On MSNBC's Daily Rundown on Friday, NBC political director and host Chuck Todd used low attendance at a Conservative Political Action Conference panel discussion to take a cheap shot at Republicans: "For a party struggling to change its demographic destiny, this picture taken by a Brookings Institution fellow of an almost empty ballroom at a panel on Republican outreach into minority communities, should be a bit of a warning. You don't want to play into your party's stereotypes there." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Thursday, Brookings fellow John Hudak tweeted during the 2 p.m. ET event: "Big problem for GOP. Most important #CPAC2014 panel. Topic: minority outreach. View: largely empty room." He included the picture Todd referenced, a shot from the back of the large main ballroom at CPAC showing rows of empty chairs.
In an article posted on the Brookings Institution FixGov blog later that afternoon entitled "Live from CPAC: The Most Important Panel Everyone Missed," Hudak ranted: "If the attendance pictured above reflects the party's future approach to diversity outreach, it is probably safe to say that for some the given future, the White House will be a solid hue of deep blue."
Hudak and Todd failed to mention what attendance was like for every other CPAC panel discussion. Generally the big-name speakers at CPAC get the large crowds and the panel events conducted in between – in the same huge ballroom – tend to get lower attendance.
With that context missing, it gave the impression that CPAC attendees specifically avoided a discussion on minority outreach rather than simply favoring the most prominent speakers over lesser-known panelists, no matter what the topic happened to be.
Here is a transcript of Todd's March 7 remarks on Daily Rundown:
9:09 AM ET
CHUCK TODD: One more thing, for a party struggling to change its demographic destiny, this picture taken by a Brookings Institution fellow of an almost empty ballroom at a panel on Republican outreach into minority communities, should be a bit of a warning. You don't want to play into your party's stereotypes there. And though CPAC's panel on immigration was well-informed, respectful, and representative of diverse views, it was also attended by just about 50 people.