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Washington Post begins to dismantle "Tea Party is racism" meme

Last week, the Washington Post's Dave Weigel pointed out CNN's rather positive coverage of recent Tea Party events. CNN embedded their own Shannon Travis with the Tea Party Express as it cruised to rallies in Utah and Colorado. Travis reported:

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.

... 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.

... 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.

Weigel rightly noted that in the span of a year, CNN's coverage of the Tea Party has evolved from Susan Roesgen's infamous spat with Chicago Tea Partiers, to Shannon Travis' enjoyable experiences during the week he spent traveling with them.

And yesterday, Wa-Po ombudsman Andrew Alexander directly called for a more thorough investigation of the allegations by Reps. John Lewis, Emanuel Cleaver, and others that Tea Party protesters deliberately spat on and shouted racial slurs at Black Democrats as they arrived at the Capitol for the health care reform vote. Alexander also criticized his own paper for repeating allegations about Tea Party protesters (such as Rep. Andre Carson's claim that the "n-word" was shouted "15 times") without thoroughly investigating them first:

YouTube videos show the spitting incident took place as Cleaver and other black lawmakers passed through a gantlet of rowdy protesters on the steps outside the Cannon House Office Building. Amid booing and chants of "kill the bill," Cleaver is seen reacting as he passes screaming protesters. He turns, points an accusing finger and appears to chastise one, who is shouting nonstop. As he continues up the steps, Cleaver uses his hand to wipe a protester's saliva from his face.

Cleaver was hit with spit, but whether it was deliberate is very much in question. The video suggests he was unintentionally sprayed by the screaming protester. The distinction is significant because it fundamentally changes widespread media characterizations of what occurred. The Post and other news organizations left the impression of a despicable, premeditated assault. With videos of the incident so prevalent on liberal and conservative Web sites, and with the question being so widely raised in the blogosphere and on cable channels, The Post was remiss in not providing clarity by quickly dissecting what happened.

Perhaps, as Jay Tea noted earlier, Democrats have simply cried wolf one too many times in their fevered attempts to portray anyone who opposes their agenda as a "raaaaaacist." Or perhaps, as Andrew Alexander reluctantly admitted, coverage of the same events by bloggers has forced the mainstream media to examine its reporting more carefully, particularly when stories published by mainstream news outlets are obviously out of step with eyewitness reports of the same events.

Whatever the reason, the Washington Post's recent efforts to ensure their coverage of Tea Party events is fair is certainly a step in the right direction.


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Comments (36)

It may be evidence of the s... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

It may be evidence of the same syndrome shown by the public in "The Emperor's New Clothes."

As long as EVERY Old Media outlet was holding to the "Tea-party = raaaaacist" meme, they were all fine with it. But CNN lost nerve, saw the light, or just became so desperate to stop the ratings bleeding that they decided to cover the Tea Parties straight, and it was like the child crying out, "But he has nothing on!"

Once someone let the cat out of the bag, the rest are eager to acknowledge it - and quickly, lest their biases be left too exposed.

Don't expect the NYT to follow suit, though - they jumped the shark into the fever swamp of moonbattery long ago, and won't be coming back in this life.

The media is finally waking... (Below threshold)
jim m:

The media is finally waking up from their denial that they no longer have sole control over access to news and information. The internet has made exchange of information far faster and far more accessible than they have imagined.

The public has gotten savvier too. People bring their own video cameras knowing that they will not get fair publication of information if they do not do it themselves. Nobody relies upon the MSM to be fair or honest. People expect the media to be like the WaPo, blindly accepting BS talking points from leftists and repeating dem press releases.

If the media intends to survive (and it's far from clear that they intend to do so) they need to adjust to the fact that they can be fact checked. It's taken them years to catch on that the people have learned that the news media can't be trusted to tell a story honestly.

We'll see how long this lasts. I suspect that there is significant tension within the MSM between telling news stories honestly and catering to an administration that promises financial bailouts and protection from competition. My guess is that catering to their political masters will eventually win out.

