Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 12, 2011

Wrenching Around With the Tea Party

NYT CNN Tea Party debate photo

Newsweek Cover Let s Just Fix It

This prominent publishing and programming fodder this week demonstrates how big media, catering to the angriest and most rejectionist element of society, is driving the interests and the narrative of the Tea Party.

In the case of the debate and how deeply CNN got in bed with the group, Tea Party Express, the most impressive element of the show was how far the network bent over backward in conveying leverage to a fringe movement in the name of the news organization’s marketing interests. And then, looking at the gaudy stage set, the word “Republican” in the title would be completely redundant, if not for the purpose of demonstrating who’s on top.

Regarding the Newsweek cover, the message might seem constructive on the surface, but the text at the bottom (writing off the government as a lost cause) combined with the homespun, patriotic graphics evoking the Tea Party, amplify the revolutionary spirit … of destruction. Sure a wrench, in any other circumstance, might symbolize repair, but given the atmosphere, it’s more likely tooled for dismemberment.

(photo: Chip Litherland for The New York Times caption: CNN and the Tea Party co-sponsored the Republican candidates’ debate Monday in Tampa, Fla.)

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