Corporate Media Hype Tea Partiers Way beyond their Actual Significance

Percentage of Americans who favor socialism: 20

Percentage of Americans involved in Tea Party Movement: 11 (Support for Tea Party is also about 12%).

Number of mentions of “Tea Party” past month in Lexis radio and tv transcript search: 1042*

Number of mentions of “socialism” past month in Lexis radio and tv transcript search: 69+

Percentage of Americans who say it is unacceptable to take the Public Option out of the health care bill: 44

Number of mentions of the “public option” past month in Lexis radio and tv transcript search: 235

Only 9 percent of Tea Partiers are urban, whereas a majority of Americans are.

Tea partiers are half as big as proponents of socialism in the US body politic, but corporate media gives them 15 times more mention, and overwhelmingly more positive mention.

Although nearly one of every two Americans is committed to a public option in the health care bill, the public option received only 1/4 as many mentions in US mass media in the past month as Tea Partiers, who are supported by 1 in 9 Americans.

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*Often corporate media transcripts show the tiny ‘Tea Party’ movement taken seriously, praised.

*Most mentions of socialism, the political-economy preference of a fifth of Americans, in US corporate media are pejorative, occurring in stories about North Korea or China, or as insults directed at President Barack Obama. (In a recent Rasmussen poll, 52% of Americans supported capitalism and 20% supported socialism. Some 27% did not know which they supported.)

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20 Responses

  1. Your pie graphs are deceptive. In the first graph you should have included the 69% who said something else to have the graph be accurate.

    Also, being in the tea party and for socialism isn't inherently mutually exclusive (even though in practice they are).

  2. That poll is nearly a year old. I wonder if the numbers would be different today?

  3. I think you're being a bit credulous, Mr. Cole. There's got to be something fishy about any poll that suggests that 20% of people favor socialism–the vast majority of people I interact with are left-of-center, and far less than 20% of them favor socialism.

    Moreover, where is there any outspoken movement for socialism, akin to the tea parties? The absence of such a movement undermines these polls and also explains why the media attention is where it is.

  4. While I agree the tea bags get disproportionate media attention, your comparison is not useful. Involvement in a movement is much different than mere oral expression of support.

  5. Very interesting post. I appreciate the statistical evidence of socialist/tea party support in the US to demonstrate that the media over-hypes the tea party's actual significance.

    However, I think the media is justified in closely following the emergence of the tea party for two related reasons. First, it's a new phenomenon that is beginning to register candidates that are going to compete for a core segment of a major party's base. While the probability of the tea party's future success in electoral politics is low, there is some uncertainty here. They may be more successful than we currently think and the Republicans may adopt a significant part of their platform. Secondly, high profile Republican elected officials are publicly supporting the tea party's agenda, like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. If similarly public Democratic officials were making appearances at socialist rallies and supporting their candidates over Democrats, then it would certainly be newsworthy beyond the actual significance of statistical socialist support.

    In any event, I appreciate the job you're doing watching what the corporate media is actually reporting.

  6. Tea partiers make noise–they go to Town Hall meetings, they have a convention, they get out and campaign for people like Scott Brown. Maybe if Socialists and people who favor the Public Option made more noise–even wrote letters to the editor or their congresscritters–they would get more press attention.
    Also note the comparison is somewhat "apples to oranges"…"favor Socialism" vs. "involved in Tea Party movement." How many Americans favor the Tea Partiers, and how many are "involved" Socialists?

  7. Juan I enjoy reading your blog but those are some of the most unprofessional and ugly charts I've ever seen.

  8. The difference between Tea Party and GOP proper is in the eye of the beholder. But dems do their best to distance themselves from even the softest Socialism.

    So, when dem leaderships find themself relying mostly on paid political hacks and torn from their base, they have only themselves to blame.

  9. .
    Corporate media and the corporate-pwned GOP think they have co-opted the Tea Party movement into irrelevance. They mistakenly think the TP animus motiv is fiscal discipline, or limited government, and the GOP is pretty good at faking both of those.

    They assume T-Partiers are complete maroons. Who knows ? If T-Partiers think the GOP is a conservative political party, the corporate dogs may be right.

    Dr. Cole, the big issue for Tea Partiers is not right vs. left. Its whether the Republic can survive the "Unitary" Presidency and the abdication of Congress. We no longer have co-equal branches, or checks and balances.
    Once Emmanuel figures that out, you can rejoice in your proletariat nirvana, which will endure a mere matter of months.
    .

