American Morning co-host Kiran Chetry seems to get stewed when she interviews her Tea Party guests: today was no exception. Looking like Carol Costello discussing Sarah Palin, Kiran had her arms crossed and her mind apparently made up when she and co-anchor John Roberts interviewed Tea Party Patriots leader Jenny Beth Martin, one of Time’s “100 Most Influential” people. As the duo began to question Martin, they looked like the tired trope of good cop/bad cop. Or, perhaps, more aptly, they seemed like two desperate priests trying to exorcise the evil spirit that now possessed Time and, by extension, the entire Time-Warner family, including CNN herself.
Opening the interview, John served up a softball to Martin about the nature of the Tea Party. After she had answered that it was both a political and protest movement with the “three core values” of “fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government,” and free markets, Kiran went in for the kill. After acknowledging the Tea Party’s growing support by the American public (20% in the latest poll), Kiran opined, “Some of them also have radical views, I guess you could say, sometimes when it comes to race and other things. How did that sort of start to seep into what you say is the core of the movement?”
Not accepting Kiran’s bald premise about the heart of the Tea Party, Martin riposted, “Well, in Tea Party Patriots, we have no place for that. If we see somebody who’s doing something racist, we tell them to leave our events. We’re there for our core values. We want to reclaim our founding principles in this country.”
Giving Kiran a rest, tag-team partner John innocently interposed, “What is that you think, Jenny Beth, that has led so many people to come to the Tea Party movement in such a short period of time?” When he more pointedly added, “I guess we should point out, too, that most of them according to polling are disaffected Republicans, Kiran nodded her agreement.
Then, after Martin had answered John’s question and his follow-ups, Kiran raised the specter of race again. Kiran queried, “At a lot of the rallies and according to a lot of the polling, nearly 80% of people that say they support the Tea Party or go to the rallies [or are actively involved are Caucasian. What would you say to minorities who say, ‘Is there a really a place for me as part of the Tea Party movement?’” (Unfortunately, Kiran failed to disclose the salient fact that 2008 U.S. Census estimates indicate that 80% of Americans are white.)
In response, Martin replied, “Absolutely, there is a place for you. This is about ordinary citizens in America, and we’re reclaiming our founding principles. And those principles are liberty: it effects everyone in this country regardless of race or age.”
Kiran, America embraced post-racial politics with the election of President Obama. Obviously, our nation should stay on course. Now, we must make certain that that “buried hatchet” remains so.