KSL’s Coverage of Bob Bennett and the Tea Party Movement

KSL’s recent coverage of the ouster of Senator Bob Bennett from the United States senate apparently as a result of the Tea Party’s activism appears superficial and is noteworthy for a number of reasons. For example, on Friday night editorial director Duane Cardall read the following statement:

Bob Bennett in Tea Party exchange Senator Bob Bennett has served the people of Utah well for nearly 18-years.

It’s unfortunate the general populace didn’t have opportunity to decide whether or not he should be retired at the end of his third term. Instead, his fate rested in the hands of a few thousand delegates at last weekend’s state GOP convention who seemed determined to defeat him, whatever the cost.

Senator Bennett certainly has solid conservative credentials, but also an understanding of the art of political compromise and the ability to work closely with those of all persuasions. It is a gift sorely lacking in today’s divisively toxic political climate. And, sadly it is an attribute that likely contributed to his defeat as anti-Washington fervor spreads across the nation.

KSL doesn’t endorse candidates, and our criticism of what happened last Saturday should not be construed necessarily as support for Senator Bennett’s re-election. Our concern is the way he was so unceremoniously, even boisterously defeated by a system that rewards extremist rhetoric more than rational dialogue. That this dedicated and capable public servant would be roundly booed, even vilified by resolution, speaks volumes about the tenuous nature of politics today.

For all he’s done for Utah, Bob Bennett deserved better.1

While the editorial rightly pointed out the polarizing nature of political debate in a two-party system, it entirely missed the point that Utah citizens deserve more from its elected officials. Senator Bennett serves in the senate at the behest of the citizens of the state – not the other way around. Also, while political compromise may seem laudatory, at what point do the statist policies of an ever encroaching government end and personal responsibility and accountability stand firm?

State delegate Connor Boyack recently commented on the senator’s seeming lack of principle:

Senator Bennett did not lose because of TARP, his health care bill, or any one vote. He lost because his voting record as a whole was substandard and without excuse. He lost because he had shown through repeated votes that he was no friend of the Constitution. He lost because he was not a truth teller; last year he derided the Constitution as “an outmoded document for an agrarian society,” while as recently as last week, while trying to court Constitution-loving delegates, said such things as “I yield to no one in my respect and love for the Constitution,” and “My oath of office to uphold and defend [the Constitution] is as sacred to me as any other covenant I have ever made.” He even went so far as to state that he refers to himself as a “constitutionalist”. In the end, Senator Bennett’s record spoke far louder than his words—especially those preceding an important election.

Our beloved commentator referenced above concluded his diatribe with the following: “The departure of Senator Bob Bennett is a small event in a national tidal wave of witless extremism and thoughtlessness.” He errs in assuming that the delegates have given no thought to their actions. To the contrary, most delegates spent several hours per day assuming their duties and preparing to cast an informed vote. Far from extreme, these delegates have been selected as guardians of the party, and ultimately determined that the incumbent did not sufficiently adhere to the party’s platform and the Constitution to which he swore an oath, despite his alleged respect and love for it.2

This morning in KSL’s Sunday Edition, Bruce Lindsay interviewed Senator Bennett and followed that up with an interview with Utah Tea Party organizer David Kirkham. Part of the first interview focused on Bennett’s support of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). In this exchange, Bennett said:

I believed that the crisis was real, I still believe that the crisis was real and I still believe that if TARP had not passed we would have financial and economic problems far worse than we have now. Looking back on it I believe that it was the correct vote and I would cast it the same today if faced with set of facts.3

Like many other elected officials, he seems completely unaware of the underlying principles of Keynesian economics and the history of government intervention in the economy.4 For whatever reason, Mr. Lindsay simply did not pursue Bennett’s understanding of economic policy nor China’s role in precipitating the bailout.5 Senator Bennett only seems convinced that more government intervention was necessary in order to preclude another economic depression.

Following that exchange, the focus then turned to Utah’s Tea Party movement:

Sen. Bennett’s ouster at the Republican convention was supported by the Tea Party movement. David Kirkham says he does not know if the movement orchestrated the ouster, but it was one of the goals.