  10. CNN Opinion poll

    24% of the public generally favors the Tea Party movement but has not taken any actions such as donating money or attending a rally.

    link to politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com

    The tea party is vastly Republican and represents the rural base of that party. It is being covered because it makes noise. It also provides excellent visuals for the T.V. machine. Socialist, on the other hand, are rather boring. The last socialist of any note was Eugene Debbs all the way back at the turn of the last century. Now if Bernie Sanders was a hot Alaska mom, the media would be all over that like white on rice.

  11. Well, who ever put the effort into counting the 1042 times the tea party was mentioned is helping advertising them too. We are doing a similar thing here. We are not really talking about the public option or socialism.

  12. Sarah Palin has already given the Tea Party the kiss of death, as has the religious right. The Tea Party is only the precursor of a new genuine intelligent third party which will emerge from the coming unrest and tax revolts. This third party won't be religious right and it won't be socialist left, it will be libertarian in its platform, and it will rock the foundation of the corrupt two party system. Look to 2012, not 2010. Stimulus will barely hold the economy together up until this year's elections, and after that, it all collapses. Then it won't be, it's the economy, stupid, it'll be, it's survival, stupid, and the revolt will be led by the youth. They are unemployed, and by then, they'll realize they won't be employed, and it will be a worldwide revolt.

  13. "Your pie graphs are deceptive."

    No they are not. The purpose of the article is to compare tea party vs socialists. No mention of them compared to the rest of the political environment. I'm sure if you did that you would have to include counts of how many times "republican" or "democrat" were mentioned and it would really dilute the article. Obviously there is a biased towards tea party and against socialism. Mostly for reasons listed in the other, well reasoned comments.

    "There's got to be something fishy about any poll that suggests that 20% of people favor socialism"

    Why does there HAVE to be something fishy? Because you do not agree? If you have a different poll you could reference please post. Just stating that you have lots of far left friends who do not agree puts you smack into the middle of most of America. (see above why the previous whiner wanted that other 69% included) You probably avoid socialists because you are biased against them. I could easily say that there are no tea party supporters because personally I have never met one, but that would be ignorant of me to dismiss a poll that tells me they are 11% of the population just because I live in an area that does not support it.

  14. "Dr. Cole, the big issue for Tea Partiers is not right vs. left. Its whether the Republic can survive the 'Unitary' Presidency and the abdication of Congress. We no longer have co-equal branches, or checks and balances."
    Has "anonymous" read the papers lately? A minority of 40 or 41 Senators has been able to hold up health care reform, climate change legislation, any number of appointees, etc., etc., etc. Personally I think that if the President and a majority of Congress are in favor of something, they generally should be able to get it passed. If there is an absence of checks and balances, it is in a minority in one house of Congress being able to stop legislation.

  15. Yeah – I think your data really validates what happened in the Massachusetts senate race. NOT!

  16. There is a difference between "favoring" and "being a member of". It's quite easy to say you favor something. I wonder what the numbers/graphs would look like if we were to ask how many people favored most if not all of the tea party's tenets? or how many people were actual members of a socialist party?

  17. Interesting that my socialist sentiments are shared by 20% of my fellow Americans. How would I have ever known?

    Thanks Juan.

  18. I believe your manipulation of this data to prove your point is prohibited as torture under the Geneva Convention.

    How else could you take one poll that says 20% of Americans "favor" socialism, compare it to another that indicates 11% are "involved" in the tea parties, and conclude there are "twice as many socialists"? There is no way one-fifth of the country self-identifies as socialists, politically speaking.

    If 11% of the country became actively involved in a socialist movement overnight, it wouldn't be ignored by the media. As it stands, despite the fact that many tenets of classic socialist doctrine have been codified in U.S. law for more than 60 years now, socialism as a political force has been relegated squarely on the fringe by the establishment center-left party in the United States, whereas the GOP has done a great deal to cultivate the tea party movement.

  19. I know its already been mentioned but people don't split 50/50 like this.. where are the others. Incomplete data means incomplete analysis.
    Furthermore, what do they mean by favouring Socialism.. Social Security is a socialist like endeavour. If President Obama had proposed it, they would simply call him a socialist(or communist). To say they favour socialism probably means that they favour certain social programs.. in which case on overwhelming percentage of the population(much more then 20%) would favour "Socialism" because they want to get their Social Security.

  20. I'm sorry but did everyone complaining about the comparisons completely miss the fact that he said 12% support tea partiers. And for reference, the socialism poll comes from a poll where they asked people which system they thought was better socialism or capitalism. 20% said socialism, 27% said they didn't know and the rest said capitalim. While 20% is low, it's still pretty high in red scare USA. And I think it's pretty obvious that socialism would have a lot more support here just like it does in Europe if it hadn't been fore the Cold War and the political manipulation that went on during that time.

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