com's Fox Forum, wrote in an April 3 blog post on the Fox Forum: "In the case of the current crisis the blame appears to have been assigned almost totally to Obama, at least by the thousands of U.S. taxpayers attending near-spontaneous 'tea parties' in protest of the Democrats agenda of more taxes, increased spending, higher deficits and a surge of borrowing to pay for it all."
From Roff's Fox Forum post:
In the case of the current crisis the blame appears to have been assigned almost totally to Obama, at least by the thousands of U.S. taxpayers attending near-spontaneous "tea parties" in protest of the Democrats agenda of more taxes, increased spending, higher deficits and a surge of borrowing to pay for it all. These mass protests, which have been occurring in different spots almost weekly -- 2,000 people in St. Louis, 3,000 people in Cincinnati, 6,000 people in Orlando -- promise to culminate on Tax Day, April 15, with at least 300 protests at sites large and small according to the "official" Tax Day Tea Party Web site.
As was the case with the Obama campaign, the new "Tea Party Movement" is bringing people out to engage in politics, many for the first time in their lives. And, again, as was the case with the Obama presidential campaign, these activists are making liberal use of new media technologies like Twitter and Facebook to find supporters and allies, to meet each other and to establish a sense of community, a community of people who are being economically oppressed by the new burdens being placed on them by the Democrats who now are in complete control in Washington,. D.C.
Roff's Institute for Liberty is listed as a "Tea Party Sponsor" on TaxDayTeaParty.com; Roff has also authored a "How to Brew a Tea Party" kit to "show you step-by-step what you can do to make your hometown Tea Party a success, including slogans you can use and model press releases for you to send."
While discussing the April 15 protests on his April 6 program, Glenn Beck suggested that viewers could "[c]elebrate with Fox News" by either attending a protest or watching it on Fox News. Beck stated that in addition to himself, hosts Neil Cavuto, Greta Van Susteren, and Sean Hannity would be "live" at different protests. While Beck spoke, on-screen text labeled those protests as "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties."
TaxDayTeaParty.com lists Fox News contributors Michelle Malkin and Tammy Bruce as "Tea Party Sponsors." The sponsors section also lists American Solutions for Winning the Future, whose general chairman is Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich. Gingrich filmed a video "invitation" to attend the April 15 protests. According to TaxDayTeaParty.com, "Gingrich will be a featured speaker" at the April 15 protest in New York City.
Tea-party organizers have used the planned attendance of the Fox News hosts to promote their protests. For instance, the Sacramento Tea Party website uses Cavuto's image at the top of its home page:
On its Facebook page, the Sacramento Tea Party states: "We've just received notice that FoxNews will be broadcasting the 'Your World with Neil Cavuto' show live from the Sacramento Tea Party. Now we really have a chance to let the whole nation hear our voices in Sacramento. Bring your friends, family and everyone you know!"
The website AtlantaTeaParty.net states of Sean Hannity's appearance at its Atlanta protest:
Moments ago, Sean Hannity, of Hannity on Fox News, announced that he is going to broadcast LIVE from the ATLANTA TEA PARTY!!!! Fox will also have news crews in other cities around the country at their Tea Parties. This is huge and exciting news for the Atlanta event and also for the Tea Party movement in general.
We are honored to have Hannity covering our Atlanta Tea Party!
San Antonio Express-News media columnist Jeanne Jakle wrote in an April 2 blog post that "Eric Adam, the media correspondent for the San Antonio Tea Party, said he's expecting thousands to attend the event now that Beck and his national forum are involved." From the post:
Eric Adam, the media correspondent for the San Antonio Tea Party, said he's expecting thousands to attend the event now that Beck and his national forum are involved.
"We're tired of the government spending all our money," Adam said of the tea party's message. "We're not anti-Obama, we're not anti-Republican or anti-Democrat, we're anti-arrogance. We don't approve of the fact that the government thinks we're stupid."
He said it will be a family-friendly event with water, comfort, security and, he emphasized, "no violence." Adam said all logistics haven't been worked out, but "we're aiming for the actual tea party to start at 6 p.m."
