Olbermann turns down invitation to Dallas Tea Party rally

POSTED: Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 11:41am
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 9:53am

At least one invited guest will not be coming to Saturday's Dallas Tea Party anniversary rally.

The conservative group challenged Keith Olbermann to come to Dallas City Hall after the liberal talk show host questioned the racial diversity of Tea Party events on his MSNBC talk show. He had noted photos of overwhelmingly white crowds at rallies.

Also Online Link: Dallas Tea Party
On Tuesday night, on his Countdown show, Olbermann thanked the group but declined the invitation, citing his father's poor health. The event is scheduled for noon Saturday.

But the Dallas Tea Party didn't stop at just an invitation. A Web video fires back at Olbermann and featured an online banner of MSNBC personalities that the cable network uses to promote its daily lineup. All are white.

"We have more diversity on our three-person steering committee than your entire TV network lineup," a narrator says in the video, which also features minority Tea Party members talking about issues that concern them.

Olbermann, in his response, defended the network and noted its minority anchors, contributors and guests.

And he repeated his questioning of Tea Party diversity, saying the Dallas group should focus not on MSNBC but on recruiting blacks, Hispanics, Asians and others to attend its events.

Katrina Pierson, a member of the Dallas group's steering committee, said it's not surprising that many black voters would not identify with Tea Party principles, considering they still support President Barack Obama. But, she said, the group is diversifying.

Diversity "does matter to me," said Pierson, who is black. "The Tea Party principles benefit the black community."

Dallas Tea Party leaders wanted to respond to Olbermann because they thought his commentaries reflect misunderstanding in the news media about Tea Party groups, said Phillip Dennis, a member of the group's steering committee.

"None of these people have ever been to a Tea Party," he said. "We focus on the way people think and their ideology, not the way they look."