42 members of the Oregon Tea Party Coalition organized a protest Friday night, against being ignored by the mainstream media:
The Mercury went along and documented all of it. Starting with the guy at the back, doing the rock hands, who has an INCREDIBLE business card:
First, let me say: I love conservative Oregonians. Ever since I went to the Americans For Prosperity pep rally in early June, I've been entranced by them. For one thing, nobody is ever "working on a screenplay" at one of these events. And there's generally a lot more attention paid to personal hygiene than you might find at, say, the food carts on SE 12th and Hawthorne on an average Friday night.
While I may not agree wholeheartedly with their politics—I like paying taxes for things like roads, schools, and health care, for starters—I think Oregon politics is often deathly boring. And these guys certainly liven things up. Read more about the protest after the jump.
The protest started at six o'clock outside the Oregonian's headquarters on SW Broadway.
Reynolds introduced himself to me promptly, saying the group is upset by under-reporting of a Tea Party protest in Washington on September 12. The DC cops said there were 2.3million people there, others have confirmed attendance at 1.7million, said Reynolds. "But all the news networks reported it as tens of thousands," said Reynolds. "That makes us a little bit perturbed."
That was when I counted the protesters: 42. I double-checked it, to be sure. The crowd later swelled by 11, when the protest moved to Pioneer Square. Making 53.
"The media won't report accurately, there's under-reporting and a lack of reporting," said Randi Kainz, a spirited protester who periodically told me to "make a note of that," whenever anything interesting happened. The crowd began chanting "can you hear us now?" and "hear us now!"
Nobody from the Oregonian came out to report on the protest. "One guy came up to the doors but he scurried off in a hurry," said Reynolds.
Then a KOIN van drove past without stopping. "Did you see that?!" asked Kainz. "That KOIN van just drove right past, without even stopping. Make a note, please."
A US Postal Service truck drove past, with the driver leaning out the window and honking wildly as he waived. It really got the crowd fired up.
"The president said we were ginned up on talk radio," said Roxanne Ross, organizer of the Gresham Tea Party. "He also called us 'astroturf' because we're artificial grass roots." Ross denied those claims.
Kainz organized the original tea party in Portland, she said, seeming genuinely upset about the 'astroturf' claims. "There's nothing astroturf about this," she said. "I've coordinated sign-making parties for every one of these. We don't have a senior leader."
Then John Kuzmanich showed up. He's running against David Wu in Oregon's first congressional district, next year. He owns US Nationwide Mortgage, out in Beaverton, he said. "I couldn't believe that they reported just 10,000 people for the march in DC," he said. "That was the line for the rest room."
Kuzmanich was due to go on Victoria Taft's show at 6:50, and said he'd be sure to mention that the Mercury was down here while everyone else ignored things. "Say hello from me," I said.
"503 994 5055, option four," yelled Kuzmanich, giving the number for the Oregonian. "Just ask for the guy in the news room. Hold on. Wrong number."
"We're grassroots, not astroturf!" yelled another supporter. "We can't even get the number right!"
"1-800-432-1420!," yelled Kuzmanich. "Option four. They put me on hold. They can't find 60 to 100 people outside their own front door, they've got a problem."
As mentioned, the crowd was 42-strong. I didn't get the chance to ask Kuzmanich why he'd added 18 to 58 extra, because he got through to somebody. "What could be more important than the man running for office outside your own building?" he said, loudly, into his cellphone. "This is John Kuzmanich, I'm running for congress. We're wondering why you're not out here reporting. Don't you think you should come out and say hi?"
"It's 1520 SW Broadway," yelled another protester, trying to give the Oregonian reporter the address of his own building. Laughter.
Kuzmanich looked disappointed. "With full reception, right outside the building, he told me he couldn't hear me," he said. And the group moved on to Pioneer Square.
Waving signs depicting KGW owner NBC in Obama's Pocket, several protesters got chatting off the air with KGW reporter Pat Dooris. "Nobody covered our Tea Party protest in April," they said.
"I was live at seven, saying behind me you can see thousands of protesters for the first tea party," said Dooris. "And on that day we covered a huge rally in Salem, so you got a twofer from the big 8."
"Boycott KGW!" read the signs, behind him.
"Nobody likes a critic who doesn't have their facts right," said Dooris.
Then KGW's Live at Seven reporter, Joe Donlon, came out, and went live on the air with the protesters. "Americans are out there, and we're not getting any coverage," said Kuzmanich, accompanied by Reynolds, on camera, with the grassroots behind them.
Donlon said he wanted to share KGW's coverage logs with the protesters. "It was our lead story on September 12th, and then on April 15th, here, it was our lead story," he said. "So you may have a beef with the media, but I'm here to defend what we did."
"Well, do you think it's a story you'll continue to cover?" asked Kuzmanich.
"Absolutely," said Donlon. "We hear you loud and clear."
There was a big cheer, and everybody went home.
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