Tea party overkill

Last night’s Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC highlighted how the conservative, anti-tax Tea Party movement has gotten much more attention from mainstream media outlets despite the movement’s relatively small numbers compared with other types of demonstrations. For example, last October, tens of thousands of people marched on Washington’s National Mall in support of equal rights for gays and lesbians, and the same large numbers demonstrated there in March in support of immigrants’ rights. And just yesterday, an estimated 15,000 Illinois state workers demonstrated at the state capitol in Springfield in support of a tax increase to avoid devastating budget cuts.

But it’s the tea partiers who have gotten and continue to receive the bulk of national, state and local coverage on our airwaves and in our newspapers. Never mind that a majority of Americans don’t subscribe to the tea party movement’s views or reflect its demographics. So tea party media coverage saturation at the expense of other movements distorts the real opinions of Americans, and gives lawmakers and the public an inaccurate picture of the public’s mood. And this kind of media distortion leads to bad public policy. Perhaps the corporate media finds the openly combative rhetoric of the tea party story sexier and more compelling than people demonstrating for human rights or for more government spending. Or perhaps, more likely, the tea party story simply jibes with the sentiments of corporations in general, and the corporate media in particular.

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