Herman Cain will be delivering the Tea Party response to the State of the Union tonight—not that any basic cable viewers will notice. The three major cable news networks, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN will not carry Cain's address at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., The Atlantic Wire has learned.
"We don't plan on taking it," an MSNBC spokesperson told us. A Fox News spokesperson said Cain's address will not be broadcast but a live feed will appear on FoxNews.com. A spokesperson for CNN said the network makes its coverage decisions "on a case-by-case basis and decided not to air Mr. Cain’s response following Governor Daniels GOP response tonight." A representative did note that Cain had appeared on CNN several times in the last week.
The Tea Party's response to the State of the Union was made somewhat famous last year when Rep. Michele Bachmann's askew delivery gave birth to the Bachmann crazy eyes meme. That year, Fox News and MSNBC missed out on the cultural moment while CNN broadcast it live following the official GOP response.
Cain will not be happy about their decisions but you can see the dilemma the news networks would be creating for themselves if they set the precedent of carrying his speech. The two-party system is a convenient way to decide who gets to speak on State of the Union nights: the President and someone from the other party. If the Tea Party Express-sponsored address gets air time, where do you draw the line? Occupy Wall Street? Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow? Still, the Tea Party movement is a legitimate force in American politics with its own caucus and a significant amount of political clout. Get ready for a clarion call about mainstream media bias.
We reached out to Cain's chief of strategy and development Mark Block who said he had heard that at least one network would carry the address. We will update if the Cain camp has further comment. For tonight, the approximately 7-minute address will be streaming live at TeaPartyExpress.org.