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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax day tea parties

CBC Newsworld just hit what is probably a new low in their coverage of the tax day "tea parties" taking place across the U.S. today. Coverage by "American Politics Panelists" Jeffrey Friedman and Rachel Sklar was less than illuminating. I learned that:

I usually don't get too upset about CBC bias (everyone's got a bias), but this was just awful reporting. While Friedman at least knew what was going on, Sklar didn't seem to have done any research on what she'd be talking about, nor did she seem to be aware that the name was in relation to the Boston Tea Party, and not something the Queen does each day at 4:00.

(UPDATE: Sklar defends herself in the comments, please check it out. I am glad it just came across poorly, though I still think there was plenty of info out there to see what a big deal this was going to be. I'll continue looking for video of the segment so Shotgun readers can watch it for themselves.)

The Wall Street Journal, not surprisingly, had much, much better coverage of the tea parties. There is an excellent article by Glenn Reynolds that lays out exactly why these protests are not organized by, nor necessarily good for the GOP. Isaac Morehouse wrote earlier this week about the non-partisan, big-tent nature of these protests.

Rather than being simply anti-Obama, the tea parties are anti-establishment. At many rallies no politicians are being allowed to speak at all. Said one organizer interviewed in Reynolds' article, "This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around."

Not quite the same story that CBC painted, is it? Some more tidbits from Reynolds' article can be found after the jump.

So who's behind the Tax Day tea parties? Ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize...

... The protests began with bloggers in Seattle, Wash., who organized a demonstration on Feb. 16. As word of this spread, rallies in Denver and Mesa, Ariz., were quickly organized for the next day. Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli's Feb. 19 "rant heard round the world" in which he called for a "Chicago tea party" on July Fourth.

(The Shotgun reported on Santelli's "rant" back in February)

As word spread, people got interested in picking a common date for nationwide protests, and decided on today, Tax Day, as the date. As I write this, various Web sites tracking tea parties are predicting anywhere between 300 and 500 protests at cities around the world...

The movement grew so fast that some bloggers at the Playboy Web site -- apparently unaware that we've entered the 21st century -- suggested that some secret organization must be behind all of this.

(This Playboy blog story is true, and also hilarious. The original article has been pulled down (and so has the cache) but you can read a copy and pasted version of the post here. It's just outrageous and hilarious.)

There's good news and bad news in this phenomenon for establishment politicians. The good news for Republicans is that, while the Republican Party flounders in its response to the Obama presidency and its programs, millions of Americans are getting organized on their own. The bad news is that those Americans, despite their opposition to President Obama's policies, aren't especially friendly to the GOP...

... And that's the good news and the bad news for Democrats. It's not a big Republican effort. It's a big popular effort. But a mass movement of ordinary people who don't feel that their voices are being heard doesn't bode well for the party that positioned itself as the organ of hope and change.

Read Reynolds' article in full here.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 15, 2009 | Permalink


1,000 people showed up in tiny Hudsonville, MI! http://tinyurl.com/c96gaw

Also, over 5,000 in Lansing. The best part - some GOP politicians (rather big names too) showed up and tried to seek the microphone, but a coalition of activists, bloggers and people who were more or less manning the mic refused to let them. They had a strict "no politicians" rule (Much like the one in Chicago that resulted in the GOP National Charmian getting snubbed). Some very angry Republican politicians stormed away.

He he he...:-)

Posted by: IMM | 2009-04-15 1:22:00 PM

Hi there, Rachel Sklar here defending my honor. Not sure what was confusing to you - sorry I took issue with the WSJ piece, but the "grassroots" element here has been liberally helped along by DC-based conservative outfits and corporate lobbyists, and the numbers are modest (an 1800-person Facebook group is not the stuff of social media frenzy. See here: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/04/15/tea_parties_a_test_of_conserva.html). I'm not disparaging the effort - I did note that they had gotten attention and created a talking point for the day - but there is grassroots and then there is an attempt to present something as grassroots. So I didn't quite agree with Reynolds' analysis on that point.

As for being aware of the Boston Tea Party reference - obviously I got that. Even a Canadian knows that much American history, but in point of fact I made that reference when I talked about the importance of having a strong, clear message - the use of "tea party" had a few unintentional connotations, including prissy and wimpy (not consistent with typical GOP message) and one that lent itself to mockery based on a "blue" connotation. So I wanted to make that point, because the GOP has been so strong about messaging in the past - but overcoming the "Party of No" label is an uphill battle for them.

Lastly it was difficult to say with certainty at 1:30 pm what kind of numbers various 'tea parties' had gotten out - my impression is that the value in the enterprise lies more with how widespread they were able to make it happen - so they can point to tea parties across the country rather than tout raw numbers. But the numbers are rolling in now and it looks like a decent turnout - as I said, taking into account the fact that it was a work day AND the last day to file taxes (i.e. hard to find the time).

