What better way for lawmakers to welcome the NRA’s national convention in Nashville this weekend than with a
public spat with members of the state press corps over a bill to allow permitted guns in parks?
During a testy news conference last week, GOP leaders in the Tennessee House accused statehouse reporters of advocating against the gun measure, debating rather than questioning the lawmakers about it, and acting like Democrats. (You can read a transcript of the presser here, which led to a snarky post at Wonkette.)
That a heated exchange and the gun bill hype is happening just as the NRA rolls into town might not be a giant coincidence. As the politics blog of the business journal Nashville Post noted, the spat transpired the first time this year that House GOP leaders held a detailed sit-down with journalists to discuss legislation. It’s the most high-profile recent example of a growing transparency battle between the statehouse press corps and politicians in Tennessee.
Consider last month, when the state’s four major newspapers joined with The Associated Press to expose an apparent growing trend at the capitol in which House lawmakers hold unannounced secret pre-meetings before publicly discussing pending legislation in committees.
Here’s how The Chattanooga Times Free Press described the practice: (continue reading)