Is there really a need for a Tea Party news operation at a time when the ideological crusade is being discredited and blamed for much of what is damaging the GOP? Definitely, its creators tell Lloyd Grove.
The election-night premiere of the Tea Party News Network was hardly optimistic.
As live-streaming Internet coverage of the political debacle headed into its ninth hour from billionaire super-PAC donor Sheldon Adelson's Venetian Las Vegas-where the shoe-string operation had shipped an anchor desk and half a dozen part-timers for the occasion-news director Scottie Nell Hughes, the network's only full-time employee, got into an online bickerfest with shock-radio personality Erich "Mancow" Muller.
Mancow, as he's known to listeners, phoned in and told Hughes he was so disgusted by the reelection of President Obama that, as far as he was concerned, the United States of America was over and done. If that was the case, Hughes shot back, she was more than happy to help him move to Ecuador.
"In my opinion, he was very rude," recalled Hughes, who was co-anchoring the podcast with right-wing talk jock Rusty Humphries.
Over at the Fox News Channel, the mothership of conservative media, a disbelieving Karl Rove was having his own, much more publicized meltdown. But TPNN's Mancow Moment was arguably just as dramatic-albeit less consequential, and played out for a tiny fraction (1/126th) of Fox's election-night audience of more than 11 million viewers.
Which raises the question: is there really a need for Tea Party journalism, especially at a time when the once-trendy ideological crusade-which dominated the political landscape a mere two years ago-is being discredited, reviled, and blamed for much of what is damaging today's defeated and dispirited GOP?