I have to laugh. After pos... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I have to laugh. After posting the last comment a commercial came on the TV for the Boston Globe. It featured two columnists.

The first columnist was from the Sports section and he declared that his writing had to be good because he considered every reader to be an editor who would critique his performance. It seems to me that this was once scoffed at by the MSM. It was the blogs that were critiqued for accuracy by the readership, whereas the MSM had professional editors to ensure that the content was right before it was published. Now they are appealing to the same standard as the blogs. Sounds like the professional editors no longer have the same connection with quality they once did.

The other columnist was from the news section. He held forth with an arrogant attitude that what he wrote was important and that when he wrote something "People take notice" and that he "Gets things done" with what he writes. Yet another inflated ego believing that it is his job to tell the rest of us what to think and what is important. He came off as a complete gas bag.

SO it seems that the MSM is figuring out that they aren't doing a good job. They still have to figure out that their job is not to tell people what to think or do, but to provide the information with which people can make informed decisions.

The public is well aware th... (Below threshold)

The public is well aware the MSM is full of crap. Their 'trustworthy' rating is below that of used-car salesmen and politicians hustling votes. As one newspaper wag put it, 'maybe we should focus on providing a quality product'.

Now that would be something.

I must respectfully disagre... (Below threshold)

I must respectfully disagree. The MSM has lied about Republicans and conservatives for many, many years. Just because they report a few true facts occasionally is meaningless in the face of their long term dishonesty. They are not accidentally dishonest; they decided to lie and they have not and will not reverse that decision.

They are more than willing to be subsidized by the government so that they can stay in business. They really don't think of themselves as a business anyway. It's more like a religion to them.

None of the decision makers are losing money. Only the lowest paid staff members and suppliers are paying any price for the MSM's loss of market share.

"Or perhaps, as Andrew A... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"Or perhaps, as Andrew Alexander reluctantly admitted, coverage of the same events by bloggers has forced the mainstream media to examine its reporting more carefully, particularly when stories published by mainstream news outlets are obviously out of step with eyewitness reports of the same events."

Or perhaps, when faced with extinction, even the far leftists will find buried deep within themselves their inner capitalist and realize that if they don't start producing a product the public will buy--the truth-- they will soon be no more.

Not that I expect this of all members of the "[fabricated] reality based community", mind you...

Unfortunately, the shoe fit... (Below threshold)

Unfortunately, the shoe fits.


"It's safe to say that those who are sympathetic to the tea party movement do not hold mainstream views on issues related to race and identity politics."

Noticing that Wizbang blogg... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

Noticing that Wizbang bloggers were spinning pretty hard on the subject of right wing racism I took a look around the news cycle to see what exactly it ws that Wizbang didn't want you to believe...

and found two things.

One, the New York Republican candidate for Governor Carl Paladino turns out to be nothing more than a racist bigot:


and the good news is that some conservatives are acknowledging the racist elements in the Tea Party and confronting it.

Yet Lenny McAllister, a Republican commentator and author, said he has seen racism within the tea party and has confronted it -- approaching people with racially derogatory signs of President Obama and asking them to take the signs down. Like Brice, he said leaders of the movement must not ignore the issue.

It is really important that conservatives quit denying and thereby condoning the open racism being espoused by some in the right.

Claiming it doesn't exist is the same as defending it.

If the racists among the right were such a small minority why is the right seemingly so afraid to chase them out?

My guess is that if the GOP openly denounced racism they could stand to anger somewhere between 10% and 20% of the GOP base.

That's the short answer as to why many on the right refuse to acknowledge the racists among them. They don't want to piss off such a large sector of the Republican party.

Lying Lee, I kind of missed... (Below threshold)

Lying Lee, I kind of missed you but not really. I went to a couple of Tea Party's and at both of them I asked a sign holder to put their sign down because it can be perceived as something they might not intend to convey. Both times they did put the signs down. That doesn't prove anything.

In actual fact and historical data will show much more overt racism coming from the liberal wing of society up until the present. You have to be in denial to say otherwise. The liberal white establishment convinced minorities that they do not have the ability to make it on their own without whites help. Fortunately, a portion of the black community did not buy into that notion. Whereas, conservatives believe hard work, persistance and desire will help you succeed and to wait on someone to help you is a losing proposition.

