Tea Party activists often say the media ignored them when the movement burst onto the political scene in 2009.
They can’t say the same thing about 2010.
Thousands of articles were written over the last 12 months about Tea Party activists, whether it had to do with Scott Brown’s election to the Senate, President Obama’s health-care bill or the year’s midterm elections.
As we look back on those articles, here’s our list of the top 6 of the most covered Tea Party news stories this year:
1. Scott Brown wins Massachusetts Senate seat
It was the Tea Party’s first major political victory: a Republican pledging to vote against President Obama’s health care bill won the Massachusetts Senate seat long-held by the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Tea Party sympathizers from across the country poured money into Brown’s campaign coffers. When he defeated Democrat Martha Coakley, it was viewed as a sign that the Tea Party’s energy was for real — and could be translated into political results.
The most immediate effect, however, was that after Brown’s election, some even declared Obamacare dead. His election was a major setback for Obama’s hopes of getting health care passed in the Senate, as it gave Democrats one less vote than the 60 needed for a filibuster-proof total.
2. Tea Party vows vengeance on members of Congress who voted for health-care
Well, Obamacare turned out not to be so dead, as Democrats found a way to still get it through the House and onto the president’s desk.
But Tea Partiers sure made it a lot harder too pass. They held rallies, and some even came to Washington to storm the halls of Congress to demand that members votes against the legislation.
The passage of the legislation only energized the conservative, grassroots activists even more. They turned their attention to getting revenge at the polls.
The first casualty of this was Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak, who led a group of pro-life Democrats opposed to the bill because of concerns about federal funding of abortion. When his last minute deal with the Democrat leadership allowed the bill to pass, Tea Partiers started donating money to his Republican opponent, and the Tea Party Express named him a top target for defeat.
Before too long, Stupak announced he was retiring his seat and not running for re-election.
3. Tea Partiers fight the racism charge
The narrative pushed by opponents of Tea Party activists that the movement is made up of racists really picked up steam when a number of black members of Congress claimed activists yelled racial epithets at them outside the Capitol.
Despite the absence of any video footage of the alleged remarks, a number of media outlets used the reports to accuse the 25,000-plus activists who protested at the Capitol the weekend of the health care vote of hating not simply President Obama’s health care bill, but all black people.
Unsurprisingly, the Tea Partiers rejected the characterization.
“The media ran with these allegations and made that practically the only mention of the event,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a FreedomWorks staffer who organized anti-health care legislation rallies.
While activists were exhausted rebutting such allegations, a well-known activist, Mark Williams, did not help the cause when he was forced to resign from the Tea Party Express after coming under fire earlier for a racially tinged satirical blogpost about the NAACP.