CNN Omits 'Coffee Party' Founder's Past as Obama Volunteer
Published: 3/3/2010 12:44 PM ET
John Roberts and Kiran Chetry omitted mentioning that Annabel Park, the founder of the so-called Coffee Party, worked as a volunteer for President Barack Obama's presidential campaign, during an interview on Wednesday's American Morning. The anchors also didn't mention Park's past work for the liberal New York Times.
Roberts and Chetry interviewed the Coffee Party USA founder at the bottom of the 8 am Eastern hour. After an initial question about the origin of the name, the two asked about the principles of the nascent movement and if health care "reform" was going to be a major issue for it. In her last question to Park, Chetry did ask if the Coffee Party had any ties to a political party: "[T]he tea party movement really, in some ways, has been a challenge to Republicans to move more toward fiscal conservative ideals. Are you aligned with a party? I mean, as we know, passing health care reform has been a huge goal of liberal Democrats for decades. Are you aligned with the Democrats, trying to get them more to move to the left when it comes to health care?"
The founder denied that her movement was aligned to any party, and actually criticized the longstanding two-party system in the United States as being "incredibly outdated." In reality, as William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection blog exposed, Park worked for one of the two parties, as an organizer and operator of the United for Obama video channel on YouTube (NewsBuster P. J. Gladnick blogged about Jacobson's expose on Tuesday evening). As the United for Obama page admits, "We are a network of Obama volunteers from all across the country and from all backgrounds working together to support Obama's message of unity and change....Some of us are filmmakers and we created this page to amplify Obama's message on YouTube...The filmmakers include...Annabel Park..."
Jacobson also noted that Park once worked as a Strategy Analyst for the New York Times. Even Reuters, while also omitting the founder's past work for the Obama campaign in a blog entry on Tuesday, noted that the Coffee Party was a movement of the left. Roberts and Chetry didn't even bother to mention that during the segment.
The full transcript of John Roberts and Kiran Chetry's interview of Annabel Park on Wednesday's American Morning:
CHETRY: Well, the tea party movement- we've heard a lot about it recently- and it's been spreading like wildfire with tens of thousands turning out for rallies and also protests. Well, now, there is a new political movement. It's also gaining some steam. It's called the Coffee Party USA.-Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.
ROBERTS: And while the two share similar names and a frustration with gridlock in Washington, the similarities may end there.
The founder of the Coffee Party USA, Annabel Park, joins us now live from Washington. Annabel, great to see you this morning. The question many people might have, right off the bat, is- tea party has gotten some historical context to it. Why the name, the Coffee Party, and why the need?
ANNABEL PARK: Right. First of all, I love coffee, though at times, I definitely like tea as well. But there is actually a historical reference as well. During the American Revolution, after they dumped tea into the harbor, they actually declared coffee the national drink. That was the solution to the problem. So I associate coffee, not only with solutions, but also with people working- working hard, because we need to wake up and work hard to get our government to represent us. So-
CHETRY: All right. Annabel, what are some of the principles? What do you guys stand for? Where do you want to see change in Washington?
PARK: Well, we basically, just like in the American Revolution, we're looking for real representation. We don't feel represented by our government right now, and we don't really feel represented well by the media either. So it's kind of a simple call to action for people to wake up and take control over their future and demand representation, and it requires people standing up and speaking up, and that's what we're encouraging people to do by getting together and start the conversation going.
ROBERTS: We should point out, Annabel, that all of this started on your Facebook page-
ROBERTS: Which now has 64,000 fans. It's just been around for a few weeks as well. But we also noticed, too, there's a little survey on there. Sixty-one percent of people who have responded to the survey say that health care is their number one issue. Is this a political movement that could be built around health care as an issue?
PARK: Well, I think what's happening is people are responding to what happened in the past year with the health care debate, because it was something that is obviously very important to many Americans, and it was reflected in the 2008 election. And since we feel like the health care debate showed not only that we are very divided country, but there's something really wrong with our political process. We kind of got to see the innards of the political process, and realize there's something very broken, and I think that's what we're responding to, not only the negativity that we see in the rhetoric and the discussions, but the fact that it's- there's just something very wrong with- kind of the system, the entire political system. So we want that change. We want that addressed, because it doesn't matter what issue it is- we can't make progress if we can't even talk to one another. So we want to really focus on the political culture.
CHETRY: And it is interesting, because the tea party movement really, in some ways, has been a challenge to Republicans to move more toward fiscal conservative ideals. Are you aligned with a party? I mean, as we know, passing health care reform has been a huge goal of liberal Democrats for decades. Are you aligned with the Democrats, trying to get them more to move to the left when it comes to health care?
PARK: No. I wouldn't say we're aligned with the Democrats or Republicans or any party. In fact, I think most of us feel that kind of that two-party system is an incredibly outdated system. It encourages people to think of politics as a kind of game, like a football game, in which there are two sides, and it's a zero-sum situation. If one person wins, the other person loses, and that's really not a healthy way to conduct collective decision making. That's not a democracy. Democracy should start with the sense that we're a community, and we share common goals and values, and that there's such a thing as a common good that we're all working towards, and the two-party system really doesn't encourage that way of thinking about it. It's about winning and losing, and we're really tired of it.
ROBERTS: All right. It's called the Coffee Party. It's a brand- new political movement. Annabel Park, the founder, thank you for joining us this morning. We'll keep watching this real closely.
PARK: Thank you.
CHETRY: Good to talk to you this morning, Annabel.