Given the fact that the Beltway press last week showered news coverage on a Washington, D.C. Tea party rally that attracted "dozens" of supporters, the same laundry list of news organizations will devote just as much time and energy covering Monday's much larger pro-labor rallies, right?
Labor groups, in collaboration with MoveOn.org, are sponsoring pro-union rallies across the country today. These events commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in Memphis, where the civil rights leader was rallying union workers, but they are also an attempt to further fuel the pro-union movement begun in Wisconsin.
Dubbed “We Are One,” the events are expected to draw thousands of supporters to hundreds of rallies.
But if tradition holds, these rallies will receive a fraction of the media coverage that the mainstream press routinely doles out for the Tea Party (whose events are notoriously under-attended) as well as other right-wing groups.
I'm convinced that if the Tea Party had brought a state capital to a month-long standstill the way union supporters did in Wisconsin, CNN, for instance, would have built an on-site studio and provided constant, around-the-clock coverage of the political drama. By comparison, CNN's Wisconsin coverage was often perfunctory and the cable news channel too often ignored the grassroots nature of that political uprising.
Here's a perfect example of the media double standard regarding political protests. Last month, union forces organized a rally in St. Louis drawing 4,500 people who spoke out against the anti-union initiatives being launched by various Republican governors. But as blogger Andrew Shriver noted, the local newspaper, The St. Post Dispatch, completely ignored the event even though same daily has routinely covered nearby Tea Party events that drew a fraction of the pro-union rally's turnout.
Last week, the press may have hit a new low with its out-sized coverage of the Tea Party's D.C, rally and its “dozens” of attendees. Monday's union rallies across the country provide the media with a chance to show that it treats grassroots movements on the left just as seriously as those on the right.