Promoting and reporting on the protests
The tea-party protests have been promoted or covered on numerous Fox News shows, including Fox & Friends, America's Newsroom, Your World, Glenn Beck, Special Report, The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and On the Record. The following represents a show-by-show cataloging of Fox News' protest coverage.
On April 7, co-host Bill Hemmer interviewed Felicia Cravens, the organizer of the Houston tea party. While Cravens spoke, Fox News displayed the following on-screen information about the protest:
During the segment, both Fox News and Cravens said that the event was nonpartisan. While Hemmer spoke, Fox News aired protest footage referencing Obama:
At the conclusion of the interview, Hemmer directed viewers to go to America's Newsroom's website for more information about the protests. On-screen text displayed the following information:
America's Newsroom's website currently displays a link to "Upcoming 'Tea Party' protests." The website also hosts a list of protests, and states that "protests over big government spending and bailouts are popping up all over the country."
On April 6, Hemmer discussed the tea parties' political impact with Tantaros and Fox News contributor Bob Beckel. During the segment, Tantaros said of the protests: "People are fighting against Barack Obama's radical shift to turn us into Europe." Fox News also aired footage referencing Obama, and on-screen text stated that "Tea Parties Are Anti-Stimulus Demonstrations":
After the discussion, Hemmer directed viewers to visit the program's website for more information:
If you want to know more about the tea-party movement, if there is one happening near you, head to our website FoxNews.com/americasnewsroom. We have an entire section devoted to the growing tea-party movement. That's our America's Newsroom website online. All the information you need to know. Check it out right now.
While Hemmer spoke, the following graphic appeared on-screen:
On March 24, Hemmer noted protests in Florida and Ohio and directed viewers to the program's website to learn more about the protests. From the program:
HEMMER: It's called the tea party. And check out the scene in Orlando, Florida. More than 4,000 turned out over the weekend protesting government spending and a big thumbs-down to the policies currently in Washington. Radio host Bud Hedinger hosted that event. Protesters, well, they waved flags and signs and with slogans like "Repeal the Pork" and "Our Bacon is Cooked." I say, our bacon is cooked.
They're popping up literally all across the country now. They had about 5,000 in Cincinnati last weekend. If you go to our website, you will find a growing list of these events, hundreds of photos, and a new tea-party anthem that you will hear from the man who wrote it and recorded it next hour. And there's a list of the nationwide Tax Day tea-party events coming up on the 15th of April, which will be a huge deal for those organizations. So check it out online right now.
While Hemmer spoke, on-screen text directed viewers to a Fox News website listing protests:
Later during the program, Hemmer interviewed Lloyd Marcus, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Conservative People of Color, who wrote a song for the protests. Marcus said that he previously "was on a 40-city 'Stop Obama' tour" and later said of the Orlando, Florida, protest: "[P]eople were not negative about Obama the man, they were negative about his policies, what this man is trying to do -- have all this government overreach. That's what people were really concerned about."
After Marcus' interview concluded, co-host Megyn Kelly said: "Great guest."
Marcus' song -- which is posted on FoxNews.com -- appears to be primarily about Obama:
Your stimulus is sure to bust.
It's just a socialistic scheme,
The only thing it will do
Is kill the American Dream.
You wanna take from achievers
Somehow you think that's fair.
And redistribute to those folks
Who won't get out of their easy chair.
We're havin' a tea party across this land.
If you love this country,
Come on and join our band.
We're standin' up for freedom and liberty,
'Cause patriots have shown us freedom ain't free.
So when they call you a racist cause you disagree,
It's just another of their dirty tricks to silence you and me.
The song later added: "We gotta vote out these clowns who don't love the USA."
During the interview, on-screen text directed viewers to protest websites:
On March 23, Hemmer directed people to a list of tea party events on FoxNews.com and promised to "add to [the list] when we get more information from the New American Tea Party." While Hemmer spoke, the following on-screen text appeared:
Hannity has frequently promoted the April 15 protests by providing on-air information about the protests and encouraging viewers to "join us." Hannity has also encouraged viewers to "send us your 'Tax Day Tea Party' videos," which he said may be posted online or on-air. In promoting the protests, Hannity has directed viewers to visit his websites for more information. Hannity.com features the following graphic:
The graphic links to a message board discussion that states: "This thread is for the sole purpose of getting the word out about organized tea party events around the country. If you know of a planned event, please post the information here."
