Saturday, March 27, 2010

Searchlight Or Bust, The Wrap

I'm not even sure what this lady is supposed to be, to be honest, except maybe ridiculous?

Well, I had quite a lot of snarky fun on Twitter about my Saturday adventure heading 50 miles south to Searchlight, Nev., to cover the big Tea Party put on on in/near Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hometown. I netted 40+ new followers thanks to Eclectablog's citation on DailyKos.

For more straight-up coverage, check out the Las Vegas Sun and Review-Journal, that of my pal Kathleen Hennessey now of the L.A. Times. Also full of snark and insight was, as always, Jon Ralston. Who to ignore? CNN, whose anchor Fredericka Whitfield said "at least dozens" were there when any sane person could see there were thousands. And here's my entry for AOLNews.Com. The cops estimate 8,000 were there, by the way.

Anyhow, I had decided, rather than drive my piece-o-crap down there, to pay $20 for a seat on one of the charter buses being arranged by some folks out of California. I wrote to the e-mail that was heavily promoted in the Review-Journal and that massively popular (?) Nevada News Bureau site. I also got there early, figuring there'd be a big hoard. Turned out, there was, uh, one bus. And I was one of 13 people on a 75-seat bus. Apparently, everyone else decided to drive themselves.

That said, I did enjoy the ride, if only because I got to Tweet about the huge guy who ate a box of a dozen doughnuts by himself in about 15 minutes of riding and how useful socialized medicine will one day be for his diabetic ass. Here's the box, you disbelievers:

Doughnut Fatty was also reading "The 5,000 Year Leap," some 1981 book on protecting constitutional freedom that's No. 115 right now because Glenn Beck's been shilling it on Fox.

One stunner was that the bus driver declared his support for Harry Reid. He reasoned that a small state like Nevada needs his seniority and, when challenged about what Reid had done for the state from riders, he went into a whole thing about how he saved the state from Yucca Mountain. The riders were stumped but respectful. I was in awe of the driver's guts.

Once we arrived, though, there would be no dissenting opinions. Just a lot of signs and speeches saying essentially the same things:

Two thoughts here. (a) Texas, you're welcome to go at any time, and (b) Isn't it neat that Puffy's an animal lover?

Speaking of license plates, just wondering if I'm missing something. I hitched a ride home from Searchlight with freelance photog Isaac Brekken so I could get back faster and write, and we saw this and had no idea what it was supposed to mean. Anyone?

Lots of folks may mock these people -- including me, because it's in my nature -- but the event went off without any violent or racist incidents. My Tweets were merciless, but my report for AOLNews.Com, I hope, provided a fair representation of what happened: People got together to express their political views.

OK, with a healthy dose of media-bashing. Which is funny because, like other irrational hatreds, these people seemed to really like the reporter they got to speak to:

When I introduced myself to one sweet lady for an interview and told her I was with AOL News, she lit up: "Oh, I love your paper!" How, uh, nice!

Could this be why there was no violence?

But, seriously, how can people who do this...

...expect not to be teased? I mean, they took the song "New York, New York" and reworked the lyrics so that it went "These O-bah-mah bloooze, are melting away...". And they had KICKLINES, see?

There was a fleet of planes skywriting messages above and this was utterly distracting. GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval, who is actually the odds-on favorite to win at the moment, lost his speaking time to a crowd so transfixed by this...

...that they cheered to the heavens and chanted "Vote Reid Out" so loudly that all Sandy could do was pretend he was leading the chant.

Of course, nobody was distracted when Palin appeared:

She made the requisite jabs at Obama for using the TelePrompTer so much, then read her speech off a page as if that's actually different. She insisted that when she tells the crowd, "Don't retreat, reload!" that she's not making a gun reference. And she gave voice to the principles of her audience in support of lower taxes and smaller government and out-of-control health insurance company. Still, she was a vastly improved presenter than she was when I covered in the fall of 2008. And she even gets to keep the clothes now!

What was sort of amazing was that it wasn't Palin or Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons or even Vegas radio wackadoodle Heidi Harris who came across as nuts, it was self-described "middle-class media mogul" Andrew Breitbart. The guy was not only completely off the wall but totally into himself, blathering on about how he's offering $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund if the black House members who were called "nigger" last weekend could prove it. Breitbart, right, went on about how the Democrats were the real racists and that this is why he left the party in 1996 which is so strange because I don't recall any big racial scandals in 1996 surrounding the Democrats, do you?

