SC Tea Party License Plates, and my small Breitbart moment

I got a call last week from Graeme Moore at WSPA Channel 7. He wanted to know if I’d talk with him about a proposed SC Tea Party License Tag. Sure I would. So I did 3 minutes of research before I headed out, just to make sure I knew what the issue was, as it was new to me. I hadn’t heard of anyone proposing such a plate.

Here’s what I found in an article by John Monk:

An unofficial symbol of the Tea Party — as well as logos of South Carolina’s 200-plus public and independent high schools — would be able to be put on S.C. customized vehicle license tags under a bill likely to be passed later this month when the General Assembly goes back into session.

A Tea Party emblem — a coiled rattlesnake with the message “Don’t Tread on Me” — would give that fledgling movement of anti-government, anti-tax activists a highly visible perch on perhaps thousands of S.C. vehicles that more established political parties don’t have.

Under a provision in the proposed license-plate law, any money raised by the sale of snake license plates — beyond the cost to produce the plates — would go to the State Museum in Columbia to be used for Revolutionary War exhibits.

However, a spokesman for the State Museum said Wednesday its officials didn’t know anything about the snake plate or that the money generated by its sale would have to be spent only on Revolutionary War programs and exhibits.

The State newspaper on Wednesday could not learn which of the General Assembly’s 170 members inserted the provision for the tea party symbol into the license-plate bill. The bill doesn’t contain the words “tea party” — instead, it calls the logo “the Gadsden flag.”

Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, who served on the legislative conference committee that is proposing some 25 types of new license plates, including the tea party plate, said he had not originally connected the Tea Party to the snake license plate.

“I would like to know who proposed this,” Rutherford said. “If it is someone connected to the tea party, that is really hypocritical of them to use a government program to get their political message out in front of people on license plates.”

And there it was. “Hypocritical” … well let’s see what would happen at my interview.

Now I like Graeme Moore’s reporting generally, he’s done some very good reports, overall very fair. However, his first question to me was whether I thought it was HYPOCRITCAL of the tea party to request the government spend money on tea party license tags, isn’t that against what the tea party stood for? (paraphrasing, since as you’ll see in the video below this question didn’t make it into the piece.)

I told him I’d have to push back on that question, that no one I knew in the tea party requested such a plate, that in fact what I’d been able to find suggested that it was another entity, the State Museum which would receive the funds, and that no one knew which legislator proposed the plates or WHO asked that legislator to do so. You can learn so much about a legislative proposal by finding out WHO is behind the legislator making the request.

I explained that I have a spay/neuter plate and that I know where that money goes (I was involved in the discussions for that plate and its funding back when it was proposed) … the funds go to help provide low-cost surgeries for low-income SC families.

And there’s the lesson I learned from Andrew Breitbart. You don’t have to answer the questions the media chooses to ask, as the questions help to develop the story THEY want to tell. Push back on the question and tell the story as it is. Question the media right back. Use the question they ask as a way to expose the real story.

It’s too bad that exchange with Moore didn’t make the interview, as I think it’s MUCH more interesting to investigate a license plate credited to the tea party’s request with the money going to the State Museum.

Since we do not know who made this request or the details of the money I’ll say this up front, as I did in the interview: I don’t support the plate, and think our legislators’ time would be better spent on actually doing their job in getting some votes on school choice, the FOIA bill, and a real government restructuring bill.