In a blog post on Hannity's FoxNews.com site, producers for Hannity wrote, "Get your Tea Party Tees at CAFE PRESS and wear them on April 15!" and included a link to the site. A web producer also posted "some helpful links" to AtlantaTeaParty.net and TaxDayTeaParty.com.
The following are examples of Hannity promoting or discussing the protests on Hannity:
- On April 7, Hannity said: "And don't forget, you can log on to our website to get all the details one week from tomorrow, our special, 'Tax Day Tea Party' show. You can attend. It's live. It's in Atlanta. Joe the Plumber and John Rich and Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee and [radio host] Neal Boortz and [radio hosts] Rick and Bubba. It's all coming up April 15th. Tax Day, or we call it Tim Geithner Day." Hannity later said: "And of course, April 15, our big show coming out of Atlanta. It's tax day, our 'Tax Day Tea Party' show. Don't forget, we're going to have Joe the Plumber. We're going to have John Rich performing, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Neal Boortz, [Fox News correspondent] Ainsley Earhardt, Rick and Bubba. April 15, in Atlanta, the gold dome, the capital. You can come, and it's free."
- On April 6, Hannity said: "And log on to our Web site, by the way, and get all the details about our special 'Tax Day Tea Party' show that's going to be live in Atlanta and you can come on April 15th. Hope you'll join us." Later, Hannity said: "On April 15, it's our two-party tax day show. And I'll be hosting from Atlanta, Georgia, where one of the dozens of tea protests will be going on that evening. And you can send us your 'Tax Day Tea Party' videos, by the way. Film it, save it to your video -- the computer. Download it to us. And for more information, go to my Web site, Hannity.com, or FOXnews.com/Hannity."
- On April 3, Hannity said: "And also log on to our Web site to get all the details about our special 'Tax Day Tea Party.' We're going to be live in Atlanta, April 15th. [Former Arkansas] Governor [and Fox News host Mike] Huckabee [R], by the way, will be on that show." Hannity also said during the program: "And then it's April 15, it's our tea party tax day show. And I'll be hosting the show from Atlanta, where one of dozens of tea party protests are going to be going on that evening. So we hope you'll join us."
- On April 2, Hannity said: "And don't forget to log on to our website to get all the details about our special 'Tax Day Tea Party' show. That's live in Atlanta. It's on April 15th. John Rich will be there and many more, details coming up." Hannity later said: "On April 15, we we'll be broadcasting from a tea party in Atlanta. I will be there in Atlanta, where one of the dozens of tea parties around the country will be going on. And we hope you'll be watching."
- During the April 1 edition of his show, Hannity said:
And tonight in "Your America" Americans are not happy with the skyrocketing tax rates. Now just yesterday, 500 people stormed the Iowa House as Democrats there unveiled a plan to raise taxes and the country's widespread unhappiness also explains why tea parties are being held across the country.
By the way, on that note, don't forget, on tax day, April 15th, Tim Geithner Day, this show will air from the "Tax Day Tea Party" in Atlanta, Georgia, and we'll also be checking in with other tea parties all across the country.
Hannity further stated on April 1:
And then on April 15, it will be our tea party show. It's tax day, or as we refer to it here on this program, Tim Geithner Day. And I'll be hosting the show from Atlanta, where one of the dozens of tea party protests are going to be going on that evening. And we also want you to send us your tax day party video messages. And we may play some of them during the show and post them on the "Great American Blog." All you have to do is film your own video, save it to computer, and you can easily upload it on our Web site by clicking on the "send us your video" link.
- On March 31, Hannity said: "By the way, we're putting together that special 'Tax Day Tea Party' show on April 15th. I will be hosting the show from Atlanta, where one of the dozens of tea party protests will be going on that evening and we'll give you the details on how you can join us." Hannity later said: "And on April 15, we're going to be at the tea party in Atlanta, Georgia. We'll be hosting the show from there, where one of dozens of tea parties and protests are going on around the country that evening. You don't want to miss it."
