It turns out the Tea Partiers are an overwhelmingly conservative bunch of "Republican-oriented conservative voters who are dismayed by the direction of the GOP and who don't want to identify with the party's brand." I know -- shocking, right?
So, maybe it's time for the media to stop pretending otherwise? Take, for example, this April 2 CNN.com article:
Introducing a series of comments by self-described Democrats, CNN reported:
Some Americans who say they have been sympathetic to Democratic causes in the past -- some even voted for Democratic candidates -- are angry with President Obama and his party. They say they are now supporting the Tea Party -- a movement that champions less government, lower taxes and the defeat of Democrats even though it's not formally aligned with the Republican Party.
To be sure, the number of Democrats in the Tea Party movement is small. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that while 96 percent of Tea Party activists identify themselves as either Republican or Independent, only 4 percent say they are Democrats.
Four percent? Four? That's nothing; it's barely more than a rounding error. And yet CNN devotes an entire article to the negligible number of Tea Party activists who are Democrats unhappy with their party.
So why do news organizations pretend the Tea Partiers aren't just a bunch of Republicans? Maybe because if they acknowledged that truth, it would be harder to justify their obsessive coverage, which even includes CNN embedding a reporter with the Tea Partiers. After all, "Republicans don't like Democrats" isn't much of a story.
I'm not saying the media should ignore the Tea Party folks. But they should understand -- and their reports should make clear -- that these are, basically, Republicans. That there simply are not a significant number of disaffected Democrats. And that one of the things the Tea Party "movement" demonstrates is that some of the most energetic activists the GOP relies upon are unwilling to call themselves Republicans.