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] Claims of bias in media coverage
US News and World Report
reported that the nature of the coverage of the protests has become part of the story.
[/suP] On CNN's Situation Room, Journalist Howard Kurtz
commented that "much of the media seems to have chosen sides." He says that Fox News
portrayed the protests "as a big story, CNN
as a modest story, and MSNBC
as a great story to make fun of. And for most major newspapers, it's a nonstory."
[/suP] There are reports that the movement has been actively promoted by the Fox News Channel, indicating a possible media bias
Protesters walking towards the United States Capitol
during the Taxpayer March on Washington
, September 12, 2009.
Following the September 12 Taxpayer March on Washington
, Fox News
claimed it was the only cable news outlet to cover the emerging protests and took out full-page ads in The Washington Post
, the New York Post
, and The Wall Street Journal
with a prominent headline reading, "How did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN miss this story?" 
CNN news anchor Rick Sanchez
disputed Fox's claim pointing to various coverage of the event.
[/suP] CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CBS Radio News provided various forms of live coverage of the rally in Washington throughout the day on Saturday, including the lead story on CBS Evening News.
MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow said, "The unofficial Republican Party media outlet, Fox News Channel, has explicitly endorsed these events."
[/suP] Maddow's fellow commentator Keith Olbermann said, "Despite claiming neutrality on those policies and theteabag
movement itself, FOX has whipped up excitement for the parties, recruiting viewers to come out, guaranteeing huge outdoor gatherings, spilling into the streets, choking off traffic with all their teabagging
[/suP]On April 14, ABC World News
described the protests as "[c]heered on by Fox News and talk radio".
James Rainey of The Los Angeles Times
said MSNBC's attacks on the tea parties paled compared to Fox's support, but Olbermann, Maddow and Matthews were hardly subtle in disparaging the movement.
[/suP] Howard Kurtz
has said that, "These [FOX] hosts said little or nothing about the huge deficits run up by President Bush, but Barack Obama's budget and tax plans have driven them to tea. On the other hand, CNN and MSNBC may have dropped the ball by all but ignoring the protests."
] Astroturfing claims
Allegations of "astroturfing
" appeared in a Playboy
article by Mark Ames
and Yasha Levine in February 2009. The article was removed after libel claims, but no legal action materialized. The authors repeated and elaborated their allegations elsewhere—that the tea party protests were a "carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign . . ."
[/suP] On October 3, 2009, David H. Koch
said the tea party protests fulfilled "the vision" of the board of directors of the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity
when it was founded in 2004.
In a New York Times
op-ed column by economist Paul Krugman
, writing that "the tea parties don't represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They're AstroTurf
(fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey
On tax day April 15, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
stated "It's not really a grassroots movement. It's astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class."
According to Atlantic Monthly
, the three main groups that provide guidance and organization for the protests FreedomWorks
, andAmericans for Prosperity
state that the demonstrations are an organic movement.
[/suP] Law professor and commentator Glenn Reynolds
, best known as author of the Instapundit
political blog, argued in The New York Post
that: "These aren't the usual semiprofessional protesters who attend antiwar and pro-union marches. These are people with real jobs; most have never attended a protest march before. They represent a kind of energy that our politics hasn't seen lately, and an influx of new activists."
[/suP] Conservative political strategist Tim Phillips
, now head of Americans for Prosperity
, has remarked that the Republican Party is "too disorganized and unsure of itself to pull this off."
] Reports of inappropriate incidents
Various politicians, political commentators and columnists have called critics of Obama's health care reform racist.
[/suP] This has included assertions that the color of Obama's skin is behind the opposition to his policies.
[/suP] The White House has downplayed the accusations and said that the President does not believe he is being criticized because of his race.
[/suP] About 61 percent of tea party opponents say racism has a lot to do with the movement, a view held by just 7 percent of tea party supporters.
[/suP] Some Tea Partiers blame the media for casting them as racists.
[/suP] Allen West
, one of 32 African-Americans who are running for Congress in 2010 as Republicans, says the notion of racism in the Tea Party movement has been made up by the news media.
On March 20, 2010, before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Bill
was voted on in Washington D.C.
, it was reported that protesters against the bill used racial and homophobic slurs. Several black
lawmakers said that demonstrators shouted "the N-word
" at them.
