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CNN salutes the 'colorful smiles' of the tea parties

CNN's decision to embed with the Tea Party Express as it traveled toward D.C. -- Fox News did the same thing last year, in the run-up to the Sept. 12 taxpayer march on Washington -- befuddled the right and left alike. Mediaite's Tommy Christopher speculated that the network was out for "nuggets of gold," video and photos of tea partyers waving racist signs.

That's not how CNN's Shannon Travis describes his embed experience.

[H]ere's what you don't often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: Patriotic signs professing a love for country; mothers and fathers with their children; African-Americans proudly participating; and senior citizens bopping to a hip-hop rapper. ... It is important to show the colorful anger Americans might have against elected leaders and Washington. But people should also see the orange-vested Tea Party hospitality handlers who welcome you with colorful smiles.

There were a few signs that could be seen as offensive to African-Americans. But by and large, no one I spoke with or I heard from on stage said anything that was approaching racist.

Almost everyone I met was welcoming to this African-American television news producer.

It's been almost a year since CNN's Susan Roesgen became tea party public enemy No. 1 for a combative segment she filmed at an event in Chicago. This is how coverage of the tea party has evolved.

By David Weigel  |  April 7, 2010; 9:26 AM ET
Categories:  Tea Party  
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