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Fox News Reports On Stupak Retirement As “Tea Party Victory Lap”

Reported by Ellen - April 10, 2010 -

Greta Van Susteren opened her segment about Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) resignation with a nod toward balance and asking whether he had been pushed out “or did he just want to retire?” But the rest of the segment made it perfectly clear that Fox News wanted its viewers not just to think he had been pushed out but to give the Tea Party credit for the resignation. Just in case we didn’t get the message from the lopsided, fawning coverage given to the Tea Partiers and the brief “balancing” statement from Stupak, Fox News called the segment “Tea Party Victory Lap.” With video.

Other news outlets considered Stupak’s decision “multi-factored,” (as David Brooks said on NPR) and others, such as the L.A. Times, noted that he had received death threats after casting a deciding vote on health care reform. There was also the famous “baby killer” shout at him while he was speaking in Congress. But none of those other factors were mentioned in what purported to be one of Fox’s “fair and balanced” news reports on a show hosted by the one person Rupert Murdoch could name as “close to the Democratic Party” on Fox News. Murdoch said that the same day he said, “I don’t think we should be supporting the Tea Party or any other party.” If this wasn’t supporting the Tea Party, I don’t know what was.

Van Susteren opened the segment asking whether Stupak had been pushed out “or did he just want to retire?” But first, it was time for some coverage of a Michigan Tea Party. Griff Jenkins, Fox News’ Mr. Tea Party, was as upbeat as ever about the Tea Partiers, reporting that the activists had been “celebrating and claiming credit for bringing an end to Congressman Stupak’s long and illustrious, 18-year, career in Washington.”

Jenkins noted that Stupak said he was not pushed out of the race but that the Tea Partiers felt “they got their money’s worth out of the $250,000 ad blitz and radio spots (that ran against him in his district)… and that it yielded pretty significant results.”

That was followed up by brief but sympathetic interviews with Tea Partiers. Jenkins asked questions obviously designed to elicit responses that would make the Tea Partiers look good: “Is this a leaping point for you… Do you feel that your movement is now emboldened because of what has happened? … Where are you going with this next?” Or Jenkins asked a question designed to make Stupak look bad such as, “A lot of the folks here say that Congressman Stupak betrayed their wills. Is that accurate?”

There was an interview with one Stupak supporter who, apparently, turned up at the Tea Party. But everyone else represented the other side.

More than three minutes was devoted to Jenkins’ coverage of the tea party. That was followed by a brief clip of an interview with Stupak saying that he had not been driven out. But while he spoke, Fox News posted “Pushed Out?” on the screen.

Stupak told Fox, “If anything, I just made the Tea Party spend a lot of money that wasn’t necessary on all these ads they had running against me so they can’t use it on somebody else. So I’ll take credit at sucking their treasury dry.” Funny how Jenkins had never asked any of the tea partiers about that. In contrast to Jenkins' three minutes on the Tea Party, Stupak got about 30 seconds.

Then it was back to Jenkins again and a little more anti-Stupak spin.“Talking to people in the Upper Peninsula… it may be that the health care vote was too much volatility to bear.”

Jenkins concluded by gushing, “Now the Tea Party Express? It will go through its Michigan swing. There are two more stops in this district and then a few others south of here. It’s gonna work its way towards Boston where, on the 14th, Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, will join the Tea Party Express again and then they’ll end up in Washington on tax day, on the 15th, where we’ll check, in see what they’re up to and who they’re going after next!”

Van Susteren closed the segment by saying, “We’ll be watching here in Washington.”

You betcha!