US News and World Report reported that the nature of the coverage of the protests has become part of the story. On CNN's Situation Room, journalist Howard Kurtz commented that 'much of the media seems to have chosen sides.' He says that Fox News portrayed the protests 'as a big story, CNN as a modest story, and MSNBC as a great story to make fun of. And for most major newspapers, it's a nonstory.' There were reports that the movement had been actively promoted by the Fox News Channel..
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According to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a progressive media watchdog, there is a disparity between large coverage of the Tea Party movement and minimal coverage of larger movements. In 2009, the major Tea Party protests were quoted twice as often as the National Equality March despite a much lower turnout. In 2010, a Tea Party protest was covered 59 times more than the US Social Forum (177 Tea Party mentions versus 3 for Social Forum) despite an attendance that was 25 times smaller in size (600 Tea Party attendees versus at least 15,000 for Social Forum)..
Following the September 12 Taxpayer March on Washington, Fox News said it was the only cable news outlet to cover the emerging protests and took out full-page ads in The Washington Post, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal with a prominent headline reading, 'How did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN miss this story?' CNN news anchor Rick Sanchez disputed Fox's assertion, pointing to various coverage of the event. CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CBS Radio News provided various forms of live coverage of the rally in Washington throughout the day on Saturday, including the lead story on CBS Evening News.
James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times said MSNBC's attacks on the tea parties paled compared to Fox's support, but that MSNBC personalities Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews were hardly subtle in disparaging the movement. Howard Kurtz has said that, 'These [FOX] hosts said little or nothing about the huge deficits run up by President Bush, but Barack Obama's budget and tax plans have driven them to tea. On the other hand, CNN and MSNBC may have dropped the ball by all but ignoring the protests.