10.17.2010 1

“One Nation” Rally Sponsors Escape Media Criticism As They Fail to Match Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor”

By Kevin Mooney — Left wing activists who organized the “One Nation Coming Together” event at the Lincoln Memorial earlier this month as a rejoinder to Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally fell flat in terms of attendance, energy and enthusiasm. Even the New York Times was forced to concede that liberal demonstrators could not match attendance figures for Beck’s Aug. 28 rally also held at the Lincoln Memorial. The first few paragraphs are sympathetic and supportive of “One Nation,” which was funded and supported by organized labor.

“More than 300 groups organized Saturday’s march to build momentum for progressive causes like increased job-creation programs and to mobilize liberal voters to flock to the polls next month,” readers are told. “The rally’s sponsors, including the N.A.A.C.P., the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the Sierra Club and the National Council of La Raza, said they also hoped to demonstrate that they, not the Tea Party, represented the nation’s majority.”

Tens of thousands were reportedly in attendance on a bright, sunny auspicious day replete with American flags and unifying themes that contrast with what organizers called the “divisiveness” of the Tea Party. But this is a very debatable assertion. It can be argued that each of the “One Nation” sponsors have advanced divisive polices that are offensive to mainstream sensibilities. This point is not raised here and as a general rule reporters should not interject themselves into the debate. However, the NYT has not operated in a restrained, detached manner when reporting on Tea Party activism. As TimesCheck has previously noted, reporter Kate Zernik has often invoked race as a way to delegitimize small government activists.

If this approach carried over to coverage of liberal activists, questions would be raised about the motivations and ethics of liberal demonstrators.  Of course, the NYT is not inclined in this direction.  However, it does deserve credit for reporting on a key fact; 13 paragraphs down into the story, but that’s still progress.

“Significant areas of the National Mall that had been filled during Mr. Beck’s rally were empty,” the report acknowledges. “In a broadcast on Thursday, Mr. Beck criticized the liberals’ march, saying his supporters paid their own way to drive to Washington, while labor unions chartered hundreds of buses to ferry demonstrators to Saturday’s rally.”

If the reverse were true, it would most likely be reported in both the headline and lead paragraph. “Liberal Activists Surge Past Glenn Beck’s Divisive Rally,” the NYT would have fit nicely with the paper’s preferred narrative.

Remarkably, the NYT does inform readers that at least some of Beck’s observations about the liberal rally are on the money.

“On Thursday Mr. Beck warned that the march included Marxist, Communist and revolutionary groups,” the report says. “Among the organizations endorsing the march were the Communist Party USA, the United Church of Christ, Jewish Funds for Justice, the National Urban League, the National Baptist Convention, People for the American Way and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.”

But then again, the NYT has a different view of extremism.

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