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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 02:16 PM ET, 04/22/2011

The Fox News factor

As I noted below, there are plenty of reasons why it’s wrongheaded to blame the left for failing thus far to gin up the same level of public outrage about Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposals that the Tea Party stoked against health reform during the long hot town hall summer of 2009.

But as it happens, some Republicans are in fact catching an earful at home over the Medicare proposal, though not on the level of Dems over health care. Think Progress flags the latest example of this — angry constituents criticizing GOP Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and asking him why he won’t hike taxes on the rich and corporations:

Similar confrontations have taken place on a number of other occasions, too.

All of which points to another key difference between what’s happening now and the Tea Party town halls: Fox News. Right now, you’re only seeing coverage of these angry confrontations with House GOPers on liberal blogs and Web sites. By contrast, in 2009, the Tea Partyers had a hugely important big media ally on their side. Fox aggressively promoted the earliest demonstrations — some of which were organized by right wing groups — airing nonstop footage of even the most paltry Tea Party town hall showings and tirelessly working to rebrand what originated as a series of disparate expressions of constituent anger as a national movement. That ultimately pushed other major news outlets into treating the town halls as a national story, a national phenomenon, which gave it more and more momentum.

It should not be forgotten that Democrats, too, were heavily complicit in enabling and hyping the Tea Party movement. The Dem strategy of elevating the craziest Tea Partyers in order to paint the GOP as scary and extreme only succeeded in reinforcing a sense of widespread public discontent with Obama and Dem policies.

But the Tea Party benefitted far more from Fox’s promotional and rebranding effect — something that the left can’t really match on the airwaves. It’s another key reason why it could end up being very hard for the left to gin up the same levels of public outrage over Ryan’s proposals that the right succeeded in producing over health care in 2009.

By  |  02:16 PM ET, 04/22/2011

 
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