- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tea reporters

Among conservative bloggers and media critics, CNN’s Susan Roesgen and her coverage of the tax day “tea party” protest in Chicago is about as popular as measles.

“Poor little Susan Roesgen had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!” quipped self-described “Queer Conservative” Kevin.

In a famous clip that CNN has being trying to scrub from the Internet on copyright grounds, Ms. Roesgen asked a man holding his toddler why he was protesting, interrupted him with “what does that have to do with taxes?” and told him that Illinois will get billions from President Obama’s stimulus bill (the taxes will come from other states, obviously).

She signed off with, “I think you get the general tenor of this, uh, it’s anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the rightwing conservative network Fox and since I can’t really hear much more, I think this is not really family viewing, toss it back to you, Kera.”

“Unreal,” muttered Allahpundit at Hot Air.

“The title of the clip is ‘CNN Reporter Roughed Up at Chicago Tea-Party,’ which, as youll see, is a transparent lie unless you consider the crowd yelling at her to stop cutting off the people shes interviewing as ‘rough.’ But that’s par for the course for the narrative being organized here: A nasty, violent, ignorant crowd, all doing the bidding of CNNs sinister competitor. Stay classy, Turnerites,” he said.

Ace of Spades asks, “Is she there as a representative of CNN or of the Obama Administration? And is there a meaningful distinction between the two?”

Nor, Ace pointed out, was this Ms. Roesgen’s first run-in in recent days with protesters whom she doesn’t get. “Earlier, she couldn’t believe that pious Catholics at Notre Dame would object to the nation’s top constitutional abortionist speaking at that Catholic school,” Ace wrote, referring to an exchange that ended with her saying: “Can you believe that, Wolf, theyre actually praying that God will change the heart and mind of President Obama to make him pro-life?”

Tea reporting

Reports of crowds are notoriously unreliable, but given the large numbers of tax day “tea parties,” the total number of protesters nationwide certainly numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

But coverage by the mainstream media was either hostile (see above) or scant, noted Doug Ross at his eponymous journal, reporting that the New York Times and the Boston Globe had no first-day, live-news coverage.

“ABC and CBS reporters were nowhere to be found. NBC, on the other hand, simply made obscene references — using a tea-related colloquialism,” Mr. Ross noted before honing in for the compare-and-contrast kill with the coverage of another demonstration.

“Compare and contrast that mainstream media coverage with that afforded Cindy Sheehan and her cohorts at the radical antiwar group Code Pink. Cindy Sheehan’s protests near President Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch drew but a few dozen protesters. These tiny gatherings garnered more than a hundred mentions in The New York Times and ‘reporting’ that could have been mistaken for a Code Pink infomercial,” he scoffed, citing the following passage:

“How one 48-year-old woman from Vacaville, Calif., invigorated the antiwar movement, altered the landscape of the president’s vacation town and drew a Hollywood celebrity out into the Texas heat may be as much the result of external factors as Ms. Sheehan’s compelling tale.”

Tea frothing

Not that the “tea parties” didn’t have their downside. Some demonstrators displayed signs calling for assassinations of Democratic lawmakers or making Holocaust and other comparisons that might strike one as an excessive reaction to overtaxing and overspending in a democratic republic.

Of course, liberal bloggers played this up and conservative bloggers played it down, but the posters were there to be played up or down.

In one of its most-read pieces as of Monday morning, the Huffington Post had “the 10 Most Offensive Tea Party Signs,” saying things like “The American Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama’s ovens” and “Barack Hussein Obama: The New face of Hitler.”

“The brain behind this strategy must belong to that 13 year old wnderkind who wowed ‘em at CPAC. One can only speculate about what brilliant maneuvers are waiting in the wings. A mass sticking-out-of-tongues and going ‘Nyah, nyah, nyah’? It’s all so high school,” wrote Steven Weber at the Huffington Post.

An amazed Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog was not nice, noting that the “ovens” picture “was posted on a pro-tea-party site. This was posted by someone who’s proud to be allied with that guy,” he said, later realizing that the same person “defended his Obama-as-Hitler sign to an interviewer on CNN today (dude showed up with a lot of signs, I guess).”

Not that the protesters weren’t prepared. Freedom Works, one of the rallies’ co-sponsors, advised its people in a flyer reproduced around the liberal blogosphere to “admonish the offensive: If crashers or your fellow rally-goers bring off-message or offensive signs, get yourself on video politely telling them you believe their signs are inappropriate, then post the video to YouTube. Show the public that you don’t approve, regardless of what the netroots folks get on video.”

Not a tea item

Topping Memeorandum all Monday afternoon was a report in CQ Politics that Rep. Jane Harman, California Democrat and former House intelligence panel chief, has been “caught on an National Security Agency wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee.”

“Harman was recorded saying she would ‘waddle into’ the AIPAC case ‘if you think itll make a difference,’ according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript,” reported CQ SpyTalk columnist Jeff Stein.

Mr. Stein said the “quo” in “quid pro quo” was that the suspected Israeli agent would raise money for and lobby Nancy Pelosi, then the House minority leader, to keep Ms. Harman on the intelligence committee in the event Democrats took control of the House in 2006, as was expected.

In a statement, Ms. Harman called the report “an outrageous and recycled canard” and has “no basis in fact.”

“I never engaged in any such activity. Those who are peddling these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves,” she said.

Mr. Stein explained that while charges of pro-Israel lobby helping raise money for Mrs. Pelosi on Ms. Harman’s behalf are several years old and prompted an FBI investigation, which the bureau dropped for “lack of evidence.”

The tapes with Ms. Harman’s voice on them, if genuine, could contradict that reason and give credence to other reports of political fixing, perhaps involving then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com