The tea party movement has acquired strange new respect-and not in Tom Bethell's original sense of the phrase, in which a conservative moves left and wins plaudits from the media. Rather, all of a sudden this spring, journalists seemed to realize that they had gotten the story wrong. The most striking example is this CNN.com story, written by political producer Shannon Travis and posted on April 7:
When it comes to the Tea Party movement, the stereotypes don't tell the whole story.
Here's what you often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: offensive posters blasting Presi-dent Obama and Democratic leaders; racist rhetoric spewed from what seems to be a largely white, male audience; and angry protesters rallying around the Constitution.
Case in point: During the health care debate last month, opponents shouted racial slurs at civil rights icon Georgia Rep. John Lewis and one person spit on Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. The incidents made national headlines, and they provided Tea Party opponents with fodder to question the movement.