Great piece by Will Bunch in Media Matters arguing that the actual Tea Party—its activities and number of supporters—is dying, but the “smell of fear” the corpse gives off will shape politics and media for years to come.
Sure, there’s no question that the so-called Tea Party philosophy is fueling the discussion in Washington and in the media these days—where every conversation on spending begins and ends with “cutting,” where every notion about government boils down to “how much less.” But the bizarre thing is that this ongoing influence seems to be playing out against a broad canvas that seems to be missing the existence of an actual Tea Party.
Did the Tea Party become, in that famous Sherlock Holmesian expression, the dog that did not bark?
For the most part, yes. So what was all that barking that woke America up in the middle of the night?
It was the right-wing media, and its echoes, that you heard.
When historians look back on the surge and decline of the Tea Party movement in America, and they will, I believe the focus will be how something that was real—anger and fear among a segment of the middle class that has been decimated by the decline of the U.S. economy—was hijacked by a band of high-def hucksters, starting with media stars and their bosses seeking ratings, attention, and cash, not necessarily in that order. The behind-the-scene billionaires eager to save their oligarchy, and the craven politicians that they own, piled on later.
The Tea Party itself may be fading along with Glenn Beck’s mug on the TV, Bunch writes, but the “chaos unleashed by Fox and friends on the American political system during those two years of the Obama backlash is going to be with us for a long, long time.”