June 11, 2009

Covering the Tea Party

Justin Katz

Will Ricci filled the gap on his Facebook page, but it didn't occur to me, yesterday, to try to get pictures of all of the speakers at the Gaspee Tea Party, as I focused instead on the people in the crowd and the message that they're sending via their hand-made signs. (MikeinRI has photos up, as well.)

That's really the story of these rallies, which is why it's objectionable that an unplanned visit from the governor toward the end of the rally became the photo for the Providence Journal's front page coverage, a fact made only more egregious by the Nixonian double-victory-sign pose that the editors chose. Contrast that with the Rhode Island section front page coverage of East Providence teachers' union protests. When a loose affiliation of angry taxpayers gathers, the governor becomes the face; when a group of organized union members gather (wearing identical t-shirts), they're presented as a "teachers and their supporters." (The online version, which is consistently more slanted, couldn't even spare the pixels for a picture for Steve Peoples's story, although there's one of the teachers.)

That said, Peoples's actual reportage is good, including this interesting tidbit:

Capitol Police Sgt. Joseph Habershaw said that the group — calling itself the "Gaspee Tea Party" — was the largest protest under the dome since the credit union crisis of the early 1990s.

There's also this concerning indication that, if we really want to encourage our legislators to take the only approach that will get Rhode Island out of its hole (namely, cutting taxes and reducing regulation and mandates), the phone of House Finance Committee chairman Steve Costantino ought to be ringing today:

"I think we've done pretty good on spending. I think we've dropped spending the last three years," he said. (State-only spending in the current budget dropped 3.7 percent in the current fiscal year, but increased 5.6 percent the year before.)

Costantino refused to discuss continuing negotiations on next year's budget plan, expected to be released by the House Finance Committee early next week.

Will there be any tax increases?

"I can't answer that," Costantino said of the budget that must fill a $590-million hole. "I'm in the process of negotiating a balanced budget."

Sounds to me like they've got a tax increase in the works, and if "few lawmakers paid attention to the outdoor event" (because miraculously, they happened to have a contracted session, yesterday), perhaps ringing phones will get their attention.

Or maybe they really do not care what the regular folks of Rhode Island want and need.


At least as of 8:22 a.m. — when Andrew commented to this post — Projo.com has had a picture and video associated with its story on the Gaspee Tea Party, so that complaint no longer applies. My opinion that the Web site turns up the bias a bit from the print edition is a long-standing impression, so it still stands.

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The montage of pictures, with audio of Governor Carcieri & others in the background, that the Projo posted on their main page is solidly representative of the event.

Posted by: Andrew at June 11, 2009 8:22 AM


I saw that as well and agree.

I also have a few tea party photos on The Ocean State Republican, for those who are not yet on Facebook.

Posted by: Will at June 11, 2009 12:07 PM

By the way, in regard to the event in East Providence, locally it was described "as about 100 teachers," so someone's mathematical skills certainly aren't very good. It should also be mentioned that a great many of their "supporters" were members for the EP police union, who have their own beef with the city.

Expecting Steve Peoples to provide unvarnished coverage, is probably not realistic. He's consistently shown his biases. On the bright side, him and most of his "reporter" friends will probably be unemployed in the not so distant future.

Posted by: Will at June 11, 2009 12:14 PM

Justin, thanks for the wonderful visual image of our governor as Nixon. I'm still laughing.

Posted by: David at June 11, 2009 2:39 PM
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