- On March 30, Hannity said: "I think Americans tonight should be frightened, and that's why we're going to have a special tea party in Atlanta on April 15th. We're going to give you more details later here. Spending trillions of dollars." He later said:
And by the way, don't forget. We are putting together a very special "Tax Day Tea Party." It's all happening on April 15th. I will be hosting this show from Atlanta where one of the dozens of the tea party protests will be going on that evening.
Now we also want to -- if you want to send us your "Tax Day Tea Party" video to air during the show, we're going to tell you how. Make sure you check out the "Great American Blog" at FOXNews.com/Hannity. We have those details and you can join us, April 15th. By the way, we're calling it "Tim Geithner Day."
Hannity later added:
Now, before we go, we want to give you another reminder about our very special Tax Day show. It's all happening on Tim Geithner Day, April 15. I'm going to be hosting the show from Atlanta, Georgia, my old stomping grounds, where one of the dozens of tea party protests will going on around the country.
Now, we also want you to send us Tax Day Party video messages. And we're going to be playing them during the show and also post them on the "Great American Blog." So you can be a TV star also.
- On March 27, Hannity said: "On April 15 which of course is tax day, I'll be hosting this show from Atlanta, Georgia, where one of the dozens of tea party protests will be going on. That evening we'll also have coverage from other protests around the country and we're going to be given more details about how you can participate in the days to come. So stay tuned. Check out our website." Hannity later said:
And before you go, just another reminder about our tax day show. April 15. I will be hosting from Atlanta, Georgia, where one of the dozens of tea party protests are going to be taking place that evening. We'll have more details, how you can participate if you're in Atlanta. Stay tuned. Also, listen to News Talk 750 WSB and we'll have the details there.
- On March 23, Hannity said to radio talk-show host Mark Levin:
HANNITY: You -- we now see popping up all over the country these tea parties and people angry. They've lost a lot of their money, and there's bailout mania fatigue here. You have a call to action here, and that is that it's going to be conservatives who lacked the confidence and persistence to deal with statism, but you also have a call to action towards the end of the book when you lay out your manifesto.
HANNITY: And the call to action is conservatives have got to be shrewder, smarter. They've got to be engaged, they tend to, you know, live and let live as you say. So if people want to counter Barack Obama's European socialism, they must what?
- On March 12, Fox News host and former Rep. John Kasich (R-OH) said: "You know, you save, you live within your budget and you have -- the government has no right to punish you for doing it, and that's getting people worked up. That's why there are tea parties all over this country that are coming from the grass roots up, not driven by Sean, Rush, or anybody else. It's just happening."
Beck has frequently promoted "Tea Party" protests and hosted organizers of at least four tea party events. While discussing the protests, Beck has said that he hoped the parties wouldn't become "just Republican rallies or anti-Obama rallies" and that "[t]his isn't about parties or politics or the president."
On April 7, Beck said:
Also, we're getting ready for next week's Tax Day tea parties across the party. People that come together to let the politicians know, "OK. enough spending." We're taking the show on the road next Wednesday. We will be live from the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. This isn't about parties or politics or the president; just standing together for principles.
Celebrate Tax Day probably for the first time in your life and say enough is enough. We start with Your World with Neil Cavuto. He will be in Sacramento, California, 4 p.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific. We're going to be then live from the Alamo.
Can I say who is coming? Ted Nugent called me today and said, "Hey, can play the "The Star Spangled Banner? Can I come?" So I'm going to talk of the Tea Party. But he'll also join us for a few minutes on the TV show.
Then also Hannity will be in Atlanta from 9 p.m. That is going to be one incredible tea party if you are anywhere in the Atlanta area. And Greta wraps things up, Washington D.C. 10 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Pacific. Don't miss it.