To conclude, liberals are racist by and large even though they think they are doing good, they are hurting a significant portion of our citizens. Or maybe it is done deliberately for political reasons. YOu be the judge. But it is what it is. ww

"Claiming it doesn... (Below threshold)
"Claiming it doesn't exist is the same as defending it."

Excellent! That's the same as admitting there's more racism in the Democratic Party!

Finally, a little honesty from the left.

"Lying Lee, I kind of mi... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

"Lying Lee, I kind of missed you but not really. I went to a couple of Tea Party's and at both of them I asked a sign holder to put their sign down because it can be perceived as something they might not intend to convey. Both times they did put the signs down. That doesn't prove anything."

Well, it proves that there are indeed sign-carrying Tea Partiers whose signs can be viewed as racist or otherwise objectionable... and it proves that your willing to acknowledge the problem and take what you feel is corrective action.

The problem does exists.

Having them take down their sign doesn't solve the problem - it just puts it back under cover - but what you did is far better than pretending the problem doesn't exist.

Just as McAllister, the black conservative, says in the quote above - "...leaders of the movement must not ignore the issue." It's time to come out of denial, Wizbang Bloggers, and quit pretending that the racism in the Tea Party and elsewhere in the GOP isn't real.

It's very real, and needs to be addressed!

lee ward - "It's time t... (Below threshold)

lee ward - "It's time to come out of denial, Wizbang Bloggers,"

Show me one that has denied it.

'Til then, STFU.

I'm sure Lee Ward would ask... (Below threshold)

I'm sure Lee Ward would ask people at a La Raza rally to put down their racist signs.


Oh, Lee, Lee, Lee... to thi... (Below threshold)

Oh, Lee, Lee, Lee... to think I almost missed you.

"If the racists among the right were such a small minority why is the right seemingly so afraid to chase them out?"

There are many reasons.

First, the only people even coming close to taking these assholes seriously are assholes like... well, you. The rest of us are ignoring them, expecting that they'll fade away once they realize that they're not getting the attention they crave and you insist on giving them.

Second, the right actually believes in diversity. Not the left's version of "diversity" -- "we have people who all look different, but think alike!" -- but real diversity. And that means, occasionally, assholes who have some really stupid ideas. They're alternately laughed at, smacked around, and ignored.

Third, your own dishonesty is abundant here. A few nuts show up, and you tar the whole bunch. Then, however the majority reacts, you condemn them for it. If they ignore it, they're tolerating the bigots. If they confront them, then they're tacitly admitting that it's a huge problem while denying it. If they say they're not welcome, then they're working to conceal the bigots.

You know, running your own fiefdom into the ground really took your edge off, Lee. Now, when you get smacked around, you just slink off until the next thread comes up and start the same stupid points over and over again. Without the power to silence the other side, you really don't have anything else to fall back on.

Which is why I'm not inclined to even threaten to ban you for the kinds of "offenses" that you used to routinely invoke when shutting up those who got the better of you. And that was quite often, because you're pretty easy to get the better of.

No, it's more fun to see you pop up, flail around, and get smacked down. Over and over and over again. It's like Whack-A-Troll with endless free games.

There's one other problem with your little "raaaaacist!" theory, Lee: it has no end game.

But I won't elaborate on that one just yet. I'm saving that one for a future posting.


Actually the concluding the... (Below threshold)
LeBron Steinman:

Actually the concluding theme of the Compost article is that "we're going to single-mindedly and with extreme prejudice keep digging for Tea Party racism or die trying".

"Third, your own dishone... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

"Third, your own dishonesty is abundant here. A few nuts show up, and you tar the whole bunch. "

Nope - not the whole bunch - 10%-20%.

Lee... no examples yet?... (Below threshold)

Lee... no examples yet?

Having trouble finding one?

Or just ignoring a pertinate question - like usual.