And finally, one of the funnest parts to me was that several speakers insisted the racial taunts against the House members never happened but not a single one repudiated the homophobic slurs visited upon U.S. Rep. Barney Frank. That, evidently, is just fine.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the owner of the license plate "DRKWING" is an animation fan as there was a Disney cartoon called "Darkwing Duck" in the nineties...

Eclectablog said...

Great stuff. Glad to give you a shout out on Kos, you deserved it.

By the way, if you get a chance, it's "Eclectablog" not "Electablog".

Great work, thanks for the first-hand account.

Anonymous said...

I watched this event on the live stream since I'm masochistic like that, and I got the impression that most of the attendees were not Nevadan. They did a shout-out to various states, and judging by the crowd response most of them came from California.

There was also an interesting/awkward moment when one of the organizers formally disowned the Nevada Tea Party. The crowd had no idea about whether they should cheer the announcement or not, so they went something like "YAAAaaaay?..." I bet most of the attendees had no idea what that announcement was all about.

Michael Shay said...

I've been guilty of a little snark myself when writing about Tea Party events in Wyoming. But I think you did a great job combining snarky observations with interviews and photos. Great story on AOLNews. Hope you don't mind if I follow...

atdnext said...

Good job, Mr. Steve. I know I'm biased, as I was over with the Reid folks in town yesterday (and I'll be blogging my thoughts today). Still, you did a great job in your reporting and thanks for unspinning all the spin from yesterday.

Now here are my observations from yesterday:

- At least 80% of the cars I saw parked near the "tea party" event had out-of-state license plates.

- The crowd there was BIG, but it didn't hit their original 10,000 goal and they certainly did NOT reach the 20,000 they were claiming during the event.

- All of us supporting Reid at The Nugget mostly encountered thumbs down from the teabaggers coming in (again, mostly from CA & AZ- I saw at least 4 anti-Barbara Boxer bumper stickers), with only a few shouting obscene insults from their cars.

- While we didn't have as big a crowd on "our side of town", it was mostly a mix of Searchlight locals and those of us who drove up from Vegas with Laughlin folks mixed in... And spirits were pretty high.

I'm trying my best to offer my honest appraisal of everything yesterday, so here it is... The "tea party" certainly got plenty of media headlines, and they'll probably remain at least somewhat relevant through Election Day. However, I doubt they'll be entirely helpful to Republicans and I still don't think they know yet who they're messing with in regards to Harry Reid.

And btw, I think you're my new favorite political reporter. (Shhh, don't tell Jon Ralston & Steve Sebelius...) :-)

Anonymous said...

These nut jobs are doing us a favor. There are a lot of folks in our nation who take a look at the misspelled signs and racial taunting and say I will go the other way. This is nothing more then a lunatic fringe, rubes, and racist.

Anonymous said...

Following your tweets during the trip was a gerat little diversion on a Saturday afternoon. So entertaining. Thank you.
Jeff in OKC

Diana said...

Please for health reasons, if anyone stayed at the Sam's town hotel on Bolder-can you please contact me at Would greatly appreciate it and may be able to help out with a health concern. Thanks, just put sams town in subject heading so I won't ignore as spam.

James Taylor said...

I wish there had been a way to trick Sarah Palin into holding up a check and saying, "Let's all say a big thank you to, uh, Scott Ashjian, who's made a donation to cover the cost of the sky-writers! Way to go, Scott!"

Michael (@jinxclev) said...

Nice report, ahtough I don't think I could have taken a day of it, unless it was from an extreme life experience kind of day, but that's the perils of journalism I guess. Looking forward to seeing how your AOL article turns out, has to be a bit difficult to put aside your own views when reporting it, and can't wait to see how you do with it.

Anonymous said...

"OK, with a healthy dose of media-bashing. Which is funny because, like other irrational hatreds, these people seemed to really like the reporter they got to speak to:"

Maybe this reporter was nice compared with this CNN report, Susan Roesgen, at a Tea Party Event.

You can look up other incidences of media bias at Newsbusters.

Unknown said...

Anyone else curious what in the hell Diana is talking about?