Social Forum vs. Tea Party
We thought we were filling a void when we interviewed local organizers of Juneâ€™s U.S. Social Forum for a cover story. How big a void? The group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) recently considered the question by comparing coverage of the Tea Party convention in Nashville in February (attendance 600) and the USSF in Detroit (estimated attendance 15,000 to 20,000). Julie Hollar, writing for FAIR, says:
[I]t came as little surprise that the Tea Party Convention this February would get more coverage than the June U.S. Social Forum, five days of strategizing, organizing and activism inspired by the World Social Forum launched in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001. What was a little shocking, though, was just how stark the difference was.Â â€¦ Across 10 major national outlets in the two weeks surrounding each event, the Tea Party got 177 mentions to the Social Forumâ€™s three. (Per participant, the Tea Party got 1,500 times as many mentions.)
And although there was national USSF coverage by Fox Newsâ€™ Glenn Beck (predictably alarmist) and on John Kingâ€™s CNN show (with guest Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!):
Not one major newspaper outside of Michigan covered the story. Time and Newsweek ignored it. The Associated Press didnâ€™t run a single story on its newswire.
In comparison, the Tea Partyâ€™s 177 mentions ran the gamut of major papers and network news organizations. Politico reported that CNN alone sent a crew of 11 to cover the gathering.
Locally, MT was cited by FAIR for having â€śeven dedicated a front coverâ€ť to the USSF, while the dailiesâ€™ coverage was deemed â€śrespectful.â€ť The notable exception was The Detroit Newsâ€™ Nolan Finleyâ€™s diatribe on â€śthe hootenanny of pinkos, environuts, peaceniks, Luddites, old hippies, Robin Hoods and urban hunters and gatherers.â€ť
FAIR did not say, but we’re pretty sure we were the only outlet to actually ask the “hootenanny” crowd what they thought of the characterization.