Washington Post Provided Biased Coverage of Tea Party Protest

I was asked to write about the tea party anti-tax protests that occurred on Saturday. I am not going to talk about how many people were or were not there nor am I going to provide a photo montage of the oft times racist signs that we’ve seen in the past (such as the one that said “monkey see, monkey do”), nor am I going to complain how Fox News treats the protests as a personal ad campaign for its various commentators. That has all been said before and you can Google it if you are interested.

What I am going to do is comment about how even the “so-called liberal media” a.k.a. Washington Post placed the tea bag protests on the front page when, not too long ago, they placed an even larger anti-war protest (100,000) on page 1 of the Metro section. The reason I said “so-called liberal media” is that when I mentioned the fact that the Washington Post had placed this story on the front page and how it had not done so for the anti-war protests my wife asked, “but I thought the Washington Post was a liberal paper.” To which I replied, “Most reporters are probably liberal or center-left but the editorial team has shown an increasing propensity for conservative, if not neoconservative, points of view. And if one looks at their columnists i.e. Charles Krauthammer, George Will, David Broder, etc. you can see that their format is far from strictly liberal.” “When you get right down to it,” I told her, “you cannot expect any mainstream media outlet to take a truly liberal perspective because they are still a corporation beholden to stock holders and dependent on advertisers for their revenue.”

This is of course if you, like me, consider liberal perspective to believe those that work to change the status quo and investigate sticky issues such as poverty and inequality. If the media were truly liberal nobody would have been surprised as the poverty in New Orleans after Katrina, it would always be major new but alas we all know that poverty rarely gets more than the occasional human interest story in the mainstream media. And yes, I do speak this way to my wife. Her eyes tend to glaze over after the first ten minutes of my ranting.

Opposing the Iraq War would have meant upsetting advertisers such as GE (a media conglomerate in its own right) because GE is one of the largest weapons manufacturers in the world and they stood to make, and in fact, I am sure they did make, quite a bundle on the Iraq War (see Eric Alterman’s http://www.whatliberalmedia.com/ What Liberal Media). In this weekend’s case, the tea party protests are at least partially funded and/or orchestrated by groups such as Freedom Works who are in the pockets of the health insurance industry. In other words, the “so-called liberal” Washington Post prints protests that may hurt the corporate agenda of advertisers in a low-yield location but places ones that help the corporate agenda of advertisers on the front-page of the paper.

The Post then does a story which mentions Freedom Works without going into the controversy of the organization.

The worst part about this article was the quote, “Health care is not listed anywhere in the Constitution,” from Brian Burnell, 45, of Maryland. This is beyond ignorant. This man is obviously one of the “tenthers” out there who proclaim that any social program, be it Social Security, Medicare, etc. not specifically enumerated as a power of Congress in Article 1 of the Constitution must be unconstitutional. The specific language states of the Tenth Amendment says, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

This narrow interpretation of the Constitution neglects not only Congressional power to tax for programs “necessary and proper” which benefit the “general welfare” of the country but also show that they have not studied how the context of the federal government has changed due to the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment.

The next ignorant person, Debbie Wilson, 51 Florida stated, “”We want our country to go back to the roots of doing what our Founding Fathers wanted us to do — less government in every aspect of my life.” To which I say; which founding fathers are you referring to? Those who wrote the Federalist Papers? Those who wrote the Anti-Federalists Papers? Aaron Burr? Alexander Hamilton? Lord knows those two didn’t agree (then again I shouldn’t presume that she even knows who they are let alone why they disagreed or what their disagreement led to). Moreover, if she knew what the founders wanted she would also know that they never intended us to even have a direct voice in all aspects of the government.

The Constitution says that the States can decide when and how the electors (the people that actually do vote for president on our behalf) are to be chosen, see Article II Section 1. In our country’s first election, the people of five states were not allowed to vote for their electors (when you vote for Obama or McCain you are actually voting for a slate of electors who vote for you…thus you get the Electoral College). South Carolina still didn’t allow its citizens to vote for president when it seceded from the Union in 1860. Moreover, as one founder, George Mason put it, presidential elections were expected to go into a contingent election, when no candidate obtained a majority of the electoral votes, wherein the House of Representatives would choose the president “nineteen out of twenty times.”

Does she want to go back to that to? How about counting black’s as 3/5ths of a man so their white southern owners could have increased voting power?

If you want to oppose increased government spending fine (though I would take all government spending predctions with a grain of salt since barely a decade ago we had a budget surplus until unecessary tax cuts were combined with a war of choice to give us a trillion dollar structural deficit…hmmm where were your protests then?) but don’t do it based on some half-assed knowledge of what the Constitution meant then or what it means now.

I guess I can’t blame these people when they follow someone like Glenn Beck. His attempt to personify Thomas Paine in his book and on his TV show was nothing short of an intellectual failure. For one, Paine supported a guaranteed minimum income, he was a feminist, he supported animal rights, and instead of thinking God was the saving grace of a nation he thought “priests and conjurors are of the same trade.” None of these things exemplify the myopic vision that Beck tries to espouse as an exemplar of Paine’s ideas or thoughts, but I digress.

