SALENA ZITO: Dismissing Tea Parties is Perilous:

Everybody complains about taxes and government spending, but nobody does anything about them.

Perhaps that’s because whenever they do something, they’re often labeled as racists, right-wing extremists or worse.

That’s what happened when various news organizations covered the April 15 “tea parties” across the country; the media clearly did not know what to make of such a robust turnout for the loosely organized events, and wound up dismissing or belittling them.

The tea party movement may or may not go forward — but anytime the media or politicians dismiss a grassroots effort, they do so at great peril.

People attending those tea parties were consumers and voters, with a decent number of registered Democrats and independents sprinkled in.

State Rep. Josh Shapiro, a Philly-area Democrat set to run for Republican Arlen Specter’s U.S. Senate seat, was not keen on the rhetoric at some of the events, but he is wise enough not to ignore the real concerns of angry Americans.

Elected officials “should be trying to figure out where that anger is coming from and address it, rather than trying to find ways to dismiss it,” Shapiro says.

Read the whole thing.