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(50,949 posts)
Fri Feb 23, 2024, 10:10 PM Feb 23

"Being Denied a Press Pass at CPAC Was the Best Way to Cover the Conference" [View all]


I’ve attended the Conservative Political Action Conference almost yearly since 2009, always as a credentialed reporter. While there, I’ve seen the I’ve seen the early attacks on President Barack Obama, the improbable popularity of libertarian Texas Rep. Ron Paul. I witnessed the rise of the Tea Party, listened to dozens of failed political candidates like former GOP vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and was in the house for Donald Trump’s first appearance in 2011. In February 2020, I even got exposed early to Covid, just before the world shut down. But this year, CPAC head Matt Schlapp decided that the organization would no longer give press passes to “left-wing media.”

“So CPAC has a new rule,” he told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon on a segment for the right-wing cable outlet Real America’s Voice. “If you’re a propagandist, you can buy a ticket, like everyone else. But you’re not in the media, and we’re not going to credential you by saying you’re in the media.” Bannon congratulated Schlapp for the epic troll. “People’s heads are blowing up,” Bannon said gleefully.

Of course, the liberal media is still covering CPAC. It’s the oldest and largest conservative gathering in the country, launched in 1974 by veterans of Barry Goldwater’s failed 1964 campaign for president. Today, it’s held in a convention center just outside of Washington, DC, where it runs from Wednesday until Saturday when Trump is expected to appear. The fact that the whole thing was live-streamed makes it easier for those who did not want to shell out the admission fee.

I took Schlapp at his word and simply bought a ticket. I wasn’t thrilled to be contributing $295 to a conservative organization currently spending a lot of its money defending Schlapp from a lawsuit by a male Senate campaign worker who alleges that Schlapp groped him in the car while he was working for Herschel Walker in Georgia. And yet, the general admission pass did not turn out to be the liberal own that Steve Bannon and the CPAC boss seemed to think it would be.

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