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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Tea Party, Chris Matthews And 'The Rise of the New Right'

Evidently Chris Matthews has been promoting a new show called "The Rise of the New Right", which from what I have been reading, is meant to portray the Tea Party as some type of far leaning extremist movement.

Members of the Tea Party and Freedomworks have taken offense to Matthews bid for publicity and attention and are asking their members to boycott the show's advertisers.

It is all explained over at Wapo's Right Now site.

The problem, as I see it for Matthews and MSNBC at this point, is that according to all the latest information regarding the Tea Party as well as the polling on group name recognition, Americans that are either are part of or know someone that is part of the Tea Party movement and/or hold a favorable view of the Tea Party and a plurality has no opinion yet.

Gallup conducted a poll and found that surveying Tea Party member's age, educational background, employment status, and race- Tea Party members are generally representative "of the public at large."

According to a CNN poll, "One-third of Americans have a favorable view of the Tea Party movement, but a plurality has no opinion at all."

For a movement less than 2 years old, those numbers are pretty impressive considering the media, like Matthews, has done their level best to portray Tea Party members as extremists.

The breakdown:

According to the survey, Democrats by a 2-to-1 margin have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party movement; Republicans like it by a 3-to-1 margin. Among independents, 35 percent of independents holding a positive view and 24 percent a negative view.

As the Tea Party grows and continues to get publicity, good or bad, more of the American public will form an opinion and those that bypass what the media has told them to think and actively investigate the movement, some surprising results are found.

For example: In April, CNN Political Producer, Shannon Travis, followed the Tea Party tour in a trip across the country and came away with a different story than what traditional media, including CNN in the majority of it's coverage, has been pushing.

Here's what you often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: offensive posters blasting President Obama and Democratic leaders; racist rhetoric spewed from what seems to be a largely white, male audience; and angry protesters rallying around the Constitution.

What did CNN Political Producer, Shannon Travis discover?

But here's what you don't often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: Patriotic signs professing a love for country; mothers and fathers with their children; African-Americans proudly participating; and senior citizens bopping to a hip-hop rapper.

That is not all that was discovered, the story continues:

CNN was the only national news outlet on this Western leg of the tour. We had a full team on the ground: myself, correspondent Ed Lavandera, producers Tracy Sabo and Jim Spellman and the crew of the CNN Express bus. For Spellman, it was his third Tea Party Express tour.

Together, we beamed out images of the anger and the optimism, profiled African-Americans who are proud to be in the Tea Party's minority and showed activists stirred by "God Bless America" or amused by a young rapper who strung together rhymes against the president and Democrats.

The CNN Express traveled with the Tea Party Express buses for hundreds of miles, from rally to rally to rally.

Being at a Tea Party rally is not quite like seeing it on TV, in newspapers or online. That's the reason CNN is covering this political movement -- and doing so in ways few others can or choose to do.

It is important to show the colorful anger Americans might have against elected leaders and Washington. But people should also see the orange-vested Tea Party hospitality handlers who welcome you with colorful smiles.

There were a few signs that could be seen as offensive to African-Americans. But by and large, no one I spoke with or I heard from on stage said anything that was approaching racist.

Almost everyone I met was welcoming to this African-American television news producer.

And though speakers railed against the "lame-stream media," activists and their leaders praised CNN, especially for being the only national media outlet riding along for the post-weekend stops. Some of them e-mailed me after my trip, thanking our crew for fairly giving them a voice.

Funny how the media has no problem "reporting" impressions, yet Travis and crew were the only media that dug in and reported from the inside out, instead of trying to report from the outside in, and found Tea Partiers welcoming, friendly and completely different from the portrayal in traditional media.

As a side note to Matthews himself: The "Don't Tread On Me" flag (shown at the top of this post) is not scary, it is representative of a movement with people that believe Government should not control our healthcare decisions, should not interfere in our personal lives and a movement that believes that our elected officials should be representing what the people that elected them want instead of their own party interests.

If that scares you Chris Matthews, that says more about your lack of courage and basic comprehension of the Tea Party than it says about those that choose to display the flag.

I am going to give Jerry Remmers, columnist at TMV, the last word here:

I grew up in Orange County, Calif., a Republican bastion, and people like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle, the Republican Tea Party Senate nominee in Nevada, don’t scare me. They have a political philosophy I don’t adopt, but they are not threats to democracy as my liberal friends would like you to believe.

Sorry, Chris, your documentary failed to send shivers up my leg

Well said.