Tea Party: Instantly Attacked by Old Media, Coffee Party: Immediate Respect from Old Media

by Warner Todd Huston | April 28, 2010 1:06 pm

Nothing says “media bias” like coffee in the morning.

If anyone ever wanted to see an example of the bias of the Old Media no better example can be found than the different ways that it has treated the tea party movement and the coffee party astroturf effort. The tea party movement was initially ignored, then it was ridiculed, then it was attacked as dangerous[1], but no where in the Old Media was it treated as a valid, powerful political movement despite the literally millions of Americans that have attended them.

On the other hand, the astroturf coffee party effort created by an Obama campaign staffer was treated as a viable, important effort from the second it was announced and all that quite despite the fact that no coffee party event seems to have been able to turn out more than 20 people at a time.

Let’s look at some numbers. Just from those first tax day tea party events (April 15, 2009) the number of participants topped *500,000. And since then there have been thousands of more tea party protests of all sorts sponsored by any number of local and national groups and they, too, have turned out thousands of participants. There have been tea party participants in the millions since April of 2009.

Of course, the Old Media has done its best to downplay the number of tea party protestors. Instead of detailing the actual numbers, the Old Media continues to use the nebulous phrase “hundreds of protestors,” or when the numbers are greater the dismissive “thousands of protestors.” An excellent example of this can be seen in the great Washington D.C. protest of September of 2009. Where the foreign press noted[2] that as many as a million flooded Washington D.C. on September 12, 2009, the American Old Media[3] insisted on using the less accurate phrase “tens of thousands.” When asked to quantify a million people no one would use the phrase “tens of thousands,” unless, of course, they were trying to diminish the amount.


Also since April of 2009, we have seen tea party groups begin a foray into local politics. From coast to coast tea party groups have been holding candidate forums, endorsing candidates, and proffering candidates from their own ranks. Now, as it is right now this moment, we are still at a nascent stage of these electoral efforts, so it is difficult to say what will come of it. But the fact is, they’ve begun at various levels from north to south and east to west.

On top of all of that, tea party events have been held in every state and have been seen to turn out hundreds and thousands even in liberal areas of the country. But have we seen even a begrudging respect for all this activism by the Old Media?

Sadly, even a year after this tea party movement began, a year after the energy and importance of this movement has been proven, a year after it has been seen to have produced an outpouring into the streets of millions of Americans that had never in their lives attended a protest — even with many of them never before having involved themselves in politics at all — we still have seen no respect for the tea partiers from the Old Media.

Here are just a tiny number of examples of the Old Media still attacking the tea partiers since 2009:

Of course, there are hundreds and hundreds more examples like this in every corner of the Old Media stretching from March of 2009 all the way to today. The Old Media has almost exclusively presented the tea party movement as fringe, dangerous, racist, yet ultimately unimportant. The Old Media has done its level best to undermine the tea party movement as much as possible, and continues to do so.

And then came the so-called coffee party effort. Just as Paul Krugman (among others) falsely claimed that the tea party movement was a fake, astroturf movement, they’ve treated the coffee party events differently by refusing to report it as the astroturf it is[11]. The coffee party was invented by Annabel Park, a member of Barack Obama’s political campaign.

These coffee party events created by an Obama operative have been held in many Democrat strong hold cities but far fewer Republican areas. Not only have the coffee party events been far, far fewer in number, they’ve also been sparsely attended. Almost no coffee party effort has fielded more than 20 attendees, a far cry from the hundreds, thousands and hundreds of thousands of attendees that have attended tea party events. Yet despite the paltry turnout, the Old Media has treated the coffee party events as equal in seriousness to the tea party.

For instance, Newsweek recently published a story with the absurd claim that 200,000 coffee party members[12] have turned out across the country. What is Newsweek’s proof that there are 200,000 members of the coffee party? Not attendance at events that’s for sure. No what was used as proof was the coffee party FaceBook page that shows that over 200,000 people “like” the page. 200,000 “likes” on FaceBook, however, does not translate into 200,000 members of the coffee party.

