New York Times On Tea Partiers: What You Would Expect

Jillian Bandes

2/16/2010 2:23:00 PM - Jillian Bandes
Today's feature is even more evidence for why no one should ever trust the New York Times' reporting on tea parties.
Members of her family, she said, think she has disappeared down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. But Mrs. Stout said she has never felt so engaged.

“I can’t go on being the shy, quiet me,” she said. “I need to stand up.”

It's great to talk about re-energized Republicans and then immediately focus on conspiracy theories if you're the New York Times. After all, everything from disbelief in the effectiveness of stimulus funding to questions about the effectiveness of public education qualifies tea partiers as conspiracy theorists. Libertarians and anti-immigration advocates are lumped in with "militia groups" to illustrate the nature of these "populists," and all of them are interested in doing away with "the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax and countless agencies."

I wish I could be charitable, and say that the Times' lengthy investigation into the psyches of tea party activists portrayed some kind of reality. But it doesn't. It uses fringe activists as illustrative of mainstream beliefs, and ends on a note of "they all want to blow up America."

Mrs. Stout said she has begun to contemplate the possibility of “another civil war.” It is her deepest fear, she said. Yet she believes the stakes are that high.

...“Peaceful means,” she continued, “are the best way of going about it. But sometimes you are not given a choice.”

I'd be the first to denounce anyone who recommended taking up arms against our government to stop its policies. As would every other even-headed tea party activist I've met. But portraying Mrs. Stout as the voice of an entire movement marginalizes those voices, and unfairly denigrates those who want more limited government through normal, traditional, non-violent means.