CNN published an article by Shannon Travis yesterday,“Has the Tea Party ‘Sold Out’ to the Mainstream GOP?,” that illustrates why that once dominant media company is now failing.
I received a phone call from Mr. Travis at 11 pm Saturday night as I was driving back the 310 miles from the Bristol Motor Speedway to my home in Nashville. Over the weekend, I had been part of a group of “Volunteers for Virginia” who had driven the round trip between Nashville and the Bristol Motor Speedway where we spent two days at the NASCAR race registering Virginia residents to vote. As might be expected, we learned during our stay there that the large crowd of 165,000 was almost entirely conservative, pro-tea party, and pro-Romney. With the exception of one union member from Toledo, Ohio every single person we spoke with or registered to vote was intensely committed to defeating Obama in November.
Mr. Travis, who had interviewed me previously about my role as the co-founder of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, the informal group of local tea party leaders from around the country who launched the Tea Party movement in a conference call on February 20, 2009, wanted to get a “grassroots” perspective for his story. But it became apparent through his questions that he had already written the narrative of his story and was simply looking for a few “grassroots quotes” he could throw in to support that misleading narrative.
Mr. Travis was trying to support his theme that the grassroot activists in the Tea Party were somehow upset by our level of involvement at the Republican National Convention.
I told him he was asking the wrong question, that grassroots activists are focused on get-out-the-vote projects like Volunteers for Virginia. ” We’re not upset about the level of engagement or visibility the grassroots of the Tea Party movement is receiving at the Republican National Convention,” I told him. “We’re focused on getting-out-the-vote, which is far more important in my mind than the convention. If you’re writing a story about what the various ‘national groups’ are doing at the Republican National Convention, you’re not writing about the far more significant story of the great grassroots get-out-the-vote effort.”
“Volunteers for Virginia” is a collaborative project announced last week by grassroots leaders from the red states of Texas and Tennessee designed to help WeRVirginia, the independent get-out-the-vote effort, to defeat Barack Obama in that state this November.
“The real issue you should be focusing on, Mr. Travis, is the phenomenal level of commitment at the grassroots level going on right now to get-the-vote-out to defeat Barack Obama in November,” I said. “In addition to our own “Volunteers for Virginia” project, you should be writing about the “Paint Florida Red” project that the Birmingham Alabama RainyDayPatriots.org Tea Party and Zan Green have launched, as well as the “NobamaNevada” project that the Bay Area Patriots in San Francisco and Sally Zelikovsky have launched. That’s the real story,” I told him.
Not surprisingly, none of my comments made it in to Mr. Travis’s story, because they didn’t fit his incorrect preconceived narrative. Here’s the story Mr. Travis wrote:
Is the tea party changing the Republican Party from the inside — or selling out to the GOP?
As Republicans prepare to officially roll out Mitt Romney as their party’s presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention this week, major tea party groups and figures have descended on Tampa, Florida, to schmooze with party bigwigs and rally for Romney.
But Romney’s conservative credentials have long been viewed with suspicion by the movement. So it came as a surprise when, before at least one event, tea party organizers committed what some activists would consider heresy: seeking approval from establishment Republicans to rally.
How much of a damper will Isaac be to convention?
All of it has opened up a once unthinkable charge: the movement that’s rabble-roused and rocked the GOP establishment since 2009 is now too cozy with it.
“The top national groups have already sold out,” said Judd Saul, a prominent Iowa activist associated with the Cedar Valley Tea Party. “They don’t truly represent the grassroots.”
“Even before the caucuses, these guys were all pushing for Romney even when the primaries were going on,” Saul added.
“It’s a pretty widespread (sentiment). A lot of activists have noticed that.
CNN’s ratings are falling because viewers are tired of this kind of slanted reporting.
Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.