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As counter-media fuels tea party movement, main stream media catches on

The mainstream media ‘can no longer control the narrative’ of American culture, contends counter-media mogul Andrew Breitbart in a fiery speech to Tea Party Conventioneers. But that doesn’t mean tea partiers are saying ‘no comment’ to establishment reporters.

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Jabs at the mainstream media

But while the roomful of tea partiers stood up at several of Breitbart's jabs and pointed to the TV cameras at the back of the room, the fact that there were TV cameras there at all partly undermined Breitbart’s point that mainstream reporters are totally out of touch.

Convention organizers realized it, too. After originally banning all but a few mostly conservative outlets, the organizers ultimately opened the convention doors wide, even allowing media into Sarah Palin’s speech tonight.

True, some of the ensuing coverage has been critical and snide. But the willingness of people like California tea party activist Heather Gass to speak her mind to mainstream reporters may do as much, or more, to legitimize the tea party movement as the counter-media’s attention.

"People can now see who we are and they can see that we’re not dangerous,” says Ms. Gass. “We’re their neighbors.”

Not everyone agrees. One caller to C-Span – which aired nearly the entire convention – said the sight of primarily white and older self-described “patriots” frightened her. She said the gathering looked like a lynch mob.

But the fact is that the 200-plus old-school reporters attending the convention is giving the potent but inchoate movement something it craves and, ultimately, needs: respect.

That includes a Swedish radio reporter who sent an earnest piece back to Sveriges Radio on Friday, explaining how a modern-day tax revolt movement that appeared at first to be woefully fringe is looking more and more mainstream.

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