Since its debut a few months ago, this coffee party business has been treated quite well. Here are just a few of the laudatory stories on the coffee party effort:

The Old Media has bent over backwards to assist the coffee party effort, so far that one article even made excuses for why the coffee party events never seem to have more than 20 folks turn out to them. The Chicago Sun-Times group recently published a story[20] excusing the paltry numbers as somehow being done on purpose! Catch this falderal:

Coffee Parties are often kept intentionally small to facilitate conversation among members. The Naperville group, according to Harrington, typically sees about 10 members per meeting — the right size, he says, for making sure everybody is heard.

Oh, yeah, every grass roots political movement purposefully sets out to have as few people as possible catch the fever! Give me a break.

And let us remember that this coffee party astroturf effort to push Obama’s agenda has not resulted in any political momentum. Nearly universally the coffee party gatherings have featured about a dozen participants who get together and spin their wheels, all of whom then go home all ultimately to no effect. No candidates have claimed to be the “coffee party candidate,” no political candidates forums have been sponsored by coffee partiers and no candidates have stepped forth from the coffee party ranks. Additionally no large rallies have been held by coffee party groups to compete with the wild success of the tea party movement.

And yet the Old Media has treated the coffee party movement with the utmost respect and presented it as a viable opposing option to the tea party movement despite its paltry turn out and its nonexistent political influence all the while the millions of tea party members, their political candidates and influence is ignored, ridiculed and attacked by that same Old Media.

Yes, if there is no other example of the bias in the Old Media, this story does it.

*John M. O’Hara, “A New American Tea Party[21],” page 18.

(Originally posted at BigJournalism.com[22])

  1. it was attacked as dangerous: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/opinion/28rich.html
  2. foreign press noted: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1213056/Up-million-march-US-Capitol-protest-Obamas-spending-tea-party-demonstration.html
  3. American Old Media: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/12/taxpayer-march-on-washing_n_284477.html
  4. Tea parties are fake astroturf: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/13/opinion/13krugman.html
  5. Tea partiers are racists: http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/09/16/yes-its-racism-but-its-complicated/
  6. Tom Freidman says: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/opinion/30friedman.html?_r=3
  7. tea partiers are offensive: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/kyle-drennen/2010/04/14/msnbc-offensive-tea-party-sign-has-word-love-heart-symbol
  8. Tea parties are loud, mad, and dangerous: http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thegaggle/archive/2010/03/21/tea-party-protests-loud-mad-and-dangerous-for-republicans.aspx
  9. Tea Party filled with extremists: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TEA_PARTY_CONCERNS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2010-04-15-09-13-19
  10. Tea party is extreme right-wing: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/editorials/stories/2010/04/25/tea-party-hoping-to-steer-republicans-further-to-the-right.html?sid=101
  11. refusing to report it as the astroturf it is: http://bigjournalism.com/fross/2010/03/03/ny-times-washington-post-hide-phony-coffee-party-astroturf-roots-at-the-ny-times/
  12. 200,000 coffee party members: http://www.newsweek.com/id/236856
  13. Virginia coffee party outlines goals: http://www.nbc29.com/Global/story.asp?S=12289643
  14. Coffee party making politics civil: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6953382.html
  15. Coffee party big success in Belleville: http://www.bnd.com/2010/04/11/1211071/first-coffee-party-meeting-draws.html
  16. Is coffee party the next big thing?: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20000354-503544.html
  17. civic participation: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/us/politics/02coffee.html
  18. kinder and gentler: http://www.usnews.com/blogs/linda-killian/2010/03/15/meet-the-coffee-party-a-kinder-gentler-more-liberal-tea-party.html
  19. Why I started the coffee party: http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/03/18/park.coffee.party/index.html
  20. published a story: http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/2197564,6_1_NA25_COFFEE_S1-100425.article
  21. A New American Tea Party: http://www.amazon.com/New-American-Tea-Party-Counterrevolution/dp/0470567988
  22. BigJournalism.com: http://bigjournalism.com/wthuston/2010/04/27/a-tale-of-two-parties-would-you-like-coffee-or-tea-with-your-liberal-bias/

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