So Sean Hannity, hero of Fox News, comes to Atlanta tomorrow to tug on CNN’s beard.
The streets around the state Capitol will be closed for one of the largest of 1,600 “tea party” protests across the country — juiced by news that Hannity will host his 9 p.m. show from the site.
Politicians, mostly Republican — perhaps even Joe the Plumber — will flock to the Atlanta event, which begins at 7 p.m. and runs concurrent with the Braves-Marlin game. A session with former U.S. House majority leader Dick Armey is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. or so at the Capitol.
Weather is expected to be clear and in the mid-60s. Organizers are expecting several thousand to show. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see 8,000 to 10,000,” said Randy Lewis, one of the many organizers. See the official web site here.
Fox has embraced the protests, and has scheduled its evening programming — coast-to-coast — to fit the anti-tax demonstrations.
On Monday, the move prompted CNN media commentator Howard Kurtz, who also writes for the Washington Post, to note that Fox has practically become “a co-sponsor.”
Kurtz acknowledged that CNN has been restrained in its coverage. Heavy Fox promotion has caused Atlanta organizers to worry that local TV affiliates might also be wary.
“We’re talking to all the affiliates. We’re trying to make sure they know Fox isn’t a sponsor,” said Randy Lewis, a publicist and organizer. “They’ve chosen to wrap their programming around the event. They’re not officially sponsors or anything. I suppose CNN could do the same thing. They’ve been behind the curve.”
Jared Thomas, head of the Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity — which is one of the sponsoring organization — holds out hope for some CNN love. “Certainly, we’d welcome a large cable network that’s based in our fair city,” Thomas said.
Some media have already made the commitment. Huffington Post, the left-leaning news aggregator, is soliciting “citizen journalists” to attend the event. “We’ll contact you shortly with further instructions,” the web site announced — oh, so ominously if you are of certain political leanings.
Said Fox’s Neil Cavuto, who will be attending a tea party in California:
“Only eight days before a nationwide tea party, some over-caffeinated crashers aiming to lay waste to it. Reports of very well-organized infiltrators trying to mix in and rain on this parade.”
Friends of the event could also be a problem. Thomas Wheatley at Creative Loafing reports that renegade Libertarians — the state party is a sponsor of the event — intend to pass out signage that takes issue with a certain celebrity’s position as hero of the American right.
The kindest message is an image of a screw (flat-edge, not Phillips) with the continued phrase, “Hannity and his Republican stooges. They’re the ones who started this train wreck.”
Seriously, traffic could be a concern. Below is the note sent to state employees by the Georgia Building Authority, with specific info on street closings:
Please be aware of increased traffic congestion and road closures on Wednesday evening due to a special event – the Atlanta Tea Party – at the Capitol. Washington Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Mitchell Street and Courtland Street (two block radius of the Capitol) will close at 6:30 p.m. The roads are slated to reopen about midnight.
There is no street parking immediately around the Capitol (Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Washington Street, Capitol Square and Capitol Avenue) after 5 p.m. and the Steve Polk Plaza/Depot Parking lot will close at 3 p.m.
In addition to the Atlanta Tea Party, which is expected to draw several thousand attendees, the Braves host the Florida Marlins at Turner Field at 7 p.m., bringing sports fans downtown. Both the Atlanta Braves Shuttle and commuter buses are scheduled for regular operations on Wednesday.
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