Leaked Email: CNBC Went To Tea Partiers Looking for Angry Protests

August 12, 2009 8:21 a.m.

CNBC approached Tea Party activists, looking for angry protest events that would make good television, according to a leaked email from a Tea Party discussion group. And one Tea Bagger responded by flagging an upcoming event that, he said, “should be a riot … literally.”

Yesterday, Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin sent an email, obtained by TPMmuckraker, to a Tea Party google group. Martin told the group: “We have a media request for an event this week that will have lots of energy and lots of anger. This is for CNBC.”She then asked: “So, where are the big events this week and where can TPP best be represented on the news?”

Later that day, a Tea Bagger named Pat Wayman responded with a suggestion, also obtained by TPMmuckraker: “This one should be a riot! literally….” he wrote.

Wayman then posted information for an upcoming “health fair” hosted by Rep. David Scott (D-GA), at which the uninsured will receive free medical coverage*.

As Wayman noted, “[t]his is the Congressman who got a swastika painted on his office sign last night.”

Wayman also included a link to a far-right website which lists the Scott event.

You can see both the Martin and Wayman emails here.

So, at least in Martin’s telling, the pro-business CNBC was specifically looking for an event with “lots of energy and lots of anger.” (Earlier this year, they just relied on their own correspondents for that.)

And of course, some Tea Baggers were only too happy to try to provide that anger.

Late Update: Martin tells TPMmuckraker that she did not forward the Scott event — or, in fact, any event — on to CNBC as a candidate for coverage. She stressed that her group “does not endorse anything that incites violence of any kind,” adding that the email list is un-moderated. “I can’t moderate every single comment,” she said.

Asked whether CNBC had specifically told her they were looking for an event with “lots of energy and lots of anger,” Martin replied: “That was the impression that I received from them.” She declined to elaborate.

CNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Late Late Update: Martin has forwarded an email to TPMmuckraker, sent this morning before this post appeared, in which she directed that the Tea Party Patriots would have no involvement in Scott’s health fair, because of the nature of the event, which she called “a perfect example of free market events.”

She wrote:

I have thought about this more and think it would be best to send a press release saying how we think the health fair is a perfect example of free market events. That we support free markets and the fact that in America we are compassionate and take care of the uninsured. Look at these businesses who are doing this without the government taking over our health care.

I think TPP does not need to have a presence there. If the other groups want to do it, that is their prerogative. Right now Tea Party Patriots is under a ton of scrutiny and we need to make sure our methods are above reproach.

* This sentence has been edited from an earlier version.

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