Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

Dick Armey And Sean Hannity Perpetuate The “Grass Roots” Myth About Tax Day Tea Parties

Reported by Ellen - April 15, 2009 -

During his appearance on last night's (4/14/09) Hannity, Dick Armey disingenuously told Sean Hannity that he was going to the Atlanta Tax Day Tea Party because he “was invited” by people he didn't know who were “not paid political operatives.” In fact, Armey heads FreedomWorks, one of three organizations that have been helping coordinate a national tea party effort and which has admitted being “one of the main driving forces” behind the protests. As Think Progress reports, FreedomWorks has a history of orchestrating “grass roots” movements that help Armey's corporate clients. Hannity not only failed to challenge Armey's bogus stance, he did his part to perpetuate the "grass roots" myth by playing a tea party promo supposedly prepared by an unknown viewer. With video.

We've previously reported on the charade being put forth on FOX News that the tea parties are being driven from the ground up when in fact they are being masterminded by lobbyists who are aided and abetted by FOX News. Even FOX News' own Alan Colmes has blogged about the role that FreedomWorks has played in actively organizing the events. But Hannity went along with Armey's astroturfing even while promoting FOX News' coverage of the Atlanta tea party.

The interview with Armey began with a lengthy attack on President Obama's economic policies. Predictably, that served as a nifty segue to promote the tea party. In addition to announcing the details of the Atlanta tea party (from which Hannity will broadcast later today, one of four FOX News hosts to broadcast from a tea party), Hannity played a video promoting the tea party and its cause of “freedom” and tax protests. The professional-looking video was supposedly prepared by a viewer but we never learned the viewer's name. The video starts at about the 2:10 mark in the video below (which counts down from the end).

After the video, Armey “explained” his attendance at the upcoming tea party by saying, “I'm going to Atlanta because I was invited by the Atlanta organizers. I don't know these people. I've never worked with them before.” He accused the left of not comprehending that “this is a bona fide American uprising of real people. Nobody is managing this. These are not paid political operatives. This is not a union-organized outfit. It is real people coming out of their homes and organizing a protest against irresponsible government practices, irresponsible spending, irresponsible taxation and worst of all, the inflation that is bound to ensure... It is not ochestrated by anybody. This is not an ACORN's event.”

Alright, so maybe Armey didn't know the actual person who invited him to the protest but as the head of FreedomWorks, he was hardly some unconnected outsider. As The Atlantic reports,

“FreedomWorks and dontGO seem to have taken ownership of the bulk of this coordination. The homepage of FreedomWorks' website now offers visitors a Google map of protests taking place across the country. They say they know of 600 Tax Day protests for which they are providing resources. The group has used its e-mail list to augment the work of dontGO, which created the website www.taxdayteaparty.com in February. dontGO, which was formed as an online rapid response team during the House of Representatives oil drilling debate last year, says it is "tracking" 700 events under its aegis. Americans for Prosperity says it has 24 state chapters that are organizing events. Overlap between all those numbers is quite likely: FreedomWorks told me a lot of its activity has been clueing its members to other protests in the area, so protesters can cooperate and conglomerate their events.”
It's equally egregious that Hannity accepted Armey's deceitful claim without question. Given Hannity's own active participation in promoting the Atlanta tea party, it's hard to believe he would not know anything about the forces behind the scenes. If he is unaware, such ignorance is unforgiveable in a cable news host. However, the fact that he never commented on Armey's statements suggests Hannity was complicit in Armey's duplicity. Instead, Hannity moved on to complain about how “we're spending too much money.”

Speaking of spending too much money, the Atlanta Tea Party, itself, is operating on deficit spending. Their website states, “Our estimated costs just for the stage and audio-visual equipment is $ 25,000 and so far we have raised less than $15,000. Click here to donate now.” I guess fiscal responsibility is a case of do as I say, not as I do.

Furthermore, these supposed deficit hawks are costing the government even more money by urging their acolytes to send tea bags to their legislators. As the Huffington Post reports, the practice of mailing actual tea bags to legislators has repeatedly raised security concerns, and sometimes forced the evacuation of congressional offices in anthrax-like scares.