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ABC Hypes NAACP Indictment of Tea Party as Racist, a Smear the Network Stoked

Four months after ABC's World News spent a weekend defaming anti-ObamaCare Tea Party protesters as "very ugly" with "reports of racial and homophobic slurs," citing "protesters roaming Washington, some of them increasingly emotional, yelling slurs and epithets," Tuesday's newscast, unlike those on CBS and NBC, credentialed the NAACP's charge that the "Tea Party movement is a threat to the pursuit of human rights, justice and equality for all."

Sans any ideological label, anchor Diane Sawyer set up the full July 13 story: "The nation's oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP, has just adopted a resolution this evening at its annual convention condemning quote, 'racist behavior by Tea Party members.'" Reporter Dan Harris relayed:

The NAACP points to the racial epithets allegedly hurled at black members of Congress by Tea Party members during the health care debate and to the racist signs that critics say they spotted at Tea Party events to support its conclusion that the "Tea Party movement is a threat to the pursuit of human rights, justice and equality for all."

Going to a Tea Party leader who is black, Harris pressed: "We've all seen the signs. There have been signs that compare Barack Obama to a monkey, there have been signs that have had the 'n' word on them. When you see those signs, how do you feel?"

Harris, however, did at least quote Sarah Palin's tweet asking: "Are liberty-loving, equality-respecting patriots racist?" And, citing an ABC News/Washington Post survey, he noted "the biggest reasons people join the Tea Party are politics and ideology, rather than views on race."

Back in March, BiasAlert archive:

Saturday, March 20: "ABC: Anti-ObamaCare Protest 'Turned Very Ugly' with 'Racial and Homophobic Slurs'"

Sunday, March 21: "ABC's Sawyer: 'Protesters Roaming' DC, 'Increasingly Emotional, Yelling Slurs and Epithets'"

Plus, from March 21: "CBS: 'Mean from the Start' Health Debate 'Turned Even Nastier Yesterday' with 'Racial Epithets' and 'Sexual Slurs'"

From the Tuesday, July 13 ABC World News:

DIANE SAWYER: Also on politics, a controversy surrounding the Tea Party. The nation's oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP, has just adopted a resolution this evening at its annual convention condemning quote, "racist behavior by Tea Party members." Tonight, the Tea Party is fighting back and here's Dan Harris.

DAN HARRIS: The NAACP points to the racial epithets allegedly hurled at black members of Congress by Tea Party members during the health care debate and to the racist signs that critics say they spotted at Tea Party events to support its conclusion that the "Tea Party movement is a threat to the pursuit of human rights, justice and equality for all." At the group's annual meeting in Kansas City, the resolution had plenty of support.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When we turn on the television and see posters and fliers that send very frightening messages to our community, we have to address it.

HARRIS: Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin called the resolution "divisive," asking today on Twitter: "Are liberty-loving, equality-respecting patriots racist?" David Webb is the co-founder of the New York City Tea Party.

DAVID WEBB, TEA PARTY 365: I think the NAACP, in its march towards irrelevancy as an organization, needs an enemy to maintain its power base.

HARRIS, TO WEBB: Let me push you a little bit.

WEBB: Sure.

HARRIS, TO WEBB: We've all seen the signs. There have been signs that compare Barack Obama to a monkey, there have been signs that have had the "n" word on them. When you see those signs, how do you feel?

WEBB: They're offensive. They don't belong there, but there will always be fringe elements.

HARRIS: The biggest reasons people join the Tea Party are politics and ideology, rather than views on race. But today, the NAACP rejected the charge that it's playing politics.

BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: We have no problem with the Tea Party, we have a problem with the Tea Party tolerating racists in their ranks.

HARRIS: This race-based fight shows no signs of letting up. The NAACP is planning an anti-Tea Party march on Washington this fall. Dan Harris, ABC News, New York.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.