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If the Tea Party visited the White House, would America know?

April 15th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Today, 15 representatives of America’s impassioned, engaged, and concerned youth met with the President. How many Americans know that the President met with them?

One of the realities of American politics is that the paid machine of distorting anti-science syndrome suffering haters of a livable economic system works the interpreters, HARD!  When the Tea Party mobilizes 400 people in front of a scowling Abraham Lincoln at the Reflecting Pool at Faux News’ Beck and call, America’s real media shows up … in force.   To see one salaried journalist for every 10-20 Tea Party activists isn’t an unusual ratio. Front page stories, CNN lead items,  radio items galore will all result. And, media outlets will be deluged with complaints that they didn’t give this “mass event” adequate coverage.

10,000 of America’s most impassioned youth come to Washington, DC … meet with the President … have people being arrested at the Congress … and reminds one of the question “if a tree fell in the forest and noone heard, did it make a noise”.

This, of course, is somewhat a mischaracterization of the situation here at Powershift 2011.

After all, The Washington Post did give page 2 coverage prior to the event. This was, mainly, a political story to make the argument that Obama is losing the youth activists who might not work hard to get him reelected.

The “youth blame Obama” narrative about Power Shift 2011 seems disempowering and trapped within the frame that all we needed to win was a stronger president. Coverage of Power Shift needs to break out of the hero-savior-villain electoral politics mold and elevate the transformative aspirations of this conference, namely the largest mobilization and leadership training of a generation.  Sure, DC reporters love to write stories about how the disenchantment among youth with Obama over climate could affect his electoral chances, but that’s not what we’re fighting for. We’re fighting against the destruction of our air, our land, our democracy, our dreams of a better world. The dynamics of the Obama 2012 campaign and its relationship to the Millenial generation can be a powerful lever for change, but that’s all it is. A means, not an end.

The arrests in Congress did get blog posts (NY Times, Washington Post) and will likely make it into the papers and into some TV coverage.

And, yes, Faux News is at Powershift … notably seeking out the scraggiest looking attendees for interviews outside the event.

Thus, Powershift 2011 does have ‘media coverage’ but the paid journalist representation is nothing like 1 to 10 or even 1 to 100.  Of course, this is partially driven by the number of attendees. 1000 journalists for 10,000 youth climate activists might be asking too much.  But, we aren’t talking 100 journalists on scene. In fact, these 10,000 youth climate activists seemingly ‘merit’ a fraction of the paid staff coverage of a Tea Party corner event.

Working the mediators, the interpreters works.


  1. Powershift merits far more than cursory coverage. The speakers are impressive and exciting. The attendees are diverse and impassioned.  And, well, this crowd leaves the DC Convention Center Monday to make its (their) voice heard outside the Convention halls and into the Halls of Congress.
  2. When you log it to watch Powershift 2011 live there is a rather disconcerting element: you will be treated to a BP advertisement extolling the virtues of BP’s Gulf clean up efforts..  Hmmmm … it is hard to believe that the organizers agreed to this.
  3. Related items include 10,000 Activists in Washington to Discuss Crucial Issue to Mankind; Media Barely Covers It
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Tags: journalism · media

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