The movement’s primary objection to Bennett was his vote for TARP. Sen. Bennett “voted for TARP and that was a vote that basically pushed us off a cliff,” explains Kirkham. Kirkham does not believe the vote saved America from a depression. He says, “The American people would have figured out a way to resolve the problem.”

Another concern of the Tea Party movement is making sure politicians are listening to the people. Kirkham says even though Sen. Orrin Hatch also voted for TARP, Hatch has listened to their group, unlike Bennett.

Kirkham started the Tea Party because of Bennett.

“It’s an issue of responsibility. Those votes were absolutely irresponsible with our finances and our future. We don’t care which party you’re from, if you are irresponsible we will vote you out. And if you are responsible, regardless of party, we will vote you in,” Kirkham says.6

While there was certainly not sufficient time, surely KSL could have explored Kirkham’s purported views of “fiscal responsibility” in expanded online coverage of the exchange or a follow-up series of interviews.

The lack of any real substance in the short editorial and interviews only underscore the broadcast corporation’s role in continuing the myth of the mainstream media (MSM) and its role in perpetuating the “establishment”, whether in Utah or other city states. Seemingly, neither KSL nor the MSM can figure out the tea party.

What do you make of all this?

Sources:

  1. Senator Bennett”. 14 May 2010. KSL.com. 16 May 2010.
  2. Why Senator Bennett Lost”. 12 May 2010. Connor’s Conundrums. 16 May 2010.
  3. Sen. Bennett and the Tea Party Movement”. 16 May 2010. KSL.com. 16 May 2010; hereafter Bennett and Utah Tea Party.
  4. For example, see the posts on Keynesian Economics and Savings and Participatory Fascism; see also Henry Hazlitt’s The Failure of the “New Economics” and Congressman Ron Paul’s statement before the U.S. House of Representatives in the second paragraph of “The Austrians Were Right”. 20 Nov 2008. Lew Rockwell. 16 May 2010.
  5. See Congressman Peter DeFazio’s comments in the post China and the Bailout.
  6. Bennett and Utah Tea Party.

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  1. Russ’s avatar

    KSL filled with the same agenda wielding progressive commentators as any other media outlet. Just because they are owned by the church does not mean they are politically neutral. Bennett is just as corrupted by the political system as Harry Reid and Senator Hatch. The reaction of Bennett with his desire to run as an independent is very telling of his true goal. Not the defense of the Constitution, but his desire to keep his political power. He does not care one bit for the founding fathers and the Constitution.

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton

  2. Ardis E. Parshall’s avatar

    “No friend of the Constitution” “Does not care one bit for the founding fathers and the Constitution.”

    What inward, narrow-minded, small-brained, parochial and STUPID judgments to pass on these men! How foolish and selfish of anyone to declare that the men and women elected to Congress despise the Constitution because they don’t see the world through your narrow lens! Your ignorance of history is astounding (do you think there was ever a moment, a single moment, when your revered “founding fathers” were in total agreement as to the best way to effect some policy?).

    I would not have voted for Bennett in the upcoming election, but I am sickened that the narrow-minded likes of Connor Boyack were able to block Bennett from running again with such astoundingly bigoted and empty judgments as “no friend of the Constitution.”

  3. John’s avatar

    Please share with us your wisdom here…what would have happened to our country had the government not intervened with TARP?

  4. Greg’s avatar

    Russ – It seems apparent that KSL was not prepared in their coverage of Senator Bennett’s ouster and did not do due diligence on the Tea Party.

    Ardis – Although it may not have been intentional, your comments are reminiscent of Rex E. Lee’s statement that the so-called “divinely inspired” constitution “was more an involvement in process than in end result.” Would you be willing to share your thoughts on why you will not vote for Bennett?

    John – Many have pointed out the consequences of repeated government intervention, most prominently the Austrian economists as suggested in the references in footnote #4 above. That TARP was not necessary, see TARP After One Year: Was It Necessary? Did it Work?

  5. Mark D.’s avatar

    Ardis P: ” I am sickened that … were able to block Bennett from running again”

    What are you talking about? No one blocked anyone from “running”. Bennett has been running a campaign for several months now. Not only that, he has yet to announce that he has quit running. What Bennett has lost is the Republican nomination, by the same process that nominated him as the Republican candidate for Senate in three previous elections.

