Thursday, April 16, 2009

Typical mainstream media reporting

So there were Tea Party protests all over the state yesterday. Big ones at the Capitol at noon, and at Pioneer Courthouse Square in the evening.

I was unable to make either one because of a luncheon commitment for Congressman Greg Walden and a baseball game in the eve. But congrats to my good friends KPAM talk show host Victoria Taft, who got thousands to turn up for the Portland event, and Russ Walker of FreedomWorks, who spearheaded the Salem event.

In The Funny Paper story today, the reporting was more than typical. It was almost a caricature of what we have all come to expect from the paper.

Right off the bat, we were told that the rally wasn't real. Fifth or sixth paragraph, the editorializing began:

"The tea parties were hailed as a grass-roots uprising by their organizers, which included FreedomWorks, a Washington D.C.-based group headed by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Democrats, however, dismissed the grass-roots nature of the rally as AstroTurf."

No, the Tea Parties weren't ACTUAL "grass-roots uprisings," they were just "hailed" by their "organizers" which were "DC-based" organizations led by "Dick Armey."

Hard to imagine more code words packed into a single sentence. Nice job with the neutral reportage, Jeanne Har. Sheesh!

The Funny Paper INSISTS on characterizing the Oregon Chapter of FreedomWorks as a DC-based organization. Is FreedomWorks headquartered in DC? Yes. Does it have an active Oregon chapter, with tens of thousands of members? Obviously.

Is it an "astroturf" organization? This is the term they use anytime they want to deligitimize the authenticity of opposition. An "astroturf" organization is a fake grass roots effort that doesn't really have broad-based support.

In a city the size of Portland, anytime more than a thousand or so people attend a rally or political event, that cannot possibly be an "astroturf" organization BY DEFINITION. So when The Funny Paper takes such pains to point out that "critics" are using the dismissive epithet "astroturf," you can rest assured that you are reading the official position of the newspaper, and not authentic reporting.

To put a finer point on it: I can think of another "DC-based" organization with tens of thousands of Oregon members, but I can't recall ever once The Funny Paper referring to it as an AstroTurf organization: The National Education Association.

The local affiliate, the OEA, is constantly involved in organizing protests and rallies for such things as raising taxes and increasing school funding. Have you ever once read in a single article anything resembling the statement that the OEA is an "astroturf" organization because its national affiliate is in DC?

Me neither.


Columbia County Kid said...

Only one criticism Rob - your blog focuses on what the Oregonian has to say about any particular event, including the tea parties.

What the Oregonian had to say about a particular event and how it was reported may have been important a decade ago, but today, who gives a damn what they have to say?

With readership of the large newspapers declining by the day, I worry very little about what the deep thinkers at the Oregonian have to say about anything. Their audience isn't big enough anymore.

MAX Redline said...

Although the “tea party” protests against out-of-control government spending have been very clear in identifying what wasteful spending they object to, the Left have been assiduously working to characterise the events as driven by “redneck, racist" white folks intent on getting rid of the "nigger" in the White House and stopping "the fags from stealing their children.”

It's not simply the Zero; it's that way in much of the media and in certain congressional quarters. That not one of the thousands of events held on 15 April raised such issues is irrelevant. Never let a few facts stand in the way of a good story.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) blasted "tea party" protests yesterday, labeling the activities "despicable" and shameful."

"Not a single American household or business will be taxed at a higher rate this year. Made to look like a grassroots uprising, this is an Obama bashing party promoted by corporate interests, as well as Republican lobbyists and politicians.”
How remarkably disingenuous. Nobody will be taxed at a higher rate this year (future years may vary).

The protests were all "made to look like a grassroots uprising". In reality, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy at work. Right.

Remember, nobody will be taxed at a higher rate. Unless, of course, you smoke, drink, drive, use a gas-powered mower, use electricity, heat your home....

Anonymous said...

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) -- interesting choice. She and her husband are part of the Obama-Chicago mob with cred that dates to the SEIU/ACORN inception in the early 1970's... her husband was under investigation -- but now that the legal enforcement apparatus is being used for politics, the probe has been dead-ended.

Anonymous said...

Is this the place to discuss the death penalty? No, it isn't?


Roadrunner said...


Organization of the "tea parties" included a high-powered Washington-based group headed by a former Republican leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, and were hyped by a national network, yet you accept as a matter of course that they were "grassroots" events.

Tell me, what national network gave the same level of hype to any of the anti-war protests? You will admit, won't you, that the anti-war protests drew far more people?