The liberal website Talking Points Memo continues to report on a bigoted individual who speciously claims to represent 6 million members of the Tea Party movement as a "leader."
In fact, he doesn't represent anyone but himself.
Readers can only infer from TPM's consistent coverage of one Dale Robertson that the website is attempting to play up the most radical figure it can find who associates with the Tea Party movement. The website referred to Robertson today as a "prominent Tea Party leader" in the first sentence of a story headlined, "'Warning: Tea Party In Danger': Leader Slams Palin As 'Wolf In Sheep's Clothing.'"
But not only doesn't Robertson represent any faction of the movement, he has also been publicly and consistently rebuffed by a number of Tea Party groups who want nothing to do with his message. Even liberal blogs have noted the duplicity in associating him with the Tea Party movement.
In September of last year the Houston Tea Party Society asked Robertson to leave an event after he brought an extremely offensive and racist sign to an event. The group then issued a press release saying:
1. He is NOT a member of our Leadership team.
2. He owns a website with which we have never been affiliated.
3. He has never been a part of organizing any of the Tea Party rallies in the Houston area, or any other area that we can find.
4. We addressed some issues involving him back in April. Here it is on our website, where Mr. Robertson himself comments: http://houstontps.org/?p=318
5. We do not choose to associate with people that use his type of disgusting language.
A search on Google yields plenty of information about Mr. Robertson, and a search of the various leadership teams among legitimate national tea party organizations show him nowhere to be found.
Other Tea Party organizations have also distanced themselves from Robertson. The Tea Party Patriots also issued a press release condemning Robertson's words and actions, and his presumed leadership of any significant segment of the movement.
It has been brought to our attention that an individual named Dale Robertson is claiming to be the 'founder' of the tea party movement. A number of stories on the web carry a picture of Mr. Robertson holding a sign that uses offensive, racist language.
Tea Party Patriots wishes to make clear that our organization has never had any association with Mr. Robertson, and that we stand firmly against any expression of racism and the kind of language and opinion expressed in his sign. Mr. Robertson does not speak for Tea Party Patriots, Inc. or for the millions of Tea Party Patriots across the country working to return the nation to its constitutional foundation.
Even the left-wing Mother Jones brushed off claims that Robertson was part of or represented the mainstream (for lack of a better term) Tea Party movement. A blogger there wrote last month:
If the [Washington Post] had bothered to assign someone to cover the burgeoning Tea Party movement, its editors would have known that Robertson doesn't actually represent anyone, except maybe himself...
Like many of the media hounds claiming to represent the grassroots Tea Party movement, Robertson's main credential is opportunism. Last spring, as the movement was taking root, he had the foresight to register a whole bunch of tea party domain names, including teaparty.org, Texas Tea Party, Houston Tea Party, HoustonTXTeaParty, and so on. Then he tried to sell the names back to the actual Texas tea party leaders, making veiled threats about lawsuits over their use of the Tea Party name. The former Navy officer who claims to be running for governor of Texas has even put some of the domain names on eBay, with the stated intent of saving his house from foreclosure. While real Tea Party leaders have distanced themselves from Robertson, the media have embraced him and his false claim that he founded the entire Tea Party movement. Despite efforts by Tea Party leaders to publicize Robertson's phony creds and racist sign-making habits, Robertson has appeared on Fox News, C-Span, Russia Today, as well as a host of radio shows, and he's been quoted with authority in a variety of newspapers. The Washington Post quote, though, is definitely a coup for Roberston, and a true embarrassment for the Post, which really should have known better.
Robertson claims to be a "leader" and a "founder" of the movement, but beyond owning a few choice domain names, all he has done is make some videos, hire a PR guy, and run in front of the TV cameras giving them exactly what they are looking for: racism, sensationalism, and something to damn the Tea Party movement.
Old Media has gobbled it up.
TPM states that that Robertson's "influence within Tea Party circles is open to question," but provides no evidence that he has ever had any such influence, or any reason to get the attention he does beyond owning some nice domain names and appearing in the news for holding a controversial sign. Every Tea Party organization he has been involved with, it seems, has repudiated both him and his message.
Yet he is still presented as a "prominent Tea Party leader." Why?
Andrew Ian Dodge wrote at PJM last week:
The MSM was in search of a means to verify what they already believed — that tea party members are racist hicks (paying no heed to the movement’s sizable minority population). Dale Robertson provided them with that bugbear. Mr. Robertson clearly enjoys his time in the limelight. He does not seem to care how he got there or what kind of damage he is doing to the movement he professes to lead. Dale’s latest fundraising email showing Obama as a pimp has not helped his reputation, nor that of the movement.
We shall see how long it takes before the tea party movement finally gets the mainstream media to avoid this man. They have, for the most part, corrected the blogosphere.
Apparently there's still some work to be done on the latter front.