Accuracy in Media

Are we all Tea Partiers now?

Now that the election is behind us, and the GOP picked up more than 60 House seats and at least a half dozen senators, not to mention a swing their way of about 20 state legislatures and 10 governorships, is Tea Party Power gaining acceptance? MSNBC’s irascible Chris Matthews sounded like one during election night coverage and the following morning. Well, at least part of the time.

On election night his frustration with the Democrats started leaking out:

“This government needs to start doing things. Democrats tend to be the governing party. Well you better damn well be good at government. That’s what your party’s good at. They believe in government, the Republican Party doesn’t. So if you believe in something, you’ve got to prove its effectiveness. And I don’t think this president has done that yet. I think there’s been too much ‘Gee whiz, I go up to the Hill and let them put together something called a stimulus bill. Throw together what everybody wants. Cats and dogs, let Opie do it, and nobody says what’s actually real about it. Something you can look around the [corner], Oh, there it is. There’s the job creation program. Ya’ know, it’s not there.”

The morning after, seemingly a sleepless night, Matthews continued that theme. He said that the Democrats need to explain to the American people that “you’re being conscious of how you’re spending their money, and you’re not just throwing it out the window with something called stimulus. Just wasting their money. Number two, protect the budget and protect the border. These are the basics of what a country is. If you can’t protect your budget, you’re not a government; if you can’t protect your border, you’re not a country. They’re not doing the basics. That’s why the middle of the road is moving to the right. They don’t trust the progressives to do the job of government, which is prudent control of the budget and reasonable responsibility of the border. They’re not doing either. These are so fundamental. People don’t trust the government any more. It’s simple. And the Democrats say it’s so complicated. It’s atmospherics. No, it’s a failure to meet your basic responsibilities. And that’s the problem of the leadership of the Congress…Does anybody really trust right now the leadership of the Democratic Party in Congress to deal with either of these issues responsibly? The public doesn’t. They don’t trust them. And that’s why they lost yesterday.” (Chuck Todd confirmed that the polls show that 70% agree with that).  Wow! For a few minutes, Matthews stated the case that the Tea Partiers have been making for nearly two years.

At other times he reverted to his “thrill up my leg” self, and calling the Republicans “the white boys club.” And on “Morning Joe,” Matthews came on the morning after the election and said, after mention was made of Marco Rubio’s huge victory for senator in Florida that, “I think it’s great that your party has one minority group,” and cackled in Matthews inimitable style.  In fact, one of the most underreported stories of this election was the number of ethnic minorities who ran as Republicans. There were 14 black Republicans who ran for House seats on Tuesday, and two of them won. They were the first to win in their respective states, Florida and South Carolina, since the 1870s. Indian-American Nikki Haley became governor of South Carolina, and Latinos won the governorship in New Mexico and Nevada, where Brian Sandoval defeated Harry Reid’s son, who campaigned for the most part without using his family name. Susana Martinez won the governorship of New Mexico. Three Latino Republicans won seats in Congress, while opposing comprehensive immigration reform, and coming mostly from majority white districts.

The weekend before the election, ABC News did a story highlighting the 14 blacks running for Congress as Republicans, but other than that, there was virtually no reporting on it. They wouldn’t want to shatter any stereotypes of the GOP as “the white boys club.”

Fox News vs. MSNBC

Then there was the issue of Fox News versus MSNBC. On Monday night, Keith Olbermann was sulking about Jon Stewart’s “Restore Sanity” speech at the end of his rally last weekend, in which he criticized both Fox and MSNBC for their partisanship, which contributes to the climate of incivility, according to Stewart (while of course his cable show does no such thing). Olbermann said, “Embedded in that message is an equivocation of the right-wing cable news network Fox and the one that’s on the left, this one, as if we’re each equidistant from sanity, each equally to blame for the division Stewart talks about.” Of course Olbermann meant to say “equating” rather than “equivocation,” but teleprompters can do that to you every now and then.

His guest was Jonathan Alter, and they were proudly boasting how they are a real news organization, and Fox just makes stuff up, and is in the tank for the Republicans. But if you watched both on election night, you would have seen an MSNBC line-up consisting of their weeknight primetime hosts (Schultz, Matthews, Olbermann, Maddow and McDonnell), plus Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, all of whom are at least as partisan for the Democrats as anyone on Fox is for the Republicans. Their contempt for the Republicans, especially the Tea Partiers, was oozing out. O’Donnell got livid after Rand Paul’s victory speech, and when Christine O’Donnell started her concession speech, Olbermann urged the audience to get some popcorn.

And on Fox, besides their regular hosts, they had Fox consultant Joe Trippi, who ran Howard Dean’s campaign for president, and current or former Democratic consultants Kirsten Powers, Doug Schoen, and Pat Caddell (who has clearly switched allegiances) along with Juan Williams, who just got booted from NPR.

Clearly, on election night 2010, there was much more balanced commentary coming from Fox than from MSNBC.

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