And I uncovered more right ... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

And I uncovered more right wing racism news - this from the conservative site "Little Green Footballs."

This week in Wausau, Wisconsin, organizers of a tea party rally had to cancel the appearance of a speaker from Alabama when it came to light that he had a history of speaking at white supremacist events.

Attorney John Eidsmoe agreed to withdraw after another tea party speaker complained. Eidsmoe has spoken before the neo-Confederate group League of the South, and at meetings of the Council of Conservative Citizens -- an organization descended from the old White Citizens' Councils set up in the 50s and 60s to resist the anti-segregation movement after Brown v. Board of Education.

Why was this guy invited to speak? Because some on the right can't come to grips with the racism in the Tea Party and are sticking their heads in the sands and pretending it doesn't exist.

Some conservative web sites are saying the right wing racism isn't a problem while other conservative sites are working to expose it and get rid of it.

Denying the problem exists and protecting the racists isn't the solution. Really, it isn't.

Lee, you haven't just been ... (Below threshold)

Lee, you haven't just been gone from here for months. You've been gone from reality.

Little Green Footballs used to be a great site. Then it started going nuts, conducting mass purges of dissenters, starting fights with other bloggers (kind of like you did, now that I think about it) until Charles finally stopped hiding and came out as a full-blown leftist.

Not that he had much choice; he'd pissed all over large portions of his former friends, allies, and partners. The left was the only place left for him to go.

So to cite him as a "conservative authority" is about three steps lower than using Kos as a source.

But thanks for playing. Our hostess has some lovely parting gifts. I'd stay away from the Rice-A-Roni, though; it's been sitting around for a LONG time.


And nice citation about the... (Below threshold)

And nice citation about the Eidsmoe fiasco, Lee. It actually puts a serious crimp in your argument. Inviting him was a rookie mistake. Only amateurs would do that -- not an "astroturf" movement secretly directed by a cabal of powerful, cryptic right-wingers.


Poor JT must have been pret... (Below threshold)

Poor JT must have been pretty bored to let LW back just so he could have fun deconstructing his lack of logic and coherent argument.

Its one step up from cooking worms and ants with a magnifying glass in the sun.

LGF as a 'valid conservativ... (Below threshold)

LGF as a 'valid conservative source'?

ROTFLMFAO! You are 'priceless' Lee!

And when are you going to answer Marc's question? Otherwise, bugger off!

You racist!

epador, I swear I was as su... (Below threshold)

epador, I swear I was as surprised as anyone when he showed up.

Oh, and Lee: let's just take your "10%-20%" figure seriously for a second. You are absolutely fixated on that tiny portion to the point of ignoring the other 80%.

That's because the things that have the majority so riled up is utterly indefensible, so you have to find something else to talk about.

You and your peers (like Charles Johnson) have to keep harping on the smallest fraction because that's all you have.


Someone up in the comment t... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

Someone up in the comment thread was calling for more examples -- Here you go.

Some on the right just can't hold their racism inside - it just bubbles over and spills out:

Racist comments, including a slur about Hispanics, posted on the Twitter page of the Springboro Tea Party were particularly hurtful to Alana Turner.

"Illegals everywhere today! So many spics makes me feel like a speck. Grrr. Wheres my gun!?" said the March 21 posting on the site managed by the group's founder, Sonny Thomas.[...]

The Twitter posting triggered cancellations by several local and statewide candidates and elected officials scheduled to speak at a Springboro Tea Party rally scheduled for Saturday, April 17, at North Park.

At least some conservatives are able to recognize racism among their ranks and take action -- in this case chosing to cancel their commitments to speak at the Springboro Tea Party rally...

and others seem unable to see the racism -- and try to deny it's a problem.


Does the Wizbang septic sys... (Below threshold)

Does the Wizbang septic system need flushing ? With the old turds resurfacing, I would say so.

Keep pimping that tiny mino... (Below threshold)

Keep pimping that tiny minority, Lee. Keep ignoring the 80% (larger, but that's your own number) that aren't in the Tea Party movement for "racist" reasons. Keep pushing them, so you can maintain your denial that the vast majority are rightfully unhappy with the utterly indefensible policies and actions of the Obama regime.


