Josh Marshall on CPAC
Josh Marshall wonders why CPAC is covered much more heavily than Net Roots Nation in Talking Points Memo.
First, geography. I’m not sure whether I’d fully get the significance of this unless I had to make editorial and publishing budget decisions all the time. But I’d say at least half the issue is that CPAC is held everywhere in DC whereas Netroots Nation for instance gets held in a different city every year (which is a good thing). That means that for basically every news organization that covers national politics in any serious way it’s an easy and cheap decision to send at least one reporter and often many. It doesn’t cost anything. You’ve already got people in DC. So no plane flights, no hotel reservations. And if you send one or two people to these other shindigs, you’ll probably send 5 or more to CPAC. Again, big, big deal in terms of volume of press coverage.
The second reason is that DC remains, quite simply, mainly wired for Republicans. Just why that would be and how it works is a bit complicated to describe – to get more of a sense of what I’m talking about, look at this post from early 2009. This is starting to change a bit. Not so much because we’re in the second term of a Democratic presidency but more because of a growing awareness of demographic and political changes that are changing the country and thus will be changing Washington over the years to come. Still, while DC may no longer be “overwhelmingly wired for the GOP”, as I wrote in 2009, it’s still largely that way. Reporters are simply more interested as a general matter in the GOP because they’re used to thinking that’s where the power and action is. The fact that reporters, disproportionately, do not identify with the ideology doesn’t nullify this fact but paradoxically reinforces it.
But it’s the third thing that this reader’s question really got me thinking about and is I think the big driver besides where the conclave is held. In recent years, especially since Obama became President, CPAC’s wild press popularity and attention has been driven by what we might call a tacit conspiracy of derp between the event organizers and the people who cover it. You be outrageous; we’ll be outraged. And everyone will be happy. (After all, crap like this doesn’t happen by accident.) This has become even more the case as the contemporary Conservative Movement has become less a matter of ideology than a sort of performance art.
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center