What Role Did the Media Play in the Tea Party Movement?

By Alex Weprin Comment

teaparty092010.jpgIn his column this morning, NY Times media columnist David Carr tackles the ever-diminishing line between the media and politics. With Glenn Beck’s rally in Washington last month, and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s planned rally next month, TV personalities are beginning to inject themselves into the debate.

And as Carr writes, these personalities appear to be having a direct impact on the national discourse:

Consider that a popular political movement started on one cable network (Rick Santelli’s tea party moment on CNBC) and enabled by another (Fox News all but handed out lanterns and pitchforks) produced a number of victorious primary candidates, including the improbable Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican primary for United States Senate. A former aide to the candidate was quoted in Politico as saying that Ms. O’Donnell had hoped that her political endeavors would yield a television contract.

Carr makes some interesting points, but are they really new? Hasn’t the media and media personalities been affecting the political process since the age of the printing press?

What do you think, should the media try and remain a neutral, staid observer, or is there room for some direct action? And should the rules be different for satirists and ideological hosts like Beck and Stewart?