Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is often described as the “kingmaker” of the tea party movement for his efforts to remake the Senate in his ultraconservative image, having already spent $3.3 million this year supporting tea party candidates through his Senate Conservatives Fund.
But appearing on Fox News host Andrew Napolitano’s show “Freedom Watch” this weekend, DeMint acknowledged that he’s had some help promoting what Napolitano described as the “tea party tidal wave” that has recently handed far-right candidates the GOP Senate nominations from Delaware, Alaska, and elsewhere. Namely, DeMint thanked Fox News:
NAPOLITANO: He’s a leader — I’m calling him the godfather of the tea party movement. … I think you’re entitled to a victory lap. I mean this has just unbelievable! A series of political battles for the heart and soul of the Republican Party regularly, consistently and systematically now won by the individual liberty, small government, sound money side, which we call the tea party, and of which you are a prime mover.
DEMINT: Well Judge, I can’t take the credit for this. This is all about the people, and people standing up and speaking out and getting informed. And I think in the media, we’re seeing what Fox is doing, and radio talk shows and blogs. People are more informed and engaged, and I think they’re feeling the power shift back to their hands.
Fox would likely run and hide from DeMint’s praise, as they repeatedly maintain they are a legitimate news organization. Last year, Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox’s parent company, even said, “I don’t think” Fox News “should be supporting the tea party.” Apparently, Murdoch needs to watch his own network more often. As ThinkProgress, Media Matters, and others have repeatedly documented, Fox has consistently promoted, supported, and even helped organize tea party rallies.
Meanwhile, they’ve also supported conservative GOP candidates like the ones DeMint backs. “[A]t least twenty Fox News personalities have endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or causes, or against Democratic candidates or causes, in more than 300 instances and in all 50 states,” according to a Media Matters survey conducted in April. Meanwhile, a recent Pew research survey finds that Fox News’ viewership has increased in recent years due almost entirely to an influx of Republicans, 40 percent of whom now say they regularly get their news there. That’s up from just 25 percent in 2002. Of course, Fox’s parent company also recently gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.
In July, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer admitted that his network has covered the tea party movement “with greater vigor than our competition, and we were rewarded with viewers.” It “was better television,” Hemmer explained.