Organizers have reportedly decided that next month's Tea Party convention in Nashville will be closed to the press, except for a few "selected" journalists. The blackout applies to the much-anticipated speeches of Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann. Critics questioned the need for secrecy, but organizers said they just want to hold a "working convention" to transform loosely linked protesters into a national movement. "I don't want the sessions disrupted and overrun with the media," said convention spokesman Judson Phillips. Is holding a party convention behind closed doors un-American, or is keeping the media at bay the best way to get work done?
The Tea Party's insistence on secrecy is scary: "There is something deeply creepy about this," says Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic. The far right wants to cut off the world and marinate in its own juices. But Sarah Palin proved in her campaign that she was one of those populists who "want to speak only to the inner circle," so this is no surprise.
It's their right, but you'd think they'd want the publicity: The organizers have every right to decide how much press they want, says Alex Knapp in Outside the Beltway. But this is puzzling. A group looking to "build a political movement that has credibility and publicity" should want as much press as possible, especially when it has lined up someone with the star power of Sarah Palin.
"Tea Party convention will be closed to the press"
This is especially odd given how much most speakers love attention: "This really is unusual," says David Weigel in The Washington Independent. "As a journalist, I’ve been allowed into sessions, dinners, everything at conferences hosted by the Eagle Forum and by Focus on the Family." And some of the Tea Party gathering's most controversial speakers, like Rick Scarborough, "happily chatted with me inside and outside of their sessions at previous events." Only time will tell why the tea partiers took this route.
"Reporters (mostly) barred from Tea Party convention"