Last night, ThinkProgress editor Faiz Shakir appeared on Fox Business and slammed the network’s aggressive promotion of the anti-Obama tea parties. Guest host Charles Payne denied that Fox News and Fox Business were advocating in favor of the protests:
SHAKIR: These tea parties are a sham. The reason they’re a sham is because they’re directed by lobbyists here in D.C. … And on top of that, you’ve got this network, Fox News, which is advocacy — pushing this, promoting this with all of its heart. And it is not a grassroots movement when you have Jonathan Hoenig, Neil Cavuto, Glenn Beck, Greta Van Susteren promoting this up the wazoo. That is not a grassroots movement.
PAYNE: Faiz, let me just jump in. There’s a big difference between covering something and promoting it.
SHAKIR: That’s not what’s going on.
Jonathan Hoenig, a Fox News contributor and a managing director of a hedge fund who will be speaking at the Chicago tea party, grew furious with Faiz for discussing the corporate backing of the protests:
HOENIG: What you’ve got, Faiz, is 500 cities and literally tens of thousands of people, myself included —
SHAKIR: Directed by corporate lobbyists and corporate money.
HOENIG: That’s not true! Why do you keep saying that? Am I directed by lobbyists, Faiz? Am I paid by lobbyists? You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!
Watch a compilation:
Payne vociferously denied that Fox News was promoting the tea parties. However, seconds after dismissing the panel on which Faiz appeared, Payne declared it was “time to party like it’s 1773.” He launched into an endorsement the tea parties as an example of “what is right” and praised them for “carrying on in the American spirit”:
PAYNE: Thank you, panel. Excellent job. Okay. Why it’s time to party like it’s 1773. Next. [...]
What is right though is the growing chorus of Americans that want their country and their liberties back. Anti-tax tea parties will happen all over the country Wednesday, carrying on in the American spirit that will send a message to Washington and Wall Street. … Remember, you have a right to voice your opinion and fight back.
As Faiz said, the tea parties are not the grassroots movement Fox News would like you to believe. They are being heavily promoted by corporate-funded lobbyist groups, including Dick Armey’s Freedom Works. And Fox has enthusiastically taken up the banner of these far-right protests: Just yesterday, host Stuart Varney declared, “It’s now my great duty to promote the tea parties.”