MEDIA HANDPICKED BY TEABAGGERS…. A group called “Tea Party Nation” is hosting a national convention for right-wing activists next month, and the assumption that organizers would want to generate as much media attention as possible is proving false.
Reporters from around the world have expressed an interest in covering the event, but organizers announced this week that the convention would be closed to the press — except for a few “selected” outlets.
Yesterday, Tea Party Nation announced the lucky few who’ll be able to cover the festivities. It’s quite a collection: Fox News, Breitbart.com, Townhall.com, the Wall Street Journal, and WorldNetDaily. That’s one cable news network, one newspaper, and three websites, one of which (WND) publishes radical conspiracy theories on a daily basis.
This isn’t especially surprising, and it’s not difficult to figure out why these five were hand-picked — right-wing activists want favorable coverage, so they chose outlets most likely to stick to the script. Why allow a professional journalist from an independent outlet to cover an event, if he/she may publish reports that organizers don’t like?
Michael Calderone noted the larger context:
While organizers will claim ideology isn’t a part of the selection, the result is that out of hundreds of outlets from around the world, three right-leaning websites and two Rupert Murdoch-owned news organizations are the only ones being let in.
Fox News heavily promoted tea party rallies around the country last year, but it’s difficult to argue that the Journal’s news pages have covered the movement much more than many other news outlets that may have tried to get a pass.
And considering that both Fox News and the Journal regularly balk at claims that their news product — as opposed to commentary — is partisan, will they join three right-leaning outlets while other non-partisan outlets aren’t granted access?
I assume Fox News and the WSJ will accept their special Teabagging status, but in truth, this is a rather humiliating moment for both. It’s no doubt intended to be flattering, but Tea Party Nation is effectively signaling to Fox News and the WSJ that the right considers them partisan and unprofessional, on par with WorldNetDaily, a radical website recently described by a conservative blogger as peddling “fringe idiocy.”
Ideally, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal would feel insulted and reject the invitations. I kind of doubt that will happen.
Update: A reliable source tells me that no one from the news site of the WSJ will be at the Tea Party convention, so if someone from the paper accepts the invitation, it would be from the far-right editorial page. This hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it’s something to keep in mind.