CNN’s Partnership With the Tea Party: Strange Bedfellows … or Something Worse?

Sep 14, 2011  •  Post A Comment

CNN’s partnership with the Tea Party to present the recent Republican presidential debate has many critics saying it’s at best an odd pairing and at worst something potentially more sinister.

Yahoo’s news blog The Cutline cites The New York Times, Business Insider, Politico and others as being at least mildly critical of the arrangement.

The New York Times said of the Tea Party and CNN, “Each stands to benefit from reaching the other’s following, raising questions about whether the arrangement was a shrewd political transaction masquerading as public service.” The paper added: “CNN, which has sought to establish itself as an island of cable news centrism between MSNBC on the left and Fox News on the right, went to great lengths to make the event as authentically Tea Party as possible.”

The Times noted: “Their partnership left some questioning whether the network had gone too far in reaching for centrist credibility.”

Business Insider called it “one of the oddest political matches in recent memory,” and said: “The idea of a cable news network reviled by the far-right coming together with its fiercest critics to host anything is completely ludicrous. Clearly, someone along the way thought: ‘Hey, that’s so crazy, it just might work.’"

Politico zeroed in on CNN’s efforts to spice up the event with the glitz factor, writing: “Lord knows, they tried: sweeping, swooshing graphics; audience cheers right out of ESPN’s NFL draft coverage; bringing the candidates out one at a time, letting them introduce themselves the way NBC has the offenses and defenses do with quick taped intros. It was nearly 15 minutes before the first question was asked.”

Politico concludes: “It wasn’t enough. Anyone switching to ‘Monday Night Football’ could see in a few seconds that debate coverage has a long way to go before bringing genuinely eye-catching coverage to the presidential debate format.”

Moderator Wolf Blitzer took some of the heat. According to Business Insider: "Blitzer … totally lost control of the conversation by the end of the first segment, apparently thrown off by the rowdy crowd."

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