The organizers of the National Tea Party Convention are not responding to reporters looking for basic logistical questions. Kevin Diaz explains that the convention, to be held in Nashville next month, will be closed to all but “select” members of the press. This really is unusual.
Organizers say that journalists without passes will not be allowed into the convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. (A Star Tribune request for a pass was denied, the paper’s interest in covering its home-state congresswoman notwithstanding).
Convention spokesman Judson Phillips informs us that most of the sessions are closed “at the request” of the presenters. “Given the media interest, I don’t want the sessions disrupted and overrun with the media,” he said.
As a journalist, I’ve been allowed into sessions, dinners, everything at conferences hosted by the Eagle Forum and by Focus on the Family. Extra credit to Eagle Forum: when I was covering the How to Take Back America Conference in St. Louis, Phyllis Schlafly’s son Andy, an organizer, invited me away from my media seat and into a seat at his dinner table to chat with more activists. And some of the most controversial speakers at the National Tea Party Convention, like Rick Scarborough, happily chatted with me inside and outside of their sessions at previous events.
One major implication of this, of course, is that for the third time since the presidential election — the first at a speech in China, the second at a speech for a pro-life group in Indiana — Sarah Palin will give a political speech that members of the media are not allowed to attend. According to co-sponsors I’ve spoken with, they, not journalists, will get to spend time with Palin before and after the speech.