While Beck spoke, the following graphics appeared on-screen:
During the April 6 edition of his show, Beck said:
This year, Americans across the country are holding tea parties to let politicians know that we've had enough. Celebrate with Fox News. This is what we're doing next Wednesday. Fox News with -- Your World with Neil Cavuto is going to be live in Sacramento, California, at 4 p.m. That's 1 p.m. Eastern -- 4 p.m. Eastern, 1 p.m. Pacific.
Our show is going to be at the Alamo at our regular time. Then Hannity will be in Atlanta, Georgia, at 9 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific. And then Greta is live in Washington, D.C., 10 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Pacific time.
If you can't make the one in San Antonio, please go to the one with Neil or with Sean in Atlanta. That's supposed to be great. Greta is in Washington, D.C. Just get out and let your face be seen and connect with other people.
We want to be with you and your tea party. If you have a tea party anywhere that -- we're not covering one of those, email me at email@example.com. We may cover your tea party live on April 15.
During the April 2 edition of his show, Beck said: "Tax Day, two weeks away. All right. More Americans are fed up with the nonsense in Washington both left and right. They are holding tea parties on April 15th. In this show, I can now announce that we're going to have our program live from the only place in America where I think it really, really makes sense - the Alamo. Plant your flag, America. It's in San Antonio, Texas. We will see you there on Tax Day!"
On April 1, Beck hosted Bill Hennessy, the organizer of the St. Louis protest, which Beck said "is expecting up to 5,000 people now." During the segment, Hennessy claimed: "We're not affiliated with any party. We're Americans' fiscal conservatives. ... [Y]ou know, we probably lean toward one party more than the other. But no, I'm not associated with either of the parties really."
On March 31, Beck hosted Richard Behney, who Beck said was the "organizer in Indianapolis of the tea party there, which is expecting more than 8,000 people on April 15." Beck later stated in the interview that he "fear[ed] that these tea parties, if they become just Republican rallies or anti-Obama rallies, they have completely missed the point. Because the Republicans sold America out just as much as the Democrats have." Beck asked Behney why he got involved with the protests and Behney replied:
BEHNEY: Hey, for me, personally, it had to be during the Joe the Plumber debacle. That hit home. I mean, I'm small-business owner. I'm living his dream. I started a small plumbing company with nothing, from nothing. And to work -- I mean, literally working my butt off. I literally have no butt here. To provide better for my family and for my employees' families. And to hear that a segment of our society and our politicians want to come in and take everything away and spread it around, that's when I said, "Enough."
On March 30, Beck hosted Felicia Cravens, the organizer of the Houston tea party. During the segment, Cravens stated she was a Republican but said, "Republicans are just as guilty." From the segment:
BECK: OK. Why are you doing it? Wait a minute. You just joined into the Republican Party? So do you believe -
CRAVENS: A couple of years ago.
BECK: OK. Do you believe the Republican Party is not part of this problem?
CRAVENS: Oh, au contraire. No way. I have worked locally to try to get the Republican Party to really pay attention to the messages that the spending bills are out of control. Republicans are just as guilty. We've done both ends of the spectrum finding people who are guilty.
BECK: OK. Felicia, this is what - you know, I'm looking for a rally that I'm going to attend. And I'm looking for the rallies that - because, to me, if they become about partisan politics, they're a waste of time.
On March 27, Beck said: "On April 15, Tax Day, there are going to be tea parties all across the country and this program wants to be part of it. Check out this invitation from Texas. Watch this." Beck then played a video invitation for a tea party in Texas.
On March 24, Beck said: "I have been telling you for weeks that you've got to stand up. And a lot of people around the country are doing these tea party things. But please, make them about principles, not about the parties. Make them about the principles." Beck then hosted Lisa Feroli and Shelly Ferguson, who organized a tea party in Orlando, Florida.
On March 23, Beck said: "Here is video from Saturday's tea party held in Orlando, Florida. It was -- I saw one report when I was down in Florida, there -- oh, there were hundreds of people there. There were like 5,000 people there and this is not the only tea party this weekend."
On March 20, Beck said:
BECK: I don't know if you missed the program yesterday, but if you supported Ron Paul for president last year, or a third-party candidate, law enforcement is now maybe on the lookout for you.
