Monday, August 24, 2009

NOLA Tea Partiers Flex Their Muscles

The Times-Picayune printed this photograph in yesterday's paper -- note the caption. Senator Vitter had nothing to do with organizing the event -- kudos for that accomplishment go solely to the Northshore Tea Party, Mandeville Tea Party, and Greater News Orleans Tea Party groups. Several (or, apparently a boatload!) of us called and emailed the paper objecting to the inaccurate info in the caption. Here's my email:

"Contrary to the caption beneath the photo of the crowd in today's Times-Picayune, I know for a fact that Senator Vitter had nothing to do with organizing yesterday's Recess Rally Tea Party, although he was welcome to attend as a citizen and taxpayer. I did see Congressman Scalise there, in person, and shook his hand.

"A photograph I took from the Macy's parking deck suggests 1,000+ in attendance at the Rally. The overwhelming sentiment of those in attendance demanded that Congress and the White House slow down and engage in meaningful, multi-partisan debate about the entire issue of health care reform -- not simply how insurance will impact the short-term.

"Tort reform, interstate competition among insurers, regulation of insurability, tax incentives, and increased functionality of Health Savings Accounts are on the table but rarely mentioned. All of the aforementioned can be genuinely deficit-neutral steps to increase access to insurance and reduce health care costs. The bills that have emerged from House and Senate sub-committees are overreaching and bloated, much akin to most legislation emanating from D.C. these days. This issue is too broad and too important to be whisked through the process with little more than Standard Operating Procedure and stealthy, after-hours amendments.

"Our elected representatives from Louisiana need to listen to and heed the well-informed opinions of their constituents. We send them to D.C. to represent us, not to dictate to us. They would do themselves a service by recognizing that their home base ain't Massachusetts or California. Ya know?"

Today, a pretty good retraction appeared on page A-2. One of our organizers also received TWO emails yesterday from the weekend managing editor asking, in essence, that the dogs be called off. Here they are, as forwarded by Glenn Dubroc:

"E-MAIL #1 received at 4:52 pm
Mr. [sic] Dubroc,

I'm letting you know that we plan on publishing a correction on Monday to the photo caption on the rally. Our intention was to give the rally coverage, which is not something we do to all protests. But the size of the group and the relevance of the topic was something that we thought deserved coverage.

The press release sent to the City Desk email account did not make it into the hands of the appropriate editors for Saturday photo assignments. We relied on the robo calls made by Sen. Vitter, including one to my home, as the background for the assignment.

All our corrections run on A2 and believe me, readers know where to find them.

If you have any other concerns, please feel free to contact me. Now maybe we can enjoy the rest of a beautiful Sunday!

FYI: Here's what the Vitter call said:

'Hi, this is Senator David Vitter, calling on behalf of the Louisiana Conservative Action committee, to invite you to join me for a health care tea party this Saturday, Aug. 22. This will be a great opportunity to send a clear message to Washington that we oppose ObamaCare. The health care tea party will be this Saturday, Aug. 22, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Veterans Memorial Boulevard and Causeway, in Metairie. [sic] across from Lakeside Shopping Center. Please join Senator David Vitter at this important health care tea party. I really look forward to seeing you there.'

Your [sic] truly,
Dan Shea
Managing Editor/News
The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans, LA"

Eh -- subject to interpretation, I can see that they got lazy and didn't fact-check the backstory of the tea party. It's still poor journalism, IMHO. Here's the second email:

"E-MAIL #2 received at 6:52 pm
"Dr. Dubroc,

"I was surprised at the size of the rally and had we handled it better we probably would have sent a reporter as well.

"I am [in] no position [to be] looking for a favor, but I would appreciate it if you would let your membership know what happened so our Circulation phone staff are not besieged in the morning. You can forward my email if you like.

"Thanks again. Please feel free to call me if a problem arises again.

"Dan Shea"

Heh. Not only did Shea get the salutation correctly in the second email, he pretty much admitted that we overwhelmed the newspaper. Ah, the smell of newsprint-napalm in the morning!

Does that sound like Astroturf to you, Ms. Pelosi, Barney, Harry? Are y'all ready for September 12th?

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