The senior editor of the liberal online publication Mediaite asked an astonishingly absurd question in a headline Tuesday:
“Does The BP Oil Spill Mark The Death Of The Tea Party Movement?“
Glynnis MacNicol’s premise in her piece by that name: “The call for less government intervention into the lives of ‘regular’ citizens that was so prevalent throughout last summer, and fall, and winter has gone nearly silent in the face of the Gulf disaster.”
MacNicol’s supporting evidence of the Tea Party’s demise:
After months of non-stop Tea Party coverage, and endless speculation that the movement spelled certain doom for both Washington incumbents and possibly the Obama administration, it feels like talk of the Partiers has all but disappeared off the cable newser map. [...]
During the month of April, before the oil spill took place, the phrase “tea party” was mentioned nearly 3,000 times on cable television. This past month, as the oil spill has increasingly dominated headlines, that number dropped to 471. That’s a precipitous drop considering how the movement managed to sustain its national headline prominence throughout the preceding months (the numbers are equally high Jan-March) and interesting coincides almost exactly with the BP oil spill gaining national attention.
Add it all up and MacNicol believes that since conservatives have been asking for the Obama administration to actually DO something about the oil spill, the Tea Party’s call for smaller government is now out of favor on the right.
Let me offer an alternative likely far more logical explanation for why this movement has been out of the headlines the last six weeks or so.
The first quarter of 2010 began with Scott Brown winning Ted Kennedy’s vacated Senate seat on January 19. In the subsequent weeks, media outlets focused a great deal of attention on the Tea Party and its possible impact on the November elections.
By February, the big news story was the debate surrounding healthcare reform. As the Tea Party represented a huge force in the public discussion concerning this issue, the actions of its leaders and members were regularly reported.
Let’s not forget all the coverage this movement got as a result of the as yet unproven racist and homophobic remarks supposedly made at a protest on Capitol Hill shortly before the final bill passed the House on March 21. This also acted to keep this movement in the headlines.
After that, the Tea Party geared up for huge rallies across the country to be held on April 15 which garnered additional news coverage.
Exactly eight days later, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed her state’s anti-illegal immigration law. With Tax Day and ObamaCare now in the rearview mirror, America’s press went apoplectic.
Or course, two days prior, the oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico beginning an environmental disaster that has yet to be rectified.
Is it any wonder that the confluence of Arizona’s SB 1070 and the largest American oil spill in history have knocked the Tea Party out of the headlines?
Does the reduction in attention to this movement given these two HUGE news events in any way suggest its death?
Someone cue Mark Twain.
Noel Sheppard is the Associate Editor of NewsBusters
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