Tea Party Convention Will Be Closed to the Press


The first National Tea Party Convention, which convenes in Nashville next month, will apparently be largely closed to the press–including speeches by Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin.

Word from Nashville on Monday was that the First National Tea Party Convention next month will be closed to the press, other than for a limited number of “selected” journalists. No word on who or how many.

This from the people who brought us last summer’s media-saturated Town Hall meetings.

The restrictions apparently apply to the much-anticipated speeches by Sarah Palin and Minnesota’s own Michele Bachmann.

Organizers say that journalists without passes will not be allowed into the convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. (A Star Tribune request for a pass was denied, the paper’s interest in covering its home-state congresswoman notwithstanding).

Convention spokesman Judson Phillips informs us that most of the sessions are closed “at the request” of the presenters. “Given the media interest, I don’t want the sessions disrupted and overrun with the media,” he said.

While organizers are offering to help set up interviews with speakers, they said Palin will not be available.

It is, of course, the absolutely the event’s right to have as much or as little press as they want. But what I don’t understand is why. If you’re attempting to build a political movement that has credibility and publicity, one would think that you would want as much press as possible. Especially when you have someone like Sarah Palin who’s a guaranteed draw for tons of press and commentary.

It seems to me that the Tea Partiers are shooting themselves in the foot, politically speaking, by not opening their doors to the meida.

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Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. sam says:

    That is too bad. Of course, whatever goes on will come out eventually. Real-time would have been nice, though. As far as shooting themselves in the foot goes, in light of the batshit crazy utterances of some of the participants, they might well be afraid of having their jaws blown off in the press reports.

    I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting meeting. The Tea Partiers have a real circle-squaring problem. I agree with Dave Schuler that the TPers come across as nothing so much as a bunch of populist rentseekers. See this piece, Michigan Tea Partiers Boycott Detroit Auto Show Protest:

    A group of Michigan tea partiers successfully shut down a protest of the Detroit Auto Show arranged by the National Tax Payer’s Union today on the grounds that it was more important to protect American jobs than it was to condemn the government bailout of the auto industry. The AP was on the scene at the protest and found just two tea partiers in attendance. That’s despite a national call for a rally at the show by the National Tax Day Tea Party last week.

    The organizers of the rally hoped to place hundreds of angry tea partiers in the face of White House officials and prominent Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, who visited the show today. Instead, they ran into an online campaign to shut down the protest from Michigan tea partiers who called it an affront to the thousands of Michiganders who rely on the auto industry for a paycheck.

    Government bailouts for me, but not for thee.

  2. Herb says:

    In unrelated news, Dixie Dave Collins of North Carolina metal band, Weeedeater, literally shot himself in the foot.

    I know this not because I’m an ardent follower of the band, but because it was in the press.

  3. Triumph says:

    Gaylord Opryland Hotel

    Is Larry Craig scheduled to speak?

  4. Our Paul says:

    Alex, re:

    It seems to me that the Tea Partiers are shooting themselves in the foot, politically speaking, by not opening their doors to the meida.

    Our bro Sam is quirt right, the tea baggers are not a national unified movement, local issues fuel this strange group. A tad bit of subliminal Obama racism stirs the pot.

    This quote “convention” appears to be a money making proposition; exclusivity is to be expected by its promoters. You are after all talking about $549.00 a pop entrance fee!!!

    I got to chuckle every time the GOP’ers point to this group of malapropos as “evidence” of political ferment. Others have pointed out that they are forcing the party further to the right…

  5. floyd says:

    What press should be allowed?
    Perhaps the relatively unbiased TASS?
    Are they still around, or have they morphed into the AP?

  6. floyd says:

    The lame application of the “race card” to everyone who opposes the Neo-Mars, is intellectually lazy and dishonest.
    I guess… whatever works on a dull audience.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Perhaps the relatively unbiased TASS?
    Are they still around, or have they morphed into the AP?

    intellectually lazy and dishonest.

    You can’t make this stuff up…

  8. Wayne says:

    Maybe they are pulling an Obama. If you feel like a press group has treated you unfairly then deny them access. The difference is that the MSM has treated the Tea Partiers unfairly.

    The problem\strength with the Tea Party is they are a grass root movement. So it would be natural for someone to coop the movement and try to define their message into something it was not. Trying to define the message may seem easier to do without the glaring lights of the media but I think it a mistake to do so.

    If they focus on their main message of too much in taxes and too much spending, they will do fine. If they try to incorporate too many other issues to attract everyone then they will lose their way.

  9. sam says:


    If they focus on their main message of too much in taxes and too much spending

    Wayne, did you read my comment at the top? For Tea Party folks it more a matter of too much tax and too much spending of that kind; however, spending of this kind is just fine. Like I said, a bunch of populist rentseekers — who want the goodies, but don’t want to pay for them.

  10. Drew says:

    Given the current state of “the press,” and with no illusions that they will do anything but a balls out hatchet job, I find the decision quite rational.

    Woodth that you would write about the blackout of the health care debate, Alex……

  11. Our Paul says:

    Wrong shot across the bow, Floyd. In any type of discourse you do not mock the messenger when you wish to refute his message.

    To understand the non unification of the tea baggers one has to go back to the 2009 August Congressional recess. Marc Ambinder examined the groups then, but did not emphasize the prominence of Texas money in the root structure of the competing leadership. His article is worth a quick read today.

  12. spago says:


    Who cares? And further even if I disagree with you ideologically why is it that a lot of your posts rarely offer any real incite?

  13. floyd says:

    Our Paul;
    You are, of course,correct.
    I don’t.
    It was (apparently) more incite than insight![lol]

  14. floyd says:

    OH…Yes I can! Stick around….[lol]

  15. sam says:

    This quote “convention” appears to be a money making proposition; exclusivity is to be expected by its promoters. You are after all talking about $549.00 a pop entrance fee!!!

    Along those lines:

    The organizer of the National Tea Party Convention, at which Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann will speak next month, cynically took advantage of conservative activists’ willingness to work on behalf of the Tea Party cause in his bid to launch a money-making enterprise, according to one fellow Tea Partier.

    Kevin Smith told TPMmuckraker that Judson Phillips, the Nashville defense lawyer behind the upcoming National Tea Party Convention, abruptly turned Tea Party Nation into a for-profit corporation last year, shocking fellow activists who had discussed setting up the fledgling group as a non-profit.

    “I can’t even describe to you the anger we had with him, using our volunteer labor and our passion for the movement to build his start-up,” said Smith.

    I’m afraid that, in the end, these Tea Party folks are going to turn out to be nothing more than rube marks for the carnies.

  16. Gustopher says:

    The angry rabble are being transformed into paying consumers for Rabble Rousers Inc. Is there any reason that this should not amuse me?

  17. Wayne says:

    I not sure protesting a car show is much of a protest against big government spending. Detroit has amazingly been protective of the auto industry. Big surprise.

    Is it a example of not in my back yard? Yes but to draw a conclusion on the group as a whole because a very small sample is being prejudice. Nebraskans being upset with Nelson selling out for sweetheart deal he cut is a good example in the other direction. There have been more examples of the tea party members willing to give up benefits in exchange for lower taxes and less spending.

    The problem is people fall in the trap that if this groups gets bailout then I want one two. The only other choice for a long time now is that others get money and you get nothing. From what I seen of tea party members in general is to cut out all unnecessary spending.

    Does that mean to eliminate all spending? Only to a moronic liberal thinker. We need a military, inspectors, etc but we need to prioritize.

    Like a said before if they can stick to their main message and not get sucker with bribes, they can do fine.