Posted on | March 29, 2010 | 22 Comments
Doug from Reno was standing about 50 yards from the stage at Saturday’s “Showdown in Searchlight,” two hours before the official noon start of the rally featuring Sarah Palin. He was part of a huge crowd already gathering for the big first-day event of the Tea Party Express tour, and U.S. Highway 95 was backed up for more than a mile in either direction as thousands more made their way into the dusty lot a couple miles north of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s hometown.
He was wearing a National Rifle Association cap and mirrored sunglasses, and had a sticker on his shirt promoting a conservative website, DumpReid.com. Doug held aloft a large hand-lettered sign: “Karl Marx and Mao Were Not Founding Fathers!”
So far as most major media organizations are concerned, he was just another dangerous right-wing crackpot, but most major media organizations never actually talked to Doug or others like him among the thousands of grassroots activists who showed up in Searchlight. With few exceptions, what brought reporters to Saturday’s rally was the opportunity to do what they have been doing in their Tea Party coverage for more than a year: Highlight negative “gotcha” moments to discredit the movement as a dangerous collection of hate-filled, misinformed lunatics, meanwhile asking attendees questions along the lines of, “Who do you consider to be the leader of your movement?” . . .
Please read the whole thing. Actually meeting and talking to people is so much more productive than treating them as superficial stereotypes. It’s also a lot more fun.
I’m now blogging from the Arizona home of Barbara Espinosa, whom I first met in August at the Right Online conference in Pittsburgh. When I first met Barbara, I was surprised to learn she was a blogger (see “Grandma Is an Angry Mob“) and I had no idea that she was such a well-know activist. She’s on a first-name basis with Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth and congressional candidate Vernon Parker, both of whom I’ll be interviewing later today in Phoenix.
It was the tip-jar hitters — contributors to the Shoe Leather Fund — who sent me to that Pittsburgh conference where I first met Barbara, and the tip-jar hitters have since sent me to Kentucky, New York, Florida, Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Alabama, and now to Nevada and Arizona.
Saturday in Vegas, after I got back from Searchlight, I was talking with a reporter from a major news organization who was amazed that this kind of reader-supported journalism is possible. And it’s only possible because of you — the few, the proud, the tip-jar hitters. Thanks for all you do.