For a more thorough attack on the false constitutional argument of these protestors please read Healthcare is not a state’s rights issue.

As for the tea party protests, I am happy that you are using your voice for that is your human right though I am saddened that you do in support of a status quo that is far more tyrannical than any government because it will deny the human right of healthcare for all.

Scott P

89 comments

Diane C.
Past Member 3 years ago

Paul P. and Scott P.--Thanks for a reasoned and courteous exchange. Most refreshing to read.

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DH F.
Daine H. F8 years ago

The Washington Post isn't liberal by any stretch of the imagination. While the history of US corporate media is too complex for a post, we saw a massive re-structuring of the major media sources since the 1980s, dramatically consolidating "news" media under a small, solidly conservative group of owners, all relying on very limited "approved" sources of information.

Mainstream media did take a very moderately progressive turn during the '70s, but that was a long time ago. You'd think the public would have noticed, for example, the way the Big News Media castigates Democratic politicians while brushing off negative incidents involving Republicans; that's a clue. You might have contrasted their support for corporate welfare with their support for repealing welfare for those in poverty. You might have noticed the phasing out of reports concerning such things as homelessness and the phasing out of homeless shelters and food pantries, the impact of massive job loss, wage deterioration while corporations are enjoying record-breaking profits, or the outcomes of those thrown off of welfare.

Still, if you find anything in the Washington Post that actually is "liberal", let me know.

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Nicolae Carpathia
Past Member 8 years ago

Sideshow Bob: No children have ever meddled with the Republican Party and lived to tell about it.

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Paul Puckett
Paul Puckett8 years ago

Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

Just a guess...

Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness, and equal health insurance premiums and coverage for all. Might make a good election platform in the current environment.

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Donna C.
Donna Coles8 years ago

I cannot believe the degree of selfishness many of the elderly are showig on theses healthcare protest. At 53yrs old and a widow I struggle paying for healthcare, and than I have co-pays on top of my monthly payments that I often cannot afford to pay. Meanwhile those protesting loudest about NO government health care have no problem with their Medicare and Social Security; and yes just like me you paid inhto it; and just like generations before you the next will bear thye cost. But I did not hear past generatiohs complain so much, especially when it is those over 65 years of age that economically are the waelthiest group in America. While our childre are the poorest, I would have to wonder what would Jesus think

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Donna C.
Donna Coles8 years ago

Life. Liberty and the persuit of happiness... both individually and as a nation takes universal health care to achieve for all to be equal

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Nancy V.
Nancy V.8 years ago

Scott P....I want to say how much I totally agree with the last paragraph of your post/entry regarding those protesting. It is 'so on', "so true', those elderly protesting do not know what end is up. They are 'led' by their own Repuke Politicians. Isn't it a shame that 'sore losers' have to be so much in the news and their stupidity publicized? Shame, Shame on those who should know better. Most of those signs are 'ridiculous' and anybody with brains would know that.

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Karrie Campbell
Gypsy sage8 years ago

I was watching the Protest on CNN online live feeds while it was in the raw footage. I think it was the Chrysler old Guy that was speaking. I thought I heard that this country is only for Whites only and White America. I am wondering if I misunderstood them. I think the Tea party is overreacting and I believe we need an overhaul of the health system.

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Paul Puckett
Paul Puckett8 years ago

John H.

You raise a very good point about the current estate tax system and your numbers are correct. But small farms began disappearing many years ago. Prior to 1995, the estate tax exemption was $600,000 and the first rate above this level was 37%. Max rate at that time was 55%. It was even higher in the 1970's.

I connect the disappearance of the small farmer with the estate tax because I settled over 160 estates in Virginia as a bank trust officer and a few of them were farms. When there are several children, but only one who plans to continue farming, it is difficult for the family to decide how to handle the estate taxes, particularly when the farm is generally the largest asset. The kids can either mortgage the property, with the one who farms carrying the bulk of the mortgage, or sell. In my experience, they found it easier to sell and the big corporate farmers were very happy to buy.

At current estate tax levels, assuming proper estate tax planning, a couple can shield $7mil ($3.5mil each) from the estate tax. Obviously this level is much higher than pre-1995 even when adjusted for inflation. The fall in real estate prices also helps farmers shield their assets from the estate tax. However, many small farms were sold to the big corporate operations from the late 60's through the early 90's.

I have not looked for any studies that connected the estate tax with the loss of small farms, so I could very well be mistaken.

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John H.
John H8 years ago

Paul P,
How can you say the estate tax eliminated small farms. In 2008 the exemption was $2 million. In 2009---exemption = $3.5 million. That means NO TAX on the first $3,500,000.00 of the estate ! Awwww, poor little farmer !

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