"And I uncovered more right... (Below threshold)

"And I uncovered more right wing racism news - this from the conservative site "Little Green Footballs."

I really wish that statement had a "Food and Drink" warning because I laughed so hard I damn near hurt myself.

You haven't changed much Lee, you're still a vapid clueless twit without an original thought in what passes for your brain. I realize they beat you with the clue x four one or two comments back but really, try to better educate yourself before quoting someone universally reviled for being only slightly less stupid than yourself.

I will say this though, you certainly are entertaining.

"Or perhaps, as Andrew Alex... (Below threshold)
Admiral Akbar:

"Or perhaps, as Andrew Alexander reluctantly admitted, coverage of the same events by bloggers has forced the mainstream media to examine its reporting more carefully..."

It's a trap!

I was surprised by that art... (Below threshold)
Tsar Nicholas II:

I was surprised by that article. I had thought the Washington Post already had gone out of business.

lee - "Someone up in th... (Below threshold)

lee - "Someone up in the comment thread was calling for more examples -- Here you go."

Geee, that wouldn't be me would it, or would it?

If so, as is your norm, you're wildly off-base.

You made the assertion that it was "time to come out of denial, Wizbang Bloggers"

So which ones lee?

Can we assume your inability to provide a correct answer indicates once again your mouth wrote a check your ass can't cash?

Re: the Washington Post, st... (Below threshold)

Re: the Washington Post, strikes me as CYA journalism.
They've helped set the narrative that Tea Party rallies are a bunch of racist haters and now they suddenly see the light? I'll be pleasantly suprised if this new tone survives.

As to the so-called examples of racism at Tea Party rallies and elsewhere....I still think most of these are done by liberals in an effort to smear their poltical opponents.

Most conservatives could care less about race. Liberals are consumed by it, yet they deny it. And we all know now what that means, that's the same as defending it.

The lack of logic from libe... (Below threshold)

The lack of logic from liberals is baffling.

Wow, now I feel kind of gui... (Below threshold)

Wow, now I feel kind of guilty, having lured Lee Ward out of exile.

Since you are so concerned about confronting kooks Lee, perhaps you can explain why the Democratic party and the press never went to great lengths to identify, isolate, and publicly castigate the 9/11 conspiracy nuts, communist apologists for North Korea, and hard-left wackos who consistently showed up, no -- actually organized numerous "anti-war" rallies during the past eight years. Or did the Democrats tacitly approve of the assassination of President Bush?

Gee I guess every single li... (Below threshold)

Gee I guess every single liberal in America has passed the purity test and only conseratives have nuts among them.... Really, gee I guess we can forget all about the Frag your officers wing, or oh that really great bunch known fondly as the 911 truthers, or oh I know the senator from West Virginia what was his title in the KKK again. Boy it sure is a good thing that the liberals are so pure.

Lying Lee proved my point. ... (Below threshold)

Lying Lee proved my point. I gave an example of asking a couple of Tea Party participants to put their signs down because they COULD be seen as offensive and Lee right away goes toward the racist card. The left is so color prone they become what they hate. The signs were one of Hitler and another with a communists charge. Both probably could have been debated but I focused on decorum and reminding them the MSM is just waiting to twist stuff like that.

Furthermore, I have been kicking around politics for many years and I am absolutely sure the left has planted activists into the Tea Party gartherings to incite false charges. Again, the left are racists. ww

9/11 was an inside job... (Below threshold)

9/11 was an inside job

Out of the millions of steel framed high rise building disasters NONE EVER ANYWHERE have ever caused a controlled-demolition-like collapse.

So the odds of 1 WTC doing this ... even with a jet hitting it ... must be 1:million

the odds of 2 WTCs with jets ... 1:trillion

the odds of 3 WTCs (NO JET HIT) ... 1:i dont know a number big enough

It would be pure unsupported ignorance to believe these buildings fell as the official story said they did ... as well as believing the terrorists could have planted the demolitions without inside help - thus an inside job






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