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Fox News Has A New Joe the Plumber – And His Name is Norm

Reported by Ellen - April 23, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

I recently did a Newshound post on the interchange between CNN reporter Susan Roegens and a man with a young child – who Neil Cavuto has now identified as just “Norm” – at the Chicago Tea Party rally on April 15th. On April 17th, Your World with Neil Cavuto first played a clip of that video, in which “Norm” implored the CNN reporter to let him finish his point. Cavuto, inaccurately, stated that “Well, he was never able to finish that point,” and thus introduced the new Joe the Plumber, aptly named Norm – in fact, a newly rational Norm, considering that at the Tea Party rally he was frothing at the mouth in fury and dropping the f-bomb. (The original video I watched, depicting Norm screaming, “And that $50 billion comes with a f***king price tag lady!” at the CNN reporter, while his child was on the verge of crying, has since been taken down by YouTube.) One little problem with Cavuto's preamble to this Norm interview is that he was wrong. While the clip Cavuto showed did in fact demonstrate the CNN reporter effectively counter-protesting, Cavuto conveniently elected not to show the remainder, in which Norm told Roegens to “Let me finish my point,” and she gave him some uninterrupted mic time.

Cavuto ingratiatingly told Norm “you've become sort of like this internet celebrity.” Norm said that it was a “little bit weird” and went on to say that he looks at his son, and other peoples' kids, and wonders about the “role of government” when we're spending so much money.

Cavuto pointed out the CNN reporter seemed to be trying to imply that that some of what “Norm” and others were protesting were “groundless, effectively,” because, as she mentioned, according to the Obama plan, 95% of Americans would get a tax cut. Norm said that when he heard the CNN reporter talking about Illinois getting $50 billion in stimulus, “How is getting more money gonna fix that problem? It doesn't bring about fiscal responsibility.” Why didn't you tell the Fox viewers how you really put it, Norm, about the $50 billion coming with a “f**king price tag?” Someone sure gave ol' Norma a media makeover between the rally and the Cavuto interview.

Cavuto may have seen the original video in which Norm ignored his distressed child and dropped the f-bomb in a rant at Roegens, because he lamely offered up some justification for the attendance of Norm's infant, noting that Norm brought his child, “where a lot of people did the same,” making it sound like a happy little family affair, including “grandparents who brought their grandkids.” Family Values Fox News' Cavuto failed to mention that maybe bringing infants to a rally of this sort when you had such an . . . activist nature was a bad idea, or note the fact that Norm had so much concern for the “role of government” he forgot his own role as caring parent of his infant son.

Cavuto said that the tea party-goers all were taking “great offense” to the media referring to them as “fringe groups,” “crazy protesters,” “right-wing nuts,” and asked Norm if that bothered him.

Norm said that it did, saying he was “trying to put the government on guard about what they're doing . . . and I didn't really appreciate being labeled.” He was trying, he said, to take part in the “normal operation” of an individual in this country, and “I don't think I was being offensive to anyone . . . .” Cavuto let him get away with this, of course – despite the fact that even without seeing the f-bomb thrown, the clip of Norm screaming at the CNN reporter in a rage in itself could be considered offensive.

Cavuto chuckled that Norm didn't volunteer for this publicity, but “now you've become sort of this hero” to many who shared the Tea Party cause. Norm admitted that he and his wife were very nervous about the publicity, and that his “stomach was in knots most of the day thinking about what could possibly happen . . . .” Ah, the first alert of the biased left-wing hate media out to get him and his family in a typical O'Reilly-type paranoid fantasy. Norm said he doesn't want to be a media star, just wanted to voice an opinion about his concern about government money that would have to be paid back in the future.

Cavuto said that he's looked at the video clip with the CNN reporter many times, and “the cynic in me says, was this staged, did the reporter stage it, or set you up . . . I have no way to prove that, I'm just asking you about that.” How ironic is it that Cavuto, who among other Fox News broadcasters hosted the Tea Party protest, made allegations of staging, when he himself was caught off camera estimating the tea party crowd in California at 5,000, but moments later, on camera, claimed the number was double or triple that?

Norm replied that he always used to talk to his now-deceased grandma about “media bias” back in the 80's (when Norm would have been about, say, 12 – hey, grandma, let's talk about the world, particularly that media bias) and how “they” used to “downplay, you know, protests or speeches by different people” and then “up-play other things that they wanted to push forward.” (Is he by any chance related to Joe the Plumber – or Sarah Palin?) Norm said he thinks the press needs to do a better job of functioning and holding the government accountable on both sides, Republicans and Democrats, and he sees what happened with the housing crisis but he doesn't “see any fixes yet.” Okay, so he goes Joe the Plumber one better, and almost rivals Sarah Palin. I was waiting for him to start talking about job creation and shoring up the economy. I mean, at least Joe was just talking about taxes (originally); this guy is aleady aiming his barbs at media bias, the suppression of free speech, the government being held accountable, and the housing crisis. Impressive.

“I don't see anyone being held accountable . . . where's the press? They should be on both of these, these parties and they should be on 'em like a rabid dog.” Well, after seeing your performance at the rally, Norm, I can see where the “rabid dog” thing comes into play. And as far as “both of these, these parties,” interesting that you had a hissy fit at a CNN reporter but seem quite content to schmooze with Fox News' Cavuto.

Norm insisted, “We need to get some answers and we need to get some resolutions.”

Cavuto continued to butter Norm up, saying “You mentioned a very good point . . . lost in this whole argument . . . you and your wife are in the camp that says government spending, big spending, you're opposed to. You're opposed to President Bush . . . the financial rescues and bailouts” and, according to Cavuto's leading statement (no participation from Norm needed), Norm just sort of transferred his ire from Bush to the Obama administration. Cavuto, of course, never asked old Norm how come he wasn't hitting the bricks in protest during the previous administration.

“So this was, I guess, a bi-partisan rant on your part, right?” Doing well with the leading questions, Neil.

“Yeah, I would think so . . . a friend of mine made a good analogy . . . I hear this statement about glimmer of hope in the economy . . . is it a glimmer of hope or is it the rocket of inflation warming up getting ready to take off.”

Cavuto: “Good point. By the way, your child was much better behaved than mine would have been. Touche, hats off to you.”

Yeah, hats off to you, Norm, 'cause you brought your infant to a rally where you frothed at the mouth, screamed at the CNN reporter, dropped the f-bomb, all with the baby at your shoulder that you failed to acknowledge once during your tirade, and now you're on Fox News trying to sound like an everyday, concerned, rational parent.