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Will a Tea Party Convention Derail the Movement's Progress?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

All in the Family

Next month's first-ever tea party convention is drawing criticism from many within the grassroots movement. Politico reports some activists are unhappy about the event's organizers, the high ticket prices — $350 and $550 — and the $100,000 speaking fee for Sarah Palin.

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson of Redstate.com writes: "Charging people $500 plus the costs of travel and lodging to go to a "National Tea Party Convention" — run by a for-profit group no one has ever heard of — sounds as credible as an e-mail from Nigeria promising me a million bucks."

One of the sticky issues is balancing the grassroots foundation of the movement with the desire to organize and become a bigger part of the political debate. The possibility has been raised that some tea party activists could demonstrate outside the convention. Anthony Shreeve, a former Tea Party Nation member who resigned from the convention steering committee, says: "It would really look bad for tea parties to be out there protesting the tea party."

Plane and Simple

The plane that was forced to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River last January has landed on the auction block. The banged-up US Airways airbus A320 is included in an online salvage auction by insurance firm Chartis.

The aircraft was listed "as is," missing two engines and having severe water and impact damage. The original posting said bidding would end March 27, but an update on the Web site says due to the high volume of interest, more information will be added so all interested parties can be accommodated.

Radio Silence

And finally, liberal radio network Air America shut down Thursday and will soon file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The network was launched in 2004 as an alternative to conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh. But it struggled over the years to make a profit. The company says 10 consecutive quarters of declining ad revenue and the difficulty of making money on the Internet contributed to its troubles.

Fox News Channel's Lanna Britt contributed to this report.

Bret Baier currently serves as anchor of Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Bret Baier" (weeknights 6-7PM/ET), the top-rated cable news program in its timeslot. Based in Washington, D.C., he joined the network in 1998 as the first reporter in the Atlanta bureau. Click here for more information on Bret Baier