FLASHBACK: Recalling Years of Liberal Media Mockery of CPAC

February 25th, 2024 10:33 AM

As they have for the past 50 years, grassroots conservatives gathered this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), capped by a speech yesterday by former President and current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

And throughout those years, liberals in the media have snickered and scoffed at the “zany” attendees (who presumably don’t care much for the liberal media, either). NewsBusters has tracked the coverage over the years, as both journalists and late-night comics have slammed CPAC as akin to “the bar scene in Star Wars,” “an aviary for far-right ‘wacko birds,’” and an “audience of malignant children.”

“They are not Americans,” MSNBC’s far-left host Ed Schultz smeared in 2015. “They don’t care about the greater good of society.”

Just last year, ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel ridiculed CPAC as a conference where “every low-rent radio host and podcast racist with a dye job and a fleece vest shows up to try to out-crazy each other.”

Here’s just a sampling of the nonsense going back to 2011, all from the NewsBusters’ archive:

■ “Whenever you think progressives need to calm down and get real you should head over to something called CPAC. It’s the right-wing jamboree that puts the zany in the same room as the zanier....”
— Host Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, February 14, 2011.

Correspondent Peter Hamby at CPAC: “So it will be interesting to see in this kind of conservative petri dish how Mitt Romney is received and how his challengers are received too, Suzanne.”
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux: “I love that, ‘conservative petri dish.’ That’s a great way to describe it.”
— Talking about the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on CNN’s Newsroom, February 9, 2012.

■ “CPAC, mind you, is no enclave of moderation and reason. It’s more like an aviary for the far-right “wacko birds” whom John McCain recently called out.”
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni in his March 24, 2013 column.

■ “Do you remember the bar scene in Star Wars, with all those wild-eyed creatures from every part of the solar system? Well, today here in Washington the whole tapestry of weirdness was reenacted at the annual convention of something called CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee [sic].”
— Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, March 6, 2014.

■ “It was the address of a malignant child delivered to an audience of malignant children. If you applauded, you’re an idiot and I feel sorry for you.”
Esquire’s Charles Pierce in a March 8, 2014 blog post about former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s speech at CPAC.

■ “I think there are parallels drawn by some of the things Hitler was saying and some of the things that were at the CPAC convention. They are not Americans. They don’t care about the greater good of society.”
— Host Ed Schultz on MSNBC’s The Ed Show, January 13, 2015.

■ “CPAC, if you don’t know, is an annual event. It’s like Comic-Con for neo-cons and neo-Nazis too.”
— Host Jimmy Kimmel during his monologue on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, February 23, 2021.

■ “Speaking of mobs of angry idiots, this week is the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. It’s a who’s who of ‘Who needs that many guns in their rec room?’...Of course, with all the crises facing our nation, conservatives are focusing on the most pressing issue of all: Fascists being kicked off of Twitter.
— Host Stephen Colbert on CBS’s The Late Show, February 23, 2021.

■ “The only truly unifying thing at CPAC, the beating heart of modern conservatism, were the dumb, invented culture war grievances, as evidenced by their complaints about total nonsense, like The Muppets and Mr. Potato Head....The Conservative Political Action Conference revealed once again that the modern conservative movement remains totally detached from reality.”
— Host Seth Myers on NBC’s Late Night, March 2, 2021.

■ “In Washington, the fascist and the furious have gathered to praise their lord and savior, Donald Trump, at the annual CPAC convention. This is a convention for all your worst aunts and uncles....This CPAC event, it’s kind of hard to explain, every, like, low-rent radio host and podcast racist with a dye job and a fleece vest shows up to try to out-crazy each other.”
— Kimmell on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmell Live!, March 2, 2023.

■ “Once, a Republican primary season tradition — speeches to the party faithful at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC....is now a platform for white grievance politics, loyal acolytes of former President Donald Trump...and election deniers.”
— Correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez in a report on PBS’s NewsHour, March 3, 2023.

For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.