    I was at the convention, by the way, and the treatment of Senator Bennett was a model of decorum, with one exception: There was a chorus of cheers that went up when it became clear that he would not be among the top two nominees. I think that was uncalled for.

  6. Mark D.’s avatar

    By the way, the KSL editorial is wrong on the facts. Senator Bennett was not “roundly booed”. He was given polite applause even by those who supported other candidates, and was sincerely applauded when the delegates were invited by the chair to thank him for his long service.

    He wasn’t “vilified” by resolution either. There was a resolution before the delegates to express the sense of the convention that both “Obamacare” and the Wyden-Bennett health care bill included unconstitutional individual mandates.

    It reminds me of the recent press conference with Chris Christie, where he responded to the suggestion that people in politics shouldn’t have any arguments or express opposition to anything in a straightforward manner. If you put your name on a bill to reform one sixth of the U.S. economy, someone might just mention it a time or two.

  7. Russ’s avatar

    Ardis, Why all the venom? Is it possible that you are also filled with sour grapes, as is Bennet, regarding the fact that the process set up by the Founding Fathers is working. Your opinions seemed to be based on the false assumption that the Founders were just men who had no guidance from the creator that they all believed in. And yes there was a single moment that they were all in agreement, in fact there were two, the moment of the signing of both the Declaration and the Constitution.
    Who has the narrow lens mister “I will just strike out blindly when I think someone is wrong.” Why don’t you let your so called ‘facts’ speak for themselves.

    Lashing our in hate is the result of a weak argument and a weak personality. It is obvious from your attack on the founders that you despise the Founders and everything they stood for. I have nothing but pity for your flawed arguments.

  8. Connor’s avatar

    Ardis, what you apparently consider to be “inward, narrow-minded, small-brained, parochial and STUPID judgments”, I consider to be a simple and honest analysis of some of Bennett’s votes in light of the limited powers conferred to the federal government in the Constitution.

    If you’d like to back up this adjective-heavy indictment with some actual argument, I’d love to understand how you think, for example, that Congress has any authority to bail out banks, require individuals to purchase a product or service, offer taxpayer money to one industry over another, etc.

    I am surprised, quite frankly, that you have labeled my judgment of Bennett “bigoted”. If you actually clicked through to the link, you might notice some deeper analysis than you have here provided in explaining your thoughts.

    How about taking a deep breath, considering the arguments made, and responding with some civil discussion rather than fire and brimstone?

    Oh, and as noted above, you are incorrect in claiming that we as state delegates “blocked Bennett from running again”. He’s still able to run as a write-in (and may or may not), and can seek the Republican nomination in future elections.

  9. Aaron’s avatar

    I shed no tears for Bob Bennett. He’s a big boy. He’ll survive. I wonder, though, if our nation would have survived without TARP, odious as it might have been. If it’s wrong for the federal government to do something like that, why is it not wrong for the government to help people and communities after disasters through FEMA and the Small Business Administration? What is the constitutional justification for that? Isn’t that just another form of socialism?

  10. Mark D.’s avatar

    For the record, it might be helpful to note that Senator Bennett has now graciously submitted to the process he signed up for and declined to run as an independent.

  11. Seth’s avatar

    Great blog post and great website. Keep up the great work here!

  12. Russ’s avatar

    Mark,

    It does not change the fact that he is corrupt. He just knows he cannot win and is out.

  13. Greg’s avatar

    Hi Russ – what do you mean by “corrupt” just to clarify?

  14. Russ’s avatar

    He has sold his constituents out for his own aggrandizement. He only cares for his own power. One must be willing to donate money if they want to have a face to face. HE IS CORRUPTED, HIS SOUL IS DEAD!!!

    Is that clear enough for you? How can I make it any clearer as to what I mean?

  15. Greg’s avatar

    Thanks for the clarification Russ.

  16. Dave C.’s avatar

    KSL has been pushing a big government, pro-Bennett, pro-illegal immigration agenda for quite some time now. Duane Cardall is part of this movement as well.

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