Here's some more information for you and your readers: http://pr.thinkprogress.org/2009/04/pr20090415/index.html and http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/us/politics/16taxday.html

Posted by: Rachel Sklar | 2009-04-15 2:05:37 PM

Rachel - there's no doubt that the GOP is trying to get in on the tea party movement, but I think it's a mistake to link the events with the GOP messaging. A healthy number of the organizers of these events are not Republican, some not even conservative.

I think the real question of interest here is whether this anti-tax and anti-spend movement will influence the Republican Party, which has only been somewhat anti-tax and in no way anti-spending for the last decade or so.

Posted by: Matt | 2009-04-15 2:49:33 PM

Why do we just accept the CBC's bias?

They are supposed to represent all Canadians, not just the left wingers or the CBC's own interests. This is awful reporting and it's biased. If they want to produce such crap they should get a blog and do it on their own, they shouldn't get my tax dollars to do it.

The CBC is ideologically biased in favour of higher taxes and they are in favour of higher taxes because that is how they are funded.

Seems they have a conflict of interest here.

Posted by: Stan | 2009-04-15 3:20:48 PM

The TEA Party begin long before the GOP try to be involve.

TEA Party event begin a couple of month ago.

Anyway, another good reason to be "mad as hell" to see my taxes subsidizing the CBC.

Posted by: David Gagnon | 2009-04-15 8:26:39 PM

Rachel Sklar,

watch this and try to learn something:


Posted by: David Gagnon | 2009-04-15 9:32:51 PM

The tea parties have Republican and conservative supporters but are not being run by the Republican Party. The parties were organized over the internet and through talk radio. There were some Republican officials who also spoke. However, these were officials who were known for battling big spending. The key speaker at the Austin, Texas rally is Governor Rick Perry who is currently battling the government over the 10th amendment. In New York City, one of the main speakers was former Republican House leader Newt Gingrich who played a major role in producing a balanced budget in the 1990's. Conservative talk show host Shawn Hannity(refers to himself as a Reagan Conservative and registered Independent) spoke at the 20,000 person rally in Atlanta. Mike Huckabee(former Republican governor of Arkansas) and libertarian talk radio host Neil Boortz were the headliners at a rally in South Carolina. Huckabee and Boortz also were both emphasizing the need for the implementation of the fair tax(explained on Boortz's website) to replace the current tax. In Mobile, Alabama two conservative talk radio hosts named Rick and Bubba headlined a rally of 6,000. The point is that the rallies were open to anyone who was fed up with excessive government spending. Also, a few pro-life signs were at one rally to represent people who are outraged by some pro-lifers being labeled as extremists by the Department of Homeland Security. Some Republican officals were allowed to speak but only ones who had a history of take on big government spending and the tax system.

Posted by: David | 2009-04-15 9:37:07 PM

Just a follow up - I think this makes a good point, both about the numbers as compared to other grassroots events, about who championed it (yes, Libertarians to be sure, but this was a top-down GOP event), about how the issue was framed and about the disquieting elements that surfaced at some of the events. http://charitini.com/post/96850732/did-sean-hannity-get-out-from-behind-a-desk-and

But, always a pleasure to engage with my fellow Canadians! What I love most about getting to go on the CBC. Home!

Posted by: Rachel Sklar | 2009-04-16 9:43:27 AM

I've heard from a few libertarian friends that while "tea parties" in smaller towns and cities were pretty much grass-roots and non partisan (they lambasted the big spending big government Bush Republicans as well as the current Democratic Administration), in big places they were definitely promoted and tried to be co-opted by the current Republican leadership and the talking heads at Fox News.

And on the day when people are still paying their 2008 BUSH tax rates...

Anthony Gregory's article from Lew Rockwell yesterday is the perfect answer to these folks and insane folks like Glenn Beck - where was your outrage when Bush was doing this same stuff and worse? When he was gleefully spending billions and going into debt and deficit for a ware based on lies?

The best irony of the day had to be Michelle Malkin, who wrote a serious piece advocating the internment of Muslims in concentration camps, complaining at the outrage over a sign calling Obama a fascist.

There are a lot of good people who have genuine grievances and real fears about the amount of spending that is currently going on. Its a real pity they are trying to be exploited by loudmouthed hypocrites who happily did the same thing for 8 years when they held the reigns of power. Where was the outrage then?

Its a pity a real grassroots movement started by Ron Paul is being taken over by Republican shills supported by billionaires who don't give a damn about them.

Posted by: Mike | 2009-04-16 10:26:13 AM

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