In Madison, Wisconsin tens of thousands of protesters have gathered to express their opposition to anti-union bill being pushed by Republican Governor Scott Walker. The protests have become a nations story, as the political battle is seen as crucial in determining the future of collective bargaining rights in many other states. Fox News, like every other cable network, has extensively covered the protests. However, the “fair and balanced” network has taken quite a different view of the Wisconsin protesters compared to Tea Party activists who took to the streets just one year ago.
Earlier this week Fox News suggested that the protests in Madison were somehow dangerous. As Fox News ran footage of people holding signs a tag line at the bottom of the screen read “Wisconsin on Fire.” Fox News commentator have frequently speculated on how the protests might turn violent at any second. Today Megyn Kelly interviewed Karl Rove who described the event as a “wildcat strike” which was about to take Wisconsin into “anarchy.” Rove went as far as to describe the crowd as a “mob,” terminology which is curiously being picked up by other conservative commentators. Michelle Malkin criticized the “thuggery” she saw in the protests. Judge Napolitano described the protests as “union temper tantrums.” Glenn Beck said the protests were part of a “American Insurrection.”
Fox News seems to have a much more positive view of Tea Party protesters over the past two years. Fox News actually promoted some Tea Party protests as “citizens…standing up” and “demanding real economic solutions.” Fox News frequently referred to Tea Party protests as “Americans” simply “demanding that their voice be heard.” The “fair and balanced” network would frequently compare Tea Party protests to acts of rebellion during America’s founding, such as the Boston Tea Party. In all, Fox News participated in at least a dozen Tea Party events. When protesters gathered around the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. to object to the passage of health care reform they were never referred to as a “mob” at the time, and there was certainly no talk of violence or anarchy.
As the video to the left illustrates, Fox News went beyond simply covering the Tea Party protests in a positive light. On some occasions Fox News producers would help orchestrate the Tea Party crowd and “rev them up” for the live coverage being on the network.
The contrast is stark and inescapable. When Tea Party protesters go out they are “everyday American citizens” who are simply “trying to make their voice heard” against the big, bad government. When workers and their families protest a Republican governor’s bill they are a union organized “mob” that is trying to create chaos and ignoring the results of the last election.