By Mary Grabar September 26, 2016
Long before Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank claimed to have the “statistics” to prove Hillary Clinton’s assertion that half of Donald Trump supporters are “deplorables,” a liberal outlets that has repeated such slurs -- the New York Times -- published an article titled “Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated.”
That was back in April 2010, a year after the rise of the “Tea Party movement,” a movement inspired by the “rant” of Rick Santelli in 2009 over Obama’s massive “stimulus” spending on infrastructure (sidewalks that went nowhere), “green energy” (Solyndra), and bribes to governors to participate in the federal takeover of education (Common Core).
The 2010 New York Times poll found that most Tea Party members held views that were typical of the general public. Reporters wrote that their responses to questions “are like the general public’s in many ways.” Most described the amount they paid in taxes as “fair,” most sent their children to public schools, and most believed that Medicare and Social Security are worth the cost. In fact, the poll found that most Tea Party members had higher incomes and were better-educated than the general public.
But they did have three major concerns: “the recent healthcare overhaul, government spending, and a feeling that their opinions are not represented in Washington.”
In other words, these are well-informed middle-class Americans. They are concerned about federalism and spending and believe in representational government.
Such a presentation of the Tea Party was short-lived. The Tea Party was soon transmogrified into an old stereotype: bigoted and uneducated white Southerners.
Their disagreements with Barack Obama’s policies were translated into “racism.”
The journalists had the help of academics, such as those ensconced at the left-wing Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies, where the “right-wing” label is applied without distinction to Mussolini and the Tea Party.
In the fall of 2010, the Center hosted a conference and then produced a collection of essays by participants titled: Steep: The Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party. Contributor Charles Postel of San Francisco State University claimed that “’right-wing rage’” leads to a seeking of solutions in the free market, embodies the concerns of older, white Americans, and is a re-emergence of the Cold War’s “apocalyptic fears of communism.”
The pseudo-scholarship of such centers was employed by reporters to cast Tea Party members as irrational and crazed.