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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Giving an entirely new meaning to the phrase "media circus"
Posted by Jill | 6:16 AM
Via All Spin Zone comes the news that a CNBC e-mail, leaked to TPM Muckraker, exhorts teabaggers to kick up some ruckus at Congressional town hall meetings:
CNBC approached Tea Party activists, looking for angry protest events that would make good television, according to a leaked email from a Tea Party discussion group. And one Tea Bagger responded by flagging an upcoming event that, he said, "should be a riot ... literally."

Yesterday, Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin sent an email, obtained by TPMmuckraker, to a Tea Party google group. Martin told the group: "We have a media request for an event this week that will have lots of energy and lots of anger. This is for CNBC."

She then asked: "So, where are the big events this week and where can TPP best be represented on the news?"

Later that day, a Tea Bagger named Pat Wayman responded with a suggestion, also obtained by TPMmuckraker: "This one should be a riot! literally...." he wrote.

Wayman then posted information for an upcoming "health fair" hosted by Rep. David Scott (D-GA), at which the uninsured will receive free medical coverage*.

As Wayman noted, "[t]his is the Congressman who got a swastika painted on his office sign last night."

Wayman also included a link to a far-right website which lists the Scott event.

You can see both the Martin and Wayman emails here.

So, at least in Martin's telling, the pro-business CNBC was specifically looking for an event with "lots of energy and lots of anger." (Earlier this year, they just relied on their own correspondents for that.)

And of course, some Tea Baggers were only too happy to try to provide that anger.

Late Update: Martin tells TPMmuckraker that she did not forward the Scott event -- or, in fact, any event -- on to CNBC as a candidate for coverage. She stressed that her group "does not endorse anything that incites violence of any kind," adding that the email list is un-moderated. "I can't moderate every single comment," she said.

Asked whether CNBC had specifically told her they were looking for an event with "lots of energy and lots of anger," Martin replied: "That was the impression that I received from them." She declined to elaborate.

CNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

I'm sure CNBC didn't. But given the amount of air time given to idiots ranting about "death panels", it's clear that for the 24 x 7 news cycle, this kind of theatre, no matter how insane it is, makes for Good Television™, just as Orly Taitz made for Good Television™ before she had her now-infamous meltdown on MSNBC. It's rare that we see something like what we saw from Lawrence O'Donnell last night, in which a television talking head actually confronts one of these GOP talking point-spouting morons to explain what "taking back the country" means, or what the Founding Fathers' intent was. Why ask these people to back up what they say, when it's so dramatic to just show a white guy tearing up a photo of Rosa Parks at a town hall meeting without bothering to even mention that isn't it odd that it's a photo of a BLACK woman that made this white guy so angry, and gee whiz, the president is black, and maybe there's some kind of race animus going on?

The raw emotion, the sheer batshit crazy abject TERROR of these people, much of it based on nothing but the verbal probes being poked into their reptilian brains by an insurance industry bound and determined to let NO ONE stand in the way of them collecting premiums and then dropping people after they dare to get sick, may make for good television. But is it responsible journalism to show this kind of video, to let Sarah Palin rant on television about nonexistent death panels, and let it all go uncommented as though this kind of delusional nonsense were just "alternative facts" instead of delusional crazy? And how will they cover it when someone actually gets hurt -- or worse? Will that be bread and circuses too?

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