Media descends on Nashville for first national Tea Party Convention

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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At Nashville’s Gaylord Hotel, where grassroots activists paid more than $500 each to attend the first National Tea Party Convention, the national press has descended. This is despite initial reports that most media outlets would be barred from the Tennessee Ballroom.

“Unlike the promises of this administration, we actually have C-SPAN covering our convention,” convention spokesman Mark A. Skoda said.

“We desire transparency at this convention and have worked with media that are friendly to the Tea Party movement as well as those that have not been seen to be supportive of our efforts.”

Skoda said of the 120 media organizations that asked to cover the convention, the group credentialed 111 members of the press. A notable exception was the host city’s own paper, the Tennessean.

During a interview Thursday with reporters on the convention’s hallways, a reporter from the Nashville paper pressed Skoda on why the Tennessean was not allowed to cover the event. Skoda did not budge. Mark Silverman, editor of the Tennessean, did not return a request for comment.

A print reporter from Brazil, clutching a copy of Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s autobiography, said she’s been pitching a story to her editors on the Tea Party movement and the revival of the Republican Party for over a year.

“After the 2008 elections, we’ve proclaimed them dead,” Andrea Murta of the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper said. “But the tea party has very strong appeal, a populist appeal, that my newspaper is interested in,” she said. Murta said her paper is especially interested in knowing, “who are the people that are behind this.”

Other international media, Skoda said, are coming from Germany, Croatia and Japan.

Organizers say the delegates “will be able to speak with reporters, be interviewed and be given a voice in a way that has not happened during the genesis of the Tea Party movement.”

Organizers have also now arranged for 50 workstations and Wi-Fi for credentialed media and risers for cameramen.

The convention, headlined by Palin on Saturday, has been criticized for its high ticket prices, which some say are keeping grassroots activists from attending. The convention — billed as a way to bring together loosely aligned groups concerned with runaway government spending — has not been embraced by all Tea Party groups across the country, who fear the convention’s leaders are trying to take a leadership role in a movement defined by its lack of centralized leadership.

This afternoon’s activities include a meet and greet and an organized prayer session for activists. The event runs through Saturday night, when Palin is set address the attendees.

‘Unlike the promises of this administration, we actually have C-SPAN covering our convention’:

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