The Tea Party grassroots protesters have made no secret of their support for limited government and lower taxes. But from the perspective of network reporters and anchors, the Tea Party’s message was more radical: “no government” and “no taxes.”
On May 10, the IRS admitted to flagging more than 100 Tea Party-related applications for higher scrutiny, including applications that included the words “Tea Party” and “patriot.” But even before that targeting began, the networks had portrayed the Tea Party as a extreme group opposed to taxation, instead of one supporting smaller government.
Even before the IRS scandal came to light, ABC, CBS and NBC referred to the Tea Party movement as “anti-tax activists.” In one instance, it was CBS’s political director, and political correspondent for the liberal online magazine Slate, John Dickerson, on Dec. 2, 2012, “Face the Nation” who used that phrase.
But he wasn’t alone in that view of the Tea Party, which was repeated over and over again in recent years. On Nov 8, 2011, “Today” show host Ann Curry spoke of “the Tea Party’s anti-government rhetoric.”
Similarly, correspondent Mike Viqueira told NBC “Nightly News” viewers, “[T]his Weekend Tea Party backed anti-tax rallies were held across the country,” on April 16, 2011.
On the Oct. 7, 2010, edition of CBS “Evening News,” correspondent Dean Reynolds interviewed a Chicago resident who said that “They [the Tea Party] represent a very small sliver of Americans who are upset about paying taxes. There is [sic] always going to be people who don’t want to pay taxes” to illustrate an apparent disparity between the views of the Tea Party and the views of most Americans. No defense of the Tea Party was offered in the segment.
CBS’s Bob Schieffer interviewed the liberal “watchdog” ProPublica’s Kim Barker (See related article) on “Face the Nation” on Aug. 19, 2012. Barker complained that political groups, especially conservative ones, were trying to mask themselves as nonprofits. Schieffer seemed appalled at that picture she painted of nonprofits evading IRS scrutiny, concluding the segment with “that’s an eye opener.” ProPublica has received $300,000 from liberal billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations since 2000, but the Soros connection was not mentioned during the interview.