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Mainstream Media’s Appalling Coverage of CPAC 2021

Coverage of CPAC 2021
Coverage of CPAC 2021

Rarely have the elite media been more sneering and out of touch.

Wisconsin Right Now was at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. In speech after speech and panel after panel, conservative politicians and activists discussed serious policy questions and held intellectual discussions. They discussed job creation, tax policies, immigration, COVID-19 lockdowns, law enforcement concerns, foreign policy, and many other substantial topics.

You wouldn’t know it from the elite media, sniping away from their Manhattan and DC salons and desperately trying to spin a negative narrative about people they still don’t understand.

You wouldn’t know it from some on the left, who obnoxiously urged people to boycott the Hyatt for hosting the peaceful, intellectually-focused event as if it’s somehow outrageous and unacceptable for conservatives to gather and talk about ideas in a free country (good for the Hyatt, which responded, “We believe in the right of individuals and organizations to peacefully express their views.”)

Hey, elite media: Remember after the 2016 presidential election when you had a moment of collective humility and reflection, acknowledging, “We missed it. We missed the rise of Donald Trump because we don’t understand regular Americans, and we spend way too much time insulting them from our far-away beltway bubbles.”

That lasted 10 minutes. Elite media: You still don’t understand us. You don’t understand conservatives’ concerns or policy preferences. You don’t take the time to try to understand them. You’re too busy mocking and condescending. This is journalism? Remember: Millions and millions of Americans prefer conservative policy positions; enough just weren’t sold on President Donald Trump’s personality. The media ignore that truth at their own peril.

Coverage of CPAC 2021

The liberal Slate and Huffington Post sites tried to stir up controversy by ludicrously questioning whether the CPAC stage was designed to look like a Nazi symbol. Seriously?? We sat in that convention hall for days, and it never looked like anything to us but a pretty common array of lights. How full of hate do you have to be to see swastikas that aren’t there? Unbelievable. Who is engaging in insane conspiracy theories now?

CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp responded on Twitter, “Stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous. We have a long-standing commitment to the Jewish community. Cancel culture extremists must address antisemitism within their own ranks. CPAC proudly stands with our Jewish allies, including those speaking from this stage.”

Anderson Cooper described CPAC as “Woodstock for election liars” even though “the election was stolen” nonsense was not a major theme at CPAC. “Speakers embraced Trump’s lies about the 2020 election being rigged,” CNN sneered. Speakers did reference election integrity now and then (for example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis referenced ballot harvesting). But spare us the hypocrisy, media, when you spent years trying to undermine the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s 2016 election by shoving Russian conspiracy theories down the American throat. Why is it now off-limits to raise any serious questions about election integrity in America today? Serious questions about election integrity don’t equal “the election was stolen.”

The mainstream media tried to stoke up a fight between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy even though it was unsourced and denied. Then, in contradictory fashion, Vox sneered, “Kevin McCarthy’s CPAC panel shows how the GOP has devolved into a Trump personality cult,” even though the story contained a tweet that revealed, “McCarthy didn’t talk much about Trump during his CPAC panel discussion, aside from crediting him for Republicans gaining seats in the House last November.”

Business Insider sneered that the conference was “fixated” on Trump, who literally lives in a “country club.” It wasn’t. Politico sneeringly called it “TPAC.” In fact, in reality, we were surprised how little the former president came up at first. It seemed unclear whether the former president will be his party’s standard-bearer going forward. In fact, many of the most prominent speakers seemed to be trying to build themselves as Trump’s 2024 heir (we’re talking about you Ron DeSantis, Kristi Noem, Rick Scott, and Mike Pompeo).

Although some speakers mentioned Trump positively, and he wasn’t bashed, more of the speeches focused on serious policy discussions and Trump boosterism seemed an afterthought, at least until right before Trump’s talk on the last day of the convention (there were stronger speeches for him right before his talk, and a straw poll unveiled Sunday showed Trump had 97% job approval but only 55% preferred him among candidates for 2024. But in totality was the convention mostly about boosting Trump? No. Not at all). We’ve covered Trump rallies as journalists, and CPAC had a very different feel. It was more like a college lecture than a Trump rally.


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The media also tried to create narratives about conservatives thumbing their noses at COVID-19 restrictions, but that didn’t happen either. CNN wrote that the crowd “booed” a mask requirement but didn’t bother to mention that mask-wearing was strictly enforced and everyone seemed to comply (if you dared to let your mask slip beneath your nose an inch, someone was always there to remind you). The Independent similarly lied about “maskless CPAC.”

The media still don’t understand conservatives, and they aren’t even bothering to try. While they’re desperately trying to shoehorn every conservative event or speech into the prism of the appalling Capitol riots, they’re missing that 75 million (and probably more) Americans prefer conservative policy positions. Remember: The pendulum always swings back.

The real theme at CPAC was about unity over policy. Larry Kudlow, of Fox News, said it best when he told the crowd that it’s policy positions that unite conservatives and Republicans. “I went from Reagan to Trump,” he said, noting that the policies were “similar.”

The news coverage didn’t match what we saw in Orlando. While the mainstream media were running around painting a golden Trump statue as a parable of supposed conservative hero-worship of Trump or mocking Ted Cruz for a single quip about his Cancun vacation, CPAC speakers were discussing cancel culture, China, and other serious matters.

We turned on MSNBC to witness a supposedly objective New York Times reporter whose face was dripping with obvious condescension when discussing CPAC. Why do elite reporters get to claim the mantle of objectivity while acting with clear bias on national TV?

To be clear, we don’t agree with Trump that the media are the enemy of the people. We believe that a free press is one of the greatest safeguards the public has against tyranny. However, we also believe that the country’s elite media have, in many cases, abdicated their lofty role at the altar of Trump hate. He baited them by calling them biased, and they responded by revealing their bias. The net sum of this is that millions of Americans, including many we know in the heartland, do not trust the media, do not think the media are fair, and do not think the media shows any respect for them.

Ted Cruz had it right when he said that the Republican Party is the party of steelworkers, construction workers, pipeline workers, police officers, firefighters, waiters and waitresses.

Back home, we know a lot of conservatives and Trump supporters who aren’t deplorable, aren’t crazy, don’t support insurrection, and who chose Trump because they found the left’s policy positions intolerable, not because they are hero worshipers of his polarizing personality.

Sure, there were a few goofy or unwise comments by speakers. But, contrary to the media narrative, we didn’t think CPAC revolved around the negative narratives they did.

Elite media: You still don’t get it. You still don’t understand.

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