Making the Tea Party Republican: Media Bias and Framing in Newspapers and Cable News

Patrick Rafail, John D. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Research on the Tea Party emphasizes the role of Fox News in magnifying the movement’s early successes. Fox News is credited with legitimizing the Tea Party’s grievances, allowing the movement to make rapid inroads into the Republican Party. We argue that such depictions of the Tea Party’s relationship to the Republican Party are at least partially the product of an oversimplified media narrative emphasizing the seamless integration of the two. We analyze 201,678 media documents from blog posts from Tea Party organizations, Fox News, MSNBC, and 785 newspapers. Our results show marked differences between how the Tea Party frames itself compared with other media sources frame the movement. MSNBC and Fox News discuss the Tea Party strategically, respectively, treating the movement as representing the worst and best aspects of the Republican Party. This is in stark contrast to how the activists frame the movement as conservative, but not strictly Republican, and often in conflict with the goals of the Republican Party.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-437
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Currents
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


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