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Lie #3 that media tell about the Tea Party. [View All]

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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-01-14 09:15 AM
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Lie #3 that media tell about the Tea Party.
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Edited on Sat Feb-01-14 09:24 AM by No Elephants
Lie # 3: Teabaggers outnumber liberals.

Where, you ask, did I hear that lie? Fox News, no doubt?

Nope. PBS. Washington Week with Gwen Ifill, no less.

And therein lies a tale.

As of 2006, National Journal has an agreement with Washington Week which ensures that at least one National Journal reporter is on the show.<11>

In 2010, buyouts were offered to the entire magazine's staff. The magazine was relaunched in October, along with a new, free website.

Now, I imagine that money changed hands, maybe still changes hands, in order for Washington Week to bind itself to having "at least one member" of the National Journal's staff on its panel each week. And, when money changes hands, a conflict of interest is created, or a potential conflict, at the very least. Any responsible program would disclose the existence of a potential conflict, right? And PBS is nothing but a responsible network, right?

I tend not to watch TV, but to listen to TV while I do other things. So, I can't say if any notice about this agreement flashes on the screen while Washington Week is airing. I know I have never heard any mention of the agreement, or of any potential conflict. I checked the show's website this morning and saw no mention of this agreement or of any potential conflict.

I believe that, at one time, the National Journal leaned left. However, the Editor of the National Journal is Ron Fournier. Fournier used to be with AP when AP's stories about Washington D.C. leaned noticeably right. At some point during the administration of Dummya Bush, we learned of emails between "journalist" Fournier and Karl Rove, in which Fournier prayerfully urged Rove to "keep up the good fight." This 2004 email somehow came to light years later, during the investigation of the death of Pat Tillman. The revelation prompted left-leaning Media Matters to write, in 2008, an article entitled The AP has a Ron Fournier Problem.

Apparently, though, Fournier's biased brand of journalism has not changed. Indeed, his bias probably why the Journal hired him. (I am sure he is competent, but competent journalists abound. He was infamous for his lack of objectivity before the Journal hired him. Ergo, I have to conclude that he was hired, not only for his bias, but for his tendency to make it obvious, aka slanting.)

So, anyway, I was listening to Washington Week last night when I heard a woman say that bipartisan agrements between Democrats and Republicans in Washington created problems with their respective bases, or something to that effect.

The woman who said it focused initially on the Tea Party, but added briefly that the same was true of the Democrats and their liberal base, although that was smaller than the Tea Party and less disagreeable. ("Disagreeable" is my word. I don't remember the word that was actually used.)

To be fair, I believe the woman who made the comment was from Bloomberg, not from the National Journal.

Mind you, she did not say that conservatives outnumbered liberals. I believe most Republicans would self-identify as conservative. She said the teabaggers were a larger group than liberals. (I am sticking with how people self-identify, though, when polled on issues, most American give liberal responses. See )

No one on the panel raised any question about the statement that liberals were a smaller group than Teabaggers. I, however, found it difficult to believe that the US has more Teabaggers than liberals. So, I tried to do a little checking. I can't say I spent a lot of time on it, but finding numbers is not easy. Here's what I did find.

The Tea Party website says that its numbers have grown from a small group in 2004 to "tens of millions." /

However, this claim is not substantiated in any way and comes from a source with a great self interest in overestimating the number of Tea Party members. So, take that number with many grains of salt.

According to wiki, the Tea Party Caucus in the House is defunct. (This surprised even me.)

From July 2012 to April 2013 the Tea Party Caucus neither met nor posted news on its webpage, leading observers to describe it as "dead," "inactive," and "defunct."<15><16> In April 2013, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina filed paperwork to create a new Tea Party Caucus, but found that Michele Bachmann intended to continue the caucus, starting with an event on April 25.<17>

As of October 2013, the Tea Party Caucus and the similar Liberty Caucus are practically defunct.

Contradistinctively, the House Progressive Caucus has over 60 House members (down, sadly, from about 100 members in 2008, and therein hangs another tale, one of the Party under the leadership of President Obama and the DLCers who have headed the DNC since Obama gave Dean the boot, but that tale is not for this post). While membership has declined, the Progressive Caucus is far from defunct. /

Neither of the above caucuses tells us how many Americans are Teabaggers and how many are liberals. Still, I can't imagine why the Tea Party Caucus rose and fell so quickly. Or can I?

A 2010 article for PBS's News Hour is just about the only thing that a bit of googling brought me with actual numbers. As you know, the Senate passed Obamacare in December 2010 and the final version of the bill was passed by reconciliation in 2010 and signed into law March 2010.

The article says in part:

But how big are those groups really? The tea party protest on tax day in Washington, D.C., may have looked big on camera, but pan back, and you would have seen about 3,000 to 4,000 people in attendance. Thats hardly a groundswell.


The geographic snapshot: According to tea party member databases, there are roughly 67,000 members in counties across America, but the biggest producers of tea-party members in Patchwork Nation, per capita, are the Boom Town counties. These places experienced rapid growth around 2000 and the worst part of the housing crash that followed. /

I think 3-4000 at the demonstration is a very generous estimate. When the cameras pulled back that day, the group looked much smaller to me than that. But, 67,000 members across the entire country? In a nation with a population of aboout 350 million? Why was anyone even pretending a group that small was significant? (Why do they still pretend?)

"But, No Elephants," you say, "that was four years ago. Surely, the group has grown since then."

"Well," says I, "not necessarily. The Tea Party was much less popular in 2013 than it was in 2010. And it was even less popular near the end of 2013 than it was near the beginning of 2013."

(Rasmussen, January 2013: Only 8% of people polled said they were Tea Partiers, down from a high of 24% in 2010.) /

(Pew, October 2013: Tea Party less popular than it was in the spring of 2013)

So, how many Americans self-identify as liberals? That information did not come readily to hand. The issue is also complicated by the fact that both elected Republicans and elected Democrats have worked hard to discredit the word "liberal." It is also complicated by the fact that some left leaners self-identify as "liberal" and some self identify as "progressive." Still.....

While it is difficult to gather demographic information on ideological groups, recent surveys by the New York Times and CBS News, between 18% and 27% of American adults identify as liberal, versus moderate or conservative.<39> In the 2008 presidential election, exit polls showed that 22% of the electorate self-identified as "liberal."

Math was never my strong suit, but I am sure that 22% is greater than 8%. So, why, dear reader, did no one on Washington Week so much as blink when a panelist said that Tea Partiers outnumber liberals?

And, let's not forget the second part of the comment of the Washington Week panelist: Republicans have more problems with their base because liberals don't make as much of a fuss as do Teabaggers. So, my liberal friends who do outnumber Teabaggers, no matter what the meme is, maybe it's time you started making more of a fuss.

Of course, the panelist did not cite the third reason: the lies members of the media like her tell about Teabaggers.
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