HERDING THE SHEEP BACK INTO THE PEN
Over at Politico, Ben Smith and Michael Calderone are utterly shocked to learn that, of the five media outlets permitted to cover the upcoming Tea Party Nation conference, two are (gasp!) the oh-so-legitimate Fox News and Wall Street Journal. (The others are Breitbart.tv, which is part of the Murdoch-surrogate Drudge/Breitbart family of Web sites; Townhall.com, a clearinghouse for virtually every movement-conservative bloviator who's able to churn out a regular column; and WorldNetDaily.) Politico's Smith asks in amazement, "What's the Journal doing on this list?"; Calderone, apparently believing that there's been some mistake, asks, "Will Fox, WSJ accept tea party press selection?"
Oh, please. Will a bear accept toilet facilities in the woods?
Keep in mind that there isn't one big monolithic tea party movement; this convention is being run by Tea Party Nation -- which, as the Washington Independent's David Weigel and others have pointed out, is being accused by other teabaggers of an excessive focus on money (RedState's Erick Erickson has disparaged the high ticket prices and the exorbitant fee paid to Sarah Palin) and too cozy a relationship with the GOP.
Well, isn't that precisely what Rupert Murdoch wants? I've been saying for months that the supposedly non-partisan tea party movement is a Judas-goat operation meant to gull right-wingers into reembracing precisely the party they began (sort of) souring on during Bush's waning days and during the McCain campaign. Certainly this aspect of it fits that bill.
Here's how it's going to happen: the Murdoch media and the slicksters at Tea Party Nation are going to build a brand of tea-party-ism that's more and more Republican ... and a lot of people will undoubtedly just follow along. The rebel cachet will still be there, but tea-party-ism (or this aspect of it) won't really threaten the GOP. Eventually, you'll look at Fox, the GOP, and the movement and it will be impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. Fox looks radical; the GOP looks radical; the movement becomes less and less threatening to established interests.
This isn't what a lot of teabaggers want. But it's what Murdoch wants. And he's going to win this battle.