Howard Kurtz Ignores Rachel Maddow's Criticism Of CNN Promoting The Astroturf Tea Party Express


When Rachel Maddow aired this criticism of CNN for their promotion of Michele Bachmann's "Tea Party" response to the State of the Union Address and of CNN for promoting the astroturf Tea Party Express on their network for months on end as well, I wondered if Howard Kurtz would respond to it. Well he did, but par for the course, he completely ignored the criticism of CNN promoting Sal Russo's group.

Here's Rachel from last week -- Rachel Maddow Takes CNN to Task for Airing Bachmann's Speech and Promoting Astroturf Tea Party Express.

And here's the way Kurtz responded this weekend. Play the, yeah we covered crazy Michele Bachmann but everyone else does it too just to get ratings game -- and completely ignore that his network has acted about as badly as Fox with promoting the corporate funded tea party astroturf groups. Bravo Howard.

KURTZ: When it comes to cable news, all members of Congress aren't created equal. On the left, Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, who just lost his seat, got plenty of exposure on MSNBC for saying such things as the Republican health plan for sick people is "die quickly." On the right, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann became a Fox News star -- she occasionally pops up on other channels as well -- for saying such things as Barack Obama may have anti-American views.

But more incendiary is why the bookers go after them. So when a brainy, budget-cutting hawk, Paul Ryan, delivered the official GOP response to the president's State of the Union, it was Bachmann who made news by making a video appearance for the Tea Party Express thanks, in part, to this network.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I just want to remind our viewers, the only place they'll see on television that speech live, Michele Bachmann's Tea Party speech, will be right here on CNN.



REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: After the 7$700 billion bailout, the trillion-dollar stimulus, and the massive budget bill with over 9,000 earmarks, many of you implored Washington to please stop spending money that we don't have.



RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: But tonight, inexplicably, a national news network decided that they would give Michele Bachmann a job that her own party never did. CNN ran it live on their network. They aired it on national TV. A remarkable act of journalistic intervention to elevate, in effect, at group with which they are cosponsoring a presidential debate, to elevate that group to the level of the major parties in this country.


KURTZ: So what did the good folks at MSNBC spend the next day talking about? I'll give you a hint. It wasn't Paul Ryan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody in this room has probably looked at the wrong camera.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: You know, I've got a room full of cameras here, and I feel like this could happen to me at any moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michele Bachmann is out there, she's a wildcard.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Did she skip the entire financial crisis of 2008 and 2009?


KURTZ: So did CNN make a mistake in airing Bachmann's speech?

Joining us now to talk about that, and the way most pundits handled the president's State of the Union, Margaret Carlson, columnist for Bloomberg News and Washington editor of "The Week" magazine; Michael Shear of "The New York Times," the lead writer for "The Caucus" blog; and Jim Geraghty, contributing editor at "National Review."

So, Margaret, did CNN elevate Bachmann unfairly, as Rachel Maddow says?

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, Bachmann makes herself news. I mean, she's -- the Republicans create people like Michael Steele and Sarah Palin and Bachmann. She belongs to the Bachmann party. She is on her own.

She goes out. She always makes news. She's always colorful. She's always incendiary. And we cover news, and she's always willing to make it.

KURTZ: Jim Geraghty, if journalists are going to talk about Bachmann all the time, then what's the big deal for CNN to give her five minutes for that video so that people could see what it is they would then be debating?

JIM GERAGHTY, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I think it's worth noting, this is really the first year -- maybe you could argue last year -- that any type of Tea Party response would be justified. Before then, there just wasn't this kind of social movement. I think if nothing else, novelty justified putting it on the air and just seeing how people responded to it.

Now, my fear is, you know, a year from now, the Coffee Party will want to have its response, the progressive -- everybody and their brother --


GERAGHTY: Exactly. Everybody and their brother will say, well, look, I represent a separate faction that my own party doesn't speak for me. Thus, I'm going to need my own separate five minutes. And before you know it, it will be a weeklong celebration of State of the Union responses.

KURTZ: Well, good luck with that.

CNN saying in a statement, "The Tea Party's become a major force in American politics," to your point, "and within the Republican Party. So, therefore, hearing the Tea Party's perspective on the State of the Union was something that would benefit viewers." And I don't disagree with that at all.

But what explains this media fixation with Michele Bachmann? She's not part of the leadership. She is colorful, to be sure.

MICHAEL SHEAR, "THE CAUCUS" BLOG: Look, I think, you know, I, as all journalists, love the fascination of waiting to see what she might say, and that it might be newsy and over the top. But I think there's a serious point here, too, which is that she represents what is a broader story about the divisions within the Republican Party. And there's serious divisions. It's going to be a story from now and throughout the 2010 campaign, and I think showing that helps readers, reviewer understand what that division might be.

KURTZ: And Paul Ryan, who actually has a serious and controversial deficit-cutting plan, nobody was talking about him for the next 48hours. He's probably not that happy.


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