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Tax Day Tea Party

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Tax Day Tea Party (now known as the Patriot Action Network) claims to be, according to its website, "a grassroots, collaborative volunteer organization made up of every day American citizens from across the country. We take pride in the fact that we've built a 50 state network of leaders and activists using nothing more than the internet, a few websites and a burning desire to restore freedom." The Tea Party movement is one of the primary groups disrupting the summer 2009 town hall meetings held by Democrats and moderate Republicans, along with The 912 Project.[1]

The Tax Day Tea Party Web site is produced and operated by a company called Strategic Action, LLC, operated by Eric Odom. Strategic Action offers "online campaign consulting at all levels, social media consulting, online community development, organization new media immersion training, internet based activism campaigns and much more!" The "ultimate goal" of the company, and Eric Odom, "is to advance the free-market movement and fiscal conservatism both online and offline."[2][3][4]

Organization

The "tea party" anti-tax movement is not as spontaneous as its organizers would like you to think. Chris Good writes in The Atlantic, "Here is the organizational landscape of the April 15 tea party movement, in a nutshell: three national-level conservative groups, all with slightly different agendas, are guiding it. All are quick to tell you that the movement is a bottom-up affair and that its grassroots cred is real. They are: FreedomWorks, the conservative action group led by Dick Armey; dontGO, a tech savvy free-market action group that sprang out of last August's oil-drilling debate in the House of Representatives; and Americans for Prosperity, an issue advocacy/activist group based on free market principles. Conservative bloggers, talk show hosts, and other media figures have attached themselves to the movement in peripheral capacities. Armey will appear at a major rally in Atlanta, FreedomWorks said. All three groups vehemently deny that the movement is a product of AstroTurfing -- fake grassroots activism organized from the top down -- as some on the left have claimed." [1]

Alternet reports, "The Tea Party movement was born on Feb. 19 with a now-famous rant by second-string CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli, who called for a 'Chicago Tea Party' in protest of President Barack Obama's plans to help distressed American homeowners. Santelli’s call blazed through the blogosphere, greased along by a number of FreedomWorks-funded blogs, propelling him to the status of a 21st century Samuel Adams -- a leader and symbol of disenfranchised Americans suffering under big-government oppression and mismanagement of the economy. That same day, a nationwide 'Tea Party' protest movement mysteriously materialized on the Internet. A whole ring of Web sites came online within hours of Santelli's rant, like sleeper-cell blogs waiting for the trigger to act, all claiming to have been inspired by Santelli's allegedly impromptu outburst. ... But as our investigation showed, the key players in the Tea Party Web ring were no amateurs, but rather experienced Republican operatives with deep connections to FreedomWorks and other fake grassroots campaigns pushing pro-big-business interests." [2]

Promotion

Fox News has played a key role in actively promoting the tea party movement. Fox commentator Glenn Beck, founder of the The 912 Project also promoted by Fox, promotes the tea parties on his show, encouraging viewers to "celebrate with Fox News" and join the protests. Other Fox personalities, Greta Van Susteren, Neil Cavuto, Sean Hannity, along with Beck, have broadcast live from tea parties in DC, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Atlanta on tax day.[5]

The tea party movement is also promoted through an affiliation with conservative blogs and websites including RedState.com, Michelle Malkin, NetRightNation, and Smart Girl Politics, and through a Facebook group of 50,000 members handled by American Liberty Alliance. [3] Local chapters and protests are organized online through local groups using the Meetup.com and Ning.com websites. In February 2009, conservative Pajamas Media began running online ads encouraging readers to organize their own tea parties and promoting Pajamas Media's coverage of them: "The Pajamas TV team including Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, and Joe Wurzelbacher (a.k.a. "Joe the Plumber") - are mobilized to help cover this new and evolving revolution."

Activities

For 2009 two events have been organized at the national level, the initial April 15 "tax day tea party" that nominally kicked off the movement, and a march on Washington D.C. held on September 12, 2009, the day after the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks held in conjunction with The 912 Project.

Smaller, local events have been widespread. Most notable of these have the disruptions of the 2009 summer recess town hall meetings held by Democrats and moderate Republicans. Discussions of health care reform, the federal stimulus package, and bank and auto industry bail outs were the most common targets of disruption, and much of the rhetoric used took the form of disinformation. FreedomWorks supplied much the organization and material used by The local Tea Party groups. In early summer 2009 FreedoWorks sent out a "Health Care training kit," containing three questions about health care it urged supporters to confront lawmakers with at town hall meetings.[6] A | leaked memo from a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots (teapartypatriots.org), was more specific, and instructed members how to infiltrate town halls, spread disinformation, and harass members of Congress. The memo is spread through local tea party and The 912 Project groups to individual protesters.

The march on Washington D.C. held on September 12, 2009 organized with Glenn Beck's 912 Project[7] has been the subject of a number of false claims supported by bogus evidence. Participants claimed that 1.6 and 1.2 million people attended.[8] Washington D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services said, unofficially, that actually between 60,000 and 75,000 people attended the event.[9] Within days conservative blogs and 912 Project and Tea Party groups tried to tout the size of the event by passing around a photo of a packed National Mall, which turned out to be of another event taken before September 2004, the date the National Museum of the American Indian opened, which is missing in the photo.[10]

Sourcewatch resources

External resources

External Articles

References

  1. Adam C. Smith, "Protesters in Ybor City drown out health care summit on Obama's proposal", Tampabay.com, August 7, 2009.
  2. Eric Odom Strategic Activism, LLC Blog. January 5, 2009. Accessed April 19, 2009
  3. Tax Day Tea Party Web site, accessed April 19, 2009
  4. YouTube Eric Odom Video. Accessed April 19, 2009
  5. [More Tea Party Symbiotics: Fox News] Chris Good. The Atlantic, Apr 10 2009.
  6. Lawmakers Will Face Tea Parties, And More, In August Chris Good. The Atlantic, July 30, 2009.
  7. Kurtz notes Beck "practically conceived" the 9-12 protests Media Matters, September 13, 2009.
  8. Conservatives march on Washington Alex Koppelman. Salon.com, September 12, 2009.
  9. DC Fire EMS Twitter feed, September 12, 2009 Twitter.com
  10. 9/12 Tea Party Photo: False Image Spread By Anti-Reform Activists Rachel Weiner. Huffington Post, September 14, 2009.
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