A new government study was just conducted to help authorities identify domestic terrorists. It warns that militia members most commonly associate with third-party political groups. Oh, so you're cool if you vote for the Republicans or the Democrats.
But if you're concerned about the government, you're considered dangerous now in America. More than 160,000 Americans have already signed up to be part of our 9/12 Project, "912project.com," since we launched it a week ago -- 163,000 people have signed up. Who are these people? They're people just like you that are just concerned about our government and they're concerned about our country.
You know, are they militia members? Yes. Yes, sure they are, along with all the other people that are now on the tea parties nationwide. There is one here in Orlando, Florida. Tomorrow is supposed to be huge.
On March 18, Beck said: "Barack Obama is on Jay Leno tomorrow. That's the first time a president has ever done that. He knows they've got to get massively populist here, because things are starting to shake apart. I mean, I don't know if you saw the Drudge Report today, but there's all kind of story there on the Democrats are starting to back away from him. People are starting to get angry. These tea parties are starting to really take off. I mean, and I think what these guys are doing in Washington is whipping up mob rule."
On March 16, Beck said: "[T]here are a lot of people in Cincinnati this weekend. There were about 5,000 people that had a tea party and many of them were holding signs that said, 'we surround them, we're not alone.' That is the mantra."
On April 7, Cavuto began his show by claiming: "Only eight days before a nationwide tea party, some over-caffeinated crashers aiming to lay waste to it. Reports of very well organized infiltrators trying to mix in and rain on this [tea party] parade. Well talk about taxing. But talk about prepared." Cavuto then hosted protest organizers John O'Hara and Mark Meckler. During the segment, Meckler said: "We invite everybody to come to our events. We don't care if they are from ACORN, The Huffington Post, or the Daily Kos."
Meckler later said of Fox News:
MECKLER: Thanks to your coverage, Neil, you're doing such an incredible job and all the Fox there and folks, what you guys are doing, the people understand what these movements are about. The people who are involved understand that they're not racist, they're not fringe, they're not even partisan. I mean, these events we've got people across the board -- Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, libertarians. You name it, everyone's coming out to these events. So the people who are going to be there actually know what's going on. We count on organizations like Fox to tell the truth about what's going on. We know you guys are fair and balanced. And so we know the real word is going to get out there. We're not worried about these folks polluting the events.
At the end of the segment, Cavuto said of Fox News' coverage of the protests:
CAVUTO: We'll continue covering this because, guys, here at Fox our view is very simple on this stuff, we don't pick and choose what events we cover. If this has a magnitude and a populous support that this does, just as a Million Man March, or a march on Washington, this is big. And on April 15, it will be very big. And in Sacramento it will be so big that we figure we should be there to monitor it. To watch it. And to see thousands of people converge on the statehouse, demanding accountability, not only from the statehouse but from the federal government. We are going to be watching it very closely.
On April 6, Cavuto said: "By the way, this tea party movement that's going against largesse, it is growing. And folks are fed up with out-of-control spending. To that end, we are going to be broadcasting live from one of the biggest of these rallies on April 15, Tax Day. We are at California's state capitol in Sacramento. This is the epicenter of this tax revolt beast, if you will." While Cavuto spoke, the following graphic appeared on-screen:
On March 31, Cavuto hosted Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-SC) to discuss the TEA Act. According to a March 31 Barrett press release, the legislation "was inspired by the more than two hundred modern day Tea Party protests being held around the country." During the interview, Barrett referenced the tea parties:
BARRETT: I mean, you have seen what has happened across the country. In Greenville, South Carolina, a couple of weeks ago, 2,000 people were a part of a tea party; in Cincinnati, Ohio, 4,000 people.
I mean, we are telling people to send tea bags into the federal government, to their legislators, and say, look, this is serious. We have had enough -- thus, the name tea party, because I will tell you, when you have got the American people behind you, that is a pretty strong friend.
CAVUTO: Congressman, thank you very much. We will watch it very closely.
