While the national media dig through CPAC 2010 material for anything potentially embarrassing to fling at conservatives, their actions highlight a stark example of the blatant double standard applied to controversial speakers.
Back in 2009, the Netroots Nation Convention took place in Pittsburgh just before the G20 summit. Even though it hosted a number of far-left agendas, the media stuck to popular, mainstream subjects in their coverage.
The archive section of the official site of Netroots Nation revealed shocking material largely ignored by the national media. Below is a list of some of the ridiculous discussions that took place:
- Tearing down the wall between church and state to advance "faith based" progressive agendas.
- Stacking SCOTUS with progressive judges to circumvent the Constitution.
- Why Democrats are not pro-abortion enough.
- A panel sponsored by the United Nations Foundation to criticize America for taking the world's food supply.
- An unhinged panelist literally yelling that the electricity in the building was evil.
- Using the EPA to bypass Congress.
- Coaching teens on how to educate their parents.
- Fighting "science denial" on the right.
Did you hear about any of those topics last year from the mainstream media.
All of the above subjects were covered in official panel discussions, not just obscure information booths from fringe attendees. Readers are encouraged to watch the archive footage to see how rationally such things were being discussed.
Yet journalists who covered the event worked hard to portray attendees as caring, intelligent, forward-thinking people who only wanted the best for America. Descriptions of the event were kept vague while highlighted speakers were always portrayed as pragmatic.
CNN.com's Political Ticker page chose very friendly language to describe the event:
Speaking Thursday to a crowd of political activists at the annual Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh on Thursday [...]
The four-day convention for left-leaning bloggers, thinkers and activists is themed "This ain't no tea party."
The Washington Post called the convention "a new conclave of progressive bloggers and liberal activists" while the Boston Globe made a passing reference to "liberal bloggers" who organized the convention.
Former President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker last year, and the media were excited for a chance to promote him.
The Associated Press covered his speech, not by framing it as a pander to the far left, but simply to parrot his attacks on Republicans:
Republicans have turned to terrifying people in the debate over overhauling the health care system because the GOP has no political clout to fight it, former President Bill Clinton told a gathering of progressive bloggers on Thursday.
Clinton was president when the Democrats made their last major effort to change the health care system. The big difference now, Clinton said, is that Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate as well as control of the House.
The former president called "crazy" the charges that promoting living wills and other end-of-life planning is somehow promoting death.
Clinton spoke at the opening session of the Netroots Nation convention, a gathering of politically progressive bloggers and other online activists.
Over at the New York Times, its politics blog The Caucus fawned over the saintly Clinton who whisked in from charity work to give an inspirational speech:
As the keynote speaker on the opening day of the Netroots Nation conference, Mr. Clinton began rather quietly, apologizing for a hoarse voice caused by being on too many planes lately. (Perhaps a reference to his rescue mission for the journalists detained in North Korea or to recent speaking events around the country. Or to that birthday party in Las Vegas. ... )
Did the NY Times give such positive PR to the CPAC conference? Hardly.
Less than one year later, the exact same blog accused conservatives of racism while covering the CPAC convention, which NewsBusters exposed.
On its news pages, the Times claimed Republicans had shown up to "pay tribute" to angry conservatives. It warned "the conservative celebration does not necessarily translate into Republican power" because "some of those at the conference advocate positions that might be problematic for more mainstream Republicans."
The extreme positions advocated by liberals were by no means a problem for Bill Clinton, but being too conservative would hurt Republican politicians.
CNN.com likewise claimed that prominent Republicans were there to "capitalize" on a fundraising opportunity. As for the content of the convention, CNN thought it most important to play up the feud between McCain and Hayworth to pit the right against the center.
For its part, the Associated Press covered CPAC with the most negative tone of all:
Along with the right wing's new fervor, the GOP's struggle to find a unified voice was clear from the start of the annual three-day Conservative Political Action Conference - both in the speaker whom organizers chose to deliver the keynote address but also in what he had to say.
Amazing how a far left convention was a harmless "gathering of progressive bloggers" while CPAC was full of "right wing fervor."
Apparently, the only unreasonable or extreme views in politics reside firmly on the right.