For many years, David Yepsen was the go-to media expert on the Iowa caucuses from his post at the Des Moines Register. Yepsen isn't a reporter any more, just a pundit, but the media still follow his liberal conventional wisdom.
On NPR.org, reporter Liz Halloran tried to paint the Tea Party movement into the usual crazy corner, and Yepsen insists this weekend was critical for the Tea Party movement's image -- as if every NPR and CNN isn't working to paint the crazy on it:
"This weekend will be critical for the Tea Party and conservatives," says David Yepsen of Southern Illinois University's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
"If the television images that come out of this gathering are of a bunch of nuts, the American people are going to say that these people aren't fit to lead the government," Yepsen says. "Republicans have to be mindful of what they're walking into."
Halloran did talk to former Hastert aide John Feehery to insist that the Tea Party movement was important, but they also found a Republican consultant named Cameron Lynch to sound a note more on the wavelength of the media narrative:
"We welcome the enthusiasm, but I personally, and hopefully the Republican Party, don't condone the racist and ethnic epithets," says Lynch, who previously worked for Republican senators Bob Dole, John Ashcroft and McCain.
Lynch says the GOP should court the Tea Party with a "side hug," not a full embrace. And he advises that Republican leaders issue a blanket statement affirming First Amendment rights to free speech but repudiating spitting on opponents, or yelling racist or misogynistic slurs.
"This is tough stuff, politics, but it doesn't mean we need to forego dignity," Lynch says.
Cautions Yepsen: "You can't go into a roomful of gas, light a match and say you're not responsible."
What irresponsible mudslinging this is. The roomful of gas here is the flatulent media bias.