Bill O'Reilly, predictably, saw that New York Times story pointing out how the Tea Party movement has turned into a revival of the Patriot movement as just another attempt by the librul media to "smear" the Tea Parties, and brought on Sarah Palin to talk it over last night:
O'REILLY: So Governor, you gave the keynote a couple weeks ago in Nashville for the Tea Party Convention. Did you see extremism? Do you think it's a danger to the Tea Party?
PALIN: It was an honor to be able to deliver that keynote and really connect with Tea Partiers who have a simple message. A lot of people, I guess this New York Times reporter, they just don't like that message of we being taxed enough and wanting to remind our elected officials of their constitutional limitations of big government, and just kind of get government back on the side of the people. It was an honor to connect with those people.
Didn't see the extremism that, of course, those in some of the mainstream media and some self-proclaimed elites would like the rest of America to believe is encompassing the Tea Party movement. Didn't see that.
Evidently, she missed the rousing nativist speech by Tom Tancredo calling for a "civics literacy" test for voters, or the speech by Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily promoting the Birther conspiracy theories.
Ah, but that would be because Palin doesn't consider the Birthers to be extremists. As becomes clear when O'Reilly presses her on the matter:
O'REILLY: Well, they went to Sandpoint, Idaho, [ed. note: Sandpoint is Palin's birthplace] The Times did. And then they brought in all the Nazi stuff that had been up there. And they brought in all the militia stuff, Weaver and such that had been up there.
Look, there's no doubt that The New York Times wants to brand the Tea Party as a bunch of extremist loons. There's no doubt they want to do that. But there is danger, do you agree with me, that there is danger if some Tea Party people play into that? If they do say we're getting our guns and we're going to overthrow and Obama is this and Obama is that and he isn't born here. I mean, there was a birther thing going on at the convention. You don't believe in the birther thing do you, Governor?
PALIN: No. And those wild conspiracy theories about our own government I think shouldn't have a part of the dialogue of the debate. What the debate needs to be about is the good ideas, the foundational principles that built this country into the most prosperous and healthiest and most voluntarily generous nation on earth. Safest place, too. We need to get back to those principles.
O'REILLY: But I'm unclear. I'm unclear. Do you think that the birther people should have a place at the Tea Party table? Do you think they should be a place there?
PALIN: There is always going to be an element of those who want to be a part of a movement, who have their own ideas of where the country should go or what's going on with the country.
O'REILLY: Then what do you do with those people? Do you accept them and embrace them?
PALIN: Well, one, you don't take away their First Amendment rights. And we say you cannot speak about those things or ask those questions that you want answers to. That's part of democracy at work is those…
O'REILLY: But do you see the danger that if that becomes the headline, then the mainstream American, who isn't really following it that closely says hey, you know…
PALIN: I see the danger of more of the same of the mainstream media wanting to paint Tea Partiers as radical wacko conspiracy theorists. And if we allow that to happen then, no, this grassroots movement of the people wanting their voice to be heard because there is such a disconnect between what's going on in Washington and the people that Washington is supposed to be serving.
Got that? The problem isn't with far-right extremists taking the reins of her beloved "people's" movement -- the problem is with journalists who report that phenomenon.