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David Corn, Professional Journalist, Intuits the News

12:45 PM, Apr 16, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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There were many travesties in yesterday's coverage of the nation's tea parties. There was a CNN reporter's brave attack on a father and his two-year old. There was the implication by NBC's Chuck Todd that the parties were orchestrated by the RNC, and the JournoList-approved talking point that that they were somehow "corporate," when a forensic look at the organizing reveals it started with a Seattle mom who had never done a political event until this February.

There was the irony of a bunch of retirees, young families, and veterans being lectured about coarsening the debate by their allegedly sophisticated, liberal intellectual betters who were simultaneously making hackneyed oral sex jokes every time they could manage. All of it betrayed a misunderstanding of the people involved in these events and a willful avoidance of the professional effort necessary to correct that misunderstanding. David Corn admits as much in his short write-up for CQ:

I purposefully did not pay much attention to the so-called tea parties of protest held yesterday by right-wingers upset by President Barack Obama. This was an event ginned up by a few conservative commentators and given undue coverage by an overly excited Fox News. Why bother with it?

If he had bothered to pay attention to something he's writing about, he might have found that more than 800 protests held simultaneously across America in cities big and small, from Siler City to San Francisco-on a bad weather day and with great turn-out, conducted by the half of the country that's notoriously bad at protesting-were more than ginned up events.

But here comes the keen reporting, done as he was leaving the White House press briefing (oooh, ahhhh) and glimpsed several signs held by protesters who were at one of the 800 protests. He didn't talk to them, but he inferred plenty:

But on Wednesday, as I left the daily press briefing at the White House, I had to pass by two hundred or so soggy teabaggers.

Teabaggers? Cue the rimshot!

And what I saw convinced me that many of them were--oh, how to put this politely--too dumb to know to come in from out of the rain. How could I tell? The signs they carried. The messages painted on the placards included, "Taxes are theft"; "It's my money"; "Give me my money back"; "Say No To Taxes"; and the like. There also were numerous signs blasting Obama as a socialist. (By the way, unless you want to dismantle Medicare, you, too, are a socialist.)

Sober, fair assessment, this one. He's welcome to quibble with their signs, but asking the sign-holders about their signs might be more productive for someone wishing to understand a story. Corn assumes that "It's my money" is the battle cry of only the strictest of libertarians who wish to abolish all taxes, thereby constructing for himself a useful straw man to bat around. But I actually went to a tea party, in a small town in North Carolina. It was filled with retirees trying to protect their grandchildren from debt, mothers of two with "Don't Tread on Me" flags, sweet church-going ladies with American flags flying from their Hover-Rounds. This was not a raucous, conspiracy-theorizing, anti-government crowd of revolutionaries.