[/suP] Congressman Emanuel Cleaver
said he was spat upon, and Congressman Barney Frank
, who is gay, was called a "faggot
[/suP] Representative André Carson
said that as he walked from the Cannon House Office Building
with Representative John Lewis
, amid chants of "Kill the bill" he heard the "n - word at least 15 times".
[/suP]One man "just rattled it off several times." Carson quoted Lewis as saying, "You know, this reminds me of a different time."
[/suP] Economist and prominent black conservative Thomas Sowell
told the Washington Post, "This is a serious charge -- and one deserving of some serious evidence," Sowell said. "But, despite all the media recording devices on the scene, not to mention recording devices among the crowd gathered there, nobody can come up with a single recorded sound to back up that incendiary charge. Worse yet, some people have claimed that even doubting the charge suggests that you are a racist."
[/suP] The National Tea Party Federation sent a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus
(CBC) denouncing racism and requesting that the CBC supply any evidence of the alleged events at the protest on March 20, 2010.
On March 21, 2010, Springboro Tea Party founder, Sonny Thomas, posted racist slurs against Hispanics on the group's Twitter
webpage, including one post that said, "Illegals everywhere today! So many spics makes me feel like a speck. Grrr. Wheres my gun!?". The posts triggered cancellations by several local and statewide political candidates scheduled to speak at a Springboro Tea Party rally on April 17. Other Tea Party officials say the posts were "classless" and way out of line, but say they don't represent the Tea Party movement as a whole.
On March 22, 2010, a Lynchburg, Virginia
Tea Party activist, attempting to post the home address of Congressman Tom Perriello
on his blog, incorrectly posted the address of Perriello’s brother, who also lives in Virginia, and encouraged readers to "drop by" to express their anger against Rep. Perriello’s vote in favor of the health care bill. The following day, a severed gas line was discovered in Perriello's brother's yard which connected to a propane grill
on the home’s screened-in porch. Local police and FBI investigators determined that it was intentionally cut as a deliberate act of vandalism. The website issued a response saying the Tea Party member's action of posting the address "was not requested, sanctioned or endorsed" by the group.
Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams
referred to the Muslim god as a "Monkey God". Williams' comments elicited strong rebukes from New York City Mayor Bloomberg, NY State Senators and Muslim leaders. In a subsequent blog posting, Williams said, “I owe an apology,” he wrote on his blog, “to millions of Hindus who worship Lord Hanuman, an actual Monkey God. Hanuman is worshiped as a symbol of perseverance, strength, and devotion ... Those are hardly the traits of whatever the Hell (literally) it is that terrorists worship.” When questioned by the Washington Post about his outrageous comments about Islam and Obama, Williams has claimed the controversy has "been fantastic for the movement." 
April 15, 2009 protest in Hartford, Connecticut
. Sign mocking Washington D.C.
lawmakers using double entendre
of "tea bag
] Use of term teabagger
Look up teabagger
, the free dictionary.
The term, teabagger
, emerged after protesters displayed placards using the words "tea bag" as a verb,
[/suP] mixing the sexual meaning (teabagging
) with "Mailing Tea Bags to Washington, DC" in protest.
[/suP] The label has prompted additional puns
by both commentators and protesters
[/suP] based on pre-existing sexual meaning of the word. Tea Party activists have stated that they find the term to be dismissive and insulting.
Amy Kremer, the leader of the Tea Party Express, has argued that the term "teabagger", used in reference to Tea Party Movement supporters, is as insulting as the n-word
. This analogy was criticized in a column by Boyce Watkins
; Watkins said that he did not agree with this analogy or the Tea Party Movement's political views in general, but did acknowledge that Tea Party supporters were being patriotic by exercising their right to freedom of speech
] Marvel Comics
In February 2010, an outcry from Tea Party activists erupted when a Tea Party protest sign, based on a photo
[/suP] taken by journalist David Weigel
, was added to a comic panel proclaiming, "Tea Bag the Libs before they tea bag you!" in an issue of Captain America
[/suP] The comic drew criticism from Tea Party leaders, and Marvel Comics editor Joe Quesada
later apologized for specifically identifying characters as associated with the Tea Party movement. Quesada said the edition will be changed in further printings and the trade paperback.