On March 25, Baier reported on the tea parties by stating that they're "grassroots protests of wasteful government spending in general and of President Obama's stimulus package and his budget." Baier noted the URL of TaxDayTeaParty.com and stated that the protests have been "largely ignored by the mainstream media." From the program:
BAIER: We've also reported before about the grassroots protests of wasteful government spending in general and of President Obama's stimulus package and his budget in particular that are really sweeping the nation.
Here's the latest. Modern day tea parties continue to draw crowds around the country. In Orlando, Florida, this weekend, 4,000 showed up with signs ranging from "Don't tax me, bro" to "TEA," as in "taxed enough already."
There were also tea parties this weekend at Raleigh, North Carolina, Lexington, Kentucky, Ridgefield, Connecticut, and Salomon's Island, Maryland.
One group, taxdayteaparty.com is helping to organize events and says more than 250 locations in all 50 states and will hold rallies on April 15.
The events so far have been largely ignored by the mainstream media prompting the "Investor's Business Daily" Editorial Board to write "The real reason the major media aren't interested in these protests is that they don't agree with them."
On March 16, Baier noted a protest in Cincinnati and said it was "a grassroots protest of wasteful government spending in general, and President Obama's stimulus package and budget in particular." From the program:
BAIER: Police in Cincinnati say at least 4,000 people showed up Sunday for a grassroots protest of wasteful government spending in general, and President Obama's stimulus package and budget in particular. It was one of many tea party protests around the country inspired by the Revolutionary War era Boston tea party protesting British taxation.
Protestors had signs reading "Give us liberty, not death," and "Where's my bailout?" One report states there were 150 tea parties scheduled across the nation in the upcoming months.
Events so far have been largely ignored by the mainstream media, but several blogs are tracking them. The conservative "News Busters" writes on the coverage so far, quote, "Compare that to these networks practically fell all over themselves to report war protests after the public's opinion changed concerning Iraq in late 2003."
During Special Report, Baier did not note Fox News' own role in promoting the tea parties.
On March 24, while discussing Obama's news conference that night, Fox News contributor Karl Rove said:
ROVE: But what really matters is the average American -- assuming there were average Americans watching this tonight and who stuck through the thing -- when they saw [CBS News chief White House correspondent] Chip Reid ask a tough question about, "You say you don't want to pass on problems to the future. Well, what about your huge deficits in your budget?" And they hear Barack Obama's nonresponse response, they're going to draw conclusions.
There is a reason why anger is growing in this country. There is a reason why people are holding spontaneous tea parties. There is a reason why we hear all around -- I suspect you hear the same thing I do in your travels. People are getting very concerned and anxious and in some instances angry about the future of the country.
On March 16, O'Reilly said: " 'Check' one, big government spending protests are taking place all over the country. The latest in Cincinnati where about 5,000 folks showed up, showed their displeasure with the Obama's administration money strategy. These gatherings are being dubbed tea parties. We expect to see a lot more of them."
On April 1, Van Susteren hosted Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich, who predicted the protests would have "much bigger numbers than [the protests] in London":
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of the demonstrations, the protests in London? And there have been other protests about various economies around the world - France, Germany. What about the protests today?
GINGRICH: I got a note from a friend of mine in Orlando who pointed out there were more people at a taxpayer tea party in Orlando a week ago than they are in London. They just didn't get any coverage out of the media.
There were more people recently in Cincinnati at a taxpayer tea party than there have been demonstrating in London.
But the London demonstrators are breaking windows, they're being violent, and, you know, the media is always happy to cover the anarchic and violent left.
But the peaceful taxpayers of this country are actually turning out for these tea parties, and I predict on April 15 will turn out even more, in much bigger numbers than they are in London.
Later in the program, Van Susteren asked Gingrich, "[T]hese tea parties that are coming up, what exactly are they, and what do you expect the impact to be?" Gingrich replied:
Well, I think if you go to places like taxdayteaparty.com, or you go to Americansolutions.com, you'll see that all across the country there are people who are actively angry about taxes, about borrowing and spending, about the size of government.
And this kind of sprang up almost unexpectedly over the last two months in a spontaneous effort around the country. I think there were 15,000, for example, in Orange County the other night at one of these tea parties.
