They have some things in common — the need to rebound from recent woes and to carve out identities against fierce competition — but CNN and the Tea Party Express would seem like unlikely candidates for a partnership.
For CNN, the joint sponsorship seems to undermine the nonpartisan positioning it’s made its brand, linking it with a controversial conservative political action committee whose former chairman resigned after a series of race-baiting comments (including calling the proposed Lower Manhattan mosque a monument to worship “the terrorists’ monkey god”).
For the Tea Party Express, the debate could damage its credibility with the tea party movement, whose followers have been leery of the mainstream media and of the Tea Party Express itself, which rival tea partiers blast as a GOP-linked slush fund.
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But it places both organizations among a select number of political and media players sponsoring debates in the derby to determine the GOP nominee to take on President Barack Obama in 2012 — including the Iowa and South Carolina Republican parties, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, POLITICO, NBC News, Fox News and ABC News.