Accuracy in Media

In an almost-unprecedented announcement, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) formally disinvited a sitting Republican senator from attending its annual event in the Washington, D.C. area this year. Matt Schlapp, president of the American Conservative Union, tweeted the disinvitation announcement and said, “The ‘extreme conservative’ and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, @SenatorRomney is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020.”

The media highlighted CPAC’s disinvitation of Romney without providing context on whether the formal disinvitation was truly newsworthy. For example, one headline from CNN read, “Organizer of conservative conference won’t invite Mitt Romney after impeachment trial vote.” Romney’s stance on Trump is nothing new, as he has a history of criticizing the president on multiple occasions.

Despite the media’s coverage of the formal disinvitation, Romney has not attended nor spoken at CPAC since 2013. He spoke at the event in 2012, when he was running for president as the GOP nominee, and also in 2013 after he lost the 2012 presidential election. Romney did not return to the conference since then, but none of this information made it into the mainstream media’s coverage. Of all the mainstream outlets, only The Hill reported about Romney’s past CPAC appearances.

Romney, a U.S. Senator from Utah and the former 2012 GOP presidential nominee, has been a consistent critical voice of the president, such as voting to allow more witnesses to testify during the Senate impeachment trial last week. The senator also criticized Trump’s rhetoric in the 2016 election cycle and spoke at a University of Utah event about Trump’s allegedly divisive rhetoric. In his speech, he called Trump “[a] con man, a fake.”

But the mainstream media hyped Romney’s disinvitation from CPAC without providing context on whether Romney was likely to attend the annual event.

Considering Romney’s public criticism of Trump, it was unlikely Romney would have attended this year’s meeting in the first place.

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