April 17, 2010

From The Tea Party

What Happened with Hannity

Dear Fellow Citizens and Taxpayers,

I hate to write this email, because this controversy detracts from the message and the purpose of our rallies. Our goal with everything we do is to spread our message of our shared values - free markets, fiscal responsibilty, and limited government. Regardless, Chris and I have been getting bombarded with questions and I want to share with you what we know.

First, a bit of history. We were already underway with planning for this event when we learned that Hannity was coming to Cincinnati for his book tour on Tax Day and was planning a separate event. We were ready to sign a contract with UC for the arena and we paused because of the risk of competing events. We were concerned with our ability to cover costs for the event if Hannity drew people away.

Chris made contact with Fox producers and we agreed to work together. He would cover our event for Fox and would broadcast his show from Cincinnati. It worked out for everyone. We got a media spotlight on our message, they got a great backdrop for them to do a show.

We executed our contract with UC and then Fox did the same. While we coordinated schedules for the event, they had no contract with us, nor any financial interest in what went on. At no point was money exchanged between Fox and the Cincinnati Tea Party or Hannity and the Cincinnati Tea Party.

This was the root of the controversy. Earlier today, George Soros-funded Media Matters jumped on the fact that we sold tickets to cover the cost of the event as evidence that we and Fox were "profiting" on the event.

Despite knowing clearly that this was not true, Fox caved and pulled Hannity back to New York.

About 4:30 tonight, I was standing talking to people in line for the book signing when I heard people start saying that Hannity was not coming. I tried to find the source and I found out that local media was reporting that Hannity had been deverted while in route and was heading to Lunken Airport. I went downstairs to find Chris and we found that the Fox producers had locked themselves in their "green room" and that we were not allowed in.

Eventually we were allowed into the room where we spoke with two Fox producers. The senior producer explained that Hannity had gone back to New York for an emergency and that he couldn't tell us anything more than that. He was very apologetic and strongly hinted that it was a personal emergency. He even said they had a guest host on standby for his program tonight.

Given the explanation, we believed them. We asked about getting some of his show guests to speak and Joe the Plumber was added to our lineup. Even if we were skeptical, we didn't have time to wait - UC Police were insisting we announce information to the restless crowd in the concourse. We then made the announcement to the crowd with the information we had and moved forward with the show.

We continued to work to gain information while the show was on as we were hearing more rumors that Fox had pulled him because of the controversy above. Eventually, Chris spoke to a Fox VP who took responsibility for pulling him because we charged for tickets.

The Fox staff we worked with planning the event knew exactly how it was structured and it was no surprise to anyone that we charged for tickets. In fact, Hannity was well aware as he plugged the event and reminded people to get tickets multiple times on his shows.

I want to point out a couple of things in response.

First, Hannity promotes conservative causes/organizations/groups/events all the time - this is nothing new.

Second, I reject the accusations of "profiteering" from the event. Cincinnati Tea Party is a non-profit, political organization, and 100% volunteer. Not a single person has ever personally profited from anything we do. In fact, we each donate hundreds of hours of our time trying to build this movement and spread our message.

This event cost (numbers aren't final - we will get billed by UC for security, cleanup and other costs) over $50,000 and took thousands of man-hours to get done.

None of us are event organizers or promoters. We are ordinary citizens with jobs and families who do this in our spare time because we love our country and passionately believe in our values.

I've already recevied angry emails from some who are disappointed that Hannity did not come. We will honor all refund requests. We will have a process setup within the next 48 hours to get that done. In the meantime, I need to get some sleep and prepare for my day job.

I understand the frustration - I really do. Keep in mind that this is what the left wants. This is why Media Matters attacked us and Hannity and started the chain of events that led to Fox pulling him out - it's because they fear the power of our message.

Instead of talking about what a wonderful event it was, I'm talking about a completely manufactured controversy. And it was a great event. We had almost 10,000 people show up and listen to a great lineup of speakers and music. We sang our national anthem and ended with God Bless America.

I know I speak for the 300+ people who volunteered their time to help make this Tax Day Tea Party a success when I say that we will not be intimidated, silenced, or bullied. The fact that we were the targets of a leftist attack today or that Fox stupidly gave into pressure just adds to my resolve to fight onward.

Our message is too important and too powerful to do anything less. Our freedom and our country are worth fighting for.


Mike Wilson

Founder, Cincinnati Tea Party


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