Republicans are convinced that tea party coverage has become an effort to “other-ize” conservatives. In the words of Mike Murphy, who’s currently living the rugged life of a Meg Whitman consultant:
“These young reporters fly to the wilds of Oklahoma or Kentucky, find a bunch of folks in Uncle Sam suits hollering and come back thinking they’ve got some hot scoop.”
This is, obviously, loaded criticism, with the implication being that the nattering nabobs of the East Coast just don’t understand the real America. I take issue with this. If a political movement, however loosely aggregated, is driving the policies of one party, it deserves copious and probing coverage. Yes, it’s frustrating for liberals that a few hundred tea party activists can steal the headlines by packing into town hall meetings. But understanding why that happened, how social networks and technology made that possible, and whether or not their worries were well-founded — that is obviously a job for political journalists.