I think what you'll see on April 15, which is tax day, is lots of people in many places -- I'm going to be, for example, in New York City at the city hall, where I think we're going to have several thousand people there.
And essentially what I think they're going to be saying is that they don't want to see this budget passed. They don't want to see their taxes go up. They don't want to see huge borrowing. And they don't want to see the inevitable inflation and high interest rates that that's going to lead to.
So I think you're beginning to see the mobilization of citizens who want to take their own government back, and who don't believe that a big government, big bureaucracy, high-tax solution will work for America.
I think it's going to be a nationwide movement. I think there will be a lot of people involved in tax day tea parties all over the country.
On March 27, Gingrich said that every member of Congress should "have the courage to go to a tea party in your state or your district and listen to your citizens":
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the tea parties that they're having around the nation -- April 15, a number of states are going to have tea parties -- that just sort of a passing fancy, or is that a grass-roots movement?
GINGRICH: No, I think the tax day tea party movement, which is actually Americansolutions.com, is helping with a great deal. Over 300 cities have people signed up already. And I think these tea parties -- remember, the House and the Senate will pass the first round of a really bad budget next week. They will then go home for two weeks. These tea parties come right in the middle of that congressional recess.
And my challenge is, to every member of the House and Senate, have the courage to go to a tea party in your state or your district and listen to your citizens. My prediction is there'll be over 300,000 Americans at the tea parties, and I think it's the beginning of a huge movement of fundamental reform not just for Washington but for places like Albany, New York, Sacramento, California, Trenton, New Jersey, all the places where the lobbyists, the politicians and the bureaucrats have been running over their citizens.
On March 23, Van Susteren discussed a protest in Orlando and noted that protestors held signs that read, "Repeal the pork or our bacon is cooked" and, "Obama lied, liberty died." From the program:
VAN SUSTEREN: Some people are steaming. Another grass-roots conservative tea party has sprung up. Eight days ago in Cincinnati, this time, Orlando.
Over the weekend more than 4,000 people gathered in a park in Orlando to show their outrage at the federal government. Protesters held signs that read "Repeal the pork or our bacon is cooked," and "Obama lied, liberty died."
Several speakers addressed the crowd about gun rights, freedom of speech, and, of course, the economy.
Incidentally, a statewide tea party is planned for April 15 in West Virginia.
On March 5, Gingrich said: "I think the American people are sick and tired of the Appropriations Committee members of both parties in ripping off the rest of us, sticking stuff in there that is indefensible, ramming it through with no time to read it, and arrogantly walking over every taxpayer in this country. And I think any politician who thinks these issues are small is going to be surprised with the taxpayer tea parties on April 15th and the solution parties we're doing, American solutions, and the number of people around this country who are fed up with being taken for granted and being told, 'Pay your taxes and shut up. I will decide where the pork grows.' "
On February 27, Van Susteren said: "But first, protests across the United States. 'Tea party' protests are erupting across the country. Angry taxpayers, or at least some of them, are taking to the streets in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party. People are protesting President Obama's massive $787 billion stimulus bill, his $3.55 trillion budget and a federal government that has been ballooning by the day since the president took office." Van Susteren then played video from the protests and discussed them with Wall Street Journal senior economics writer Stephen Moore.
Fox & Friends
On March 25, Fox & Friends interviewed Lisa Feroli and Shelly Ferguson, two organizers of the Orlando protest. At the conclusion of the interview, co-host Gretchen Carlson stated: "[H]ats off to both of you for getting involved and for speaking what your mind is and what you think. We'll follow your programs down there, and if you have another protest, we'll be there."
The Fox Nation
Additionally, Fox News' new website, The Fox Nation, has posted numerous links discussing and promoting the protests. One link, headlined, "Find a Tea Party!" links to results from Google Maps of "2009 Tea Parties." Another link, headlined, "Video: The Trillion Dollar Tea Party Video!" is an embedded YouTube video on Fox Nation's website from the Tampa Bay Area Tea Party explaining why you should "join your local tea party." The five-minute video makes frequent references to Obama's fiscal policies and includes a clip of Obama during a presidential primary debate.
- Fox News Channel