Nashville’s Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, site of this weekend’s Inaugural Tea Party Convention, boasts the “largest non-gaming, in-hotel exhibition space in the world,” making the event’s organizers claim to a sold out convention sound impressive. However, with only 600 available tickets the claim assumes an almost deceptive tone. One would think that a national “grass roots” movement aiming to change the social and political course of our nation could, and would, accommodate more than 600 delegates to an event held in one of the world’s most commodious meeting places, a locale that often hosts national conferences attracting tens of thousands participants.
The decision by Tea Party leaders to deny local (Nashville) media access to the convention was surprising to say the least. I consider myself a “grass roots” reporter, often relating my common thoughts about significant events that occur within in my community and I was a bit disgruntled when I was denied press credentials to the Tea Party Convention. But when I learned that all local media, including the city’s corporate newspapers and television affiliates we were banned I was surprised and offended. I was surprised that the leaders of a movement that hopes to gain “grass roots” support would deny media access to reporters at the “grass roots” level. I was offended by the idea that the Tea Party felt Nashville’s local media was not qualified or important enough to cover their small event. However, after giving the issue some careful thought I decided the reason the Tea Party snubbed the local Nashville press was to “punish” us for our city’s part in electing Barack Obama president. That is a reason I proudly embrace.