It was announced last week that GOP Sen. Rand Paul will be giving the “official” Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. In previous years it was Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann (who CNN carried live).
There hasn’t been any indication yet of whether the media will carry Paul’s response live, but it should be noted that to do so would be a total farce. There is no such thing as the Tea Party. It is simply a fringe wing of the Republican Party. Rand Paul is, of course, a Republican. He represents the views of the rest of his party, as well as those of the person giving the official GOP response to the President, Marco Rubio (who is also a Tea Partier).
What this means is that the GOP is trying to get two bites of the post-SOTU apple. The media should not fall for this ruse. Paul was even quoted on CNN as saying that his remarks would not be competing with Rubio’s and would just be “extra.” Therefore, coverage of his comments would only serve to double up the opposition to Obama’s speech.
The Tea Party has recently sunk to new lows in support from the American people. Their caucus in congress is much smaller than that of the Democrats Progressive Caucus (Tea Party, 49; Progressive, 71), despite having more Republicans in the House.
If the media is intent on giving undeserved attention to the Tea Party, fairness would require them to give equal time to a progressive response. Perhaps they could invite Bernie Sanders to respond to the President. He would surely articulate a message that differs from the administration in greater measure than Paul would differ from Rubio. Or maybe they could call on Carolyn Maloney, whose advocacy of reforms for gun safety would be a timely subject.
In any case, it would be unethical for the media to grant an unpopular fringe group the opportunity to propagandize the nation when they already have an official spokesman in Rubio. And if they did so without balancing the coverage by presenting a progressive response it would affirm their right-wing bias. Will the media act unethically? Well, it aint like they haven’t before.