CPAC 2011, the Conservative Political Action Conference, was held in an environment unlike any in recent memory. The event, which takes place in Washington, D.C. each year and is sometimes called “The Conservative Woodstock,” featured plenty of controversy heading into the conference. Several major groups pulled out over a series of battles that rocked the conference and the organization that puts it on each year, the American Conservative Union.
The controversies involved the inclusion of GOProud, a gay activist group that claimed, and was claimed by the organizers, to be conservative on most issues, and thus welcomed into the big tent. But groups such as the Heritage Foundation, one of the most powerful and respected organizations in the conservative movement, opted out. A spokesman for Heritage said, “We want to promote economic freedom, a strong national defense and social conservatism. We think these policies are indivisible.” Other social conservative groups also dropped out, but most stayed. This, after all, has for years been the most important and complete gathering of conservatives under the same roof.
Another source of conflict involved the question of whether the Muslim Brotherhood, and by extension, radical Islamists, were quietly gaining a foothold in the conservative movement. The issue was aired out openly among the participants, which often occurs at CPAC. Ironically, some of the same questions were being asked in the context of the Egyptian revolution, which toppled the 30-year president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, that same weekend. Can the Muslim Brotherhood be trusted, or is it a radical group bent on establishing Sharia Law in the U.S. and Egypt? At CPAC, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy and David Horowitz of FrontPageMag and the Newsreal Blog were arguing that Suhail Khan represented the stealth takeover of CPAC and eventually, possibly, the conservative movement. Khan is an ally of Grover Norquist, a board member of the American Conservative Union and the founder of Americans for Tax Reform, and one of the organizers of CPAC. Khan also worked in the George W. Bush administration, but his father had been very active in the Muslim Brotherhood, and Muslim Brotherhood-associated groups in the U.S.
A third controversy was the fact that the organization itself was being investigated for the reported embezzlement of $400,000 by the ex-wife of David Keene, the head of the ACU, until he gave that position up in the midst of all this, and it was announced that he would no longer be the force behind CPAC. Shortly thereafter it was announced that he was going to head up the National Rifle Association.
What gets most of the attention at CPAC are the likely presidential candidates who speak there, and the winner of the straw poll. This event is always viewed as a key stop on the path to becoming the GOP nominee in the next election. And this year was no exception. None have officially tossed their hats in the ring, but plenty of appearances were made by likely candidates. The list includes Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, John Thune, Haley Barbour, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump and Mitch Daniels, all of whom spoke. Others considered potential candidates who didn’t show up included Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio. The winner of the straw poll for the second straight year was Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who calls himself a Republican, but is really a libertarian. Mitt Romney came in second, with the rest of the field trailing way behind.
The media had a field day, attempting to marginalize and ridicule the line-up, painting the group as racist tea-party supporters, birthers, and lightweights. As AIM Chairman Don Irvine wrote, “The only reason [Chris] Matthews went after CPAC with such zeal was to marginalize a conference that drew over 10,000 people and put the conservative movement on display, which is a real threat to the Democrats in 2012 and something he only wishes the liberals could effectively duplicate.”
I was particularly impressed with some of the new members of Congress, and other bright lights of the movement: Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), and Governor Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico.
There were dozens of panels going on at CPAC. This is a treasured part of CPAC —great discussions on timely issues—that get little or no attention from the media. There are many policy experts and political activists who participate in these panel discussions. Among my favorites was one called “Lawlessness, Racialism and Terror at Obama’s Department of Justice,” consisting of Andy McCarthy of National Review, who successfully prosecuted the Blind Sheikh and others involved in the first World Trade Center bombing, Hans von Spakovsky, formerly with the Justice Department as counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights and a member of the Federal Elections Commission, and J. Christian Adams, the Justice Dept. official who blew the whistle on the racial politics involved in the decision by the Obama Justice Department to drop the New Black Panther voter intimidation case, which occurred during the 2008 presidential election.
Andy McCarthy talked about the Obama Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder. He said Holder had filled the department with lawyers from “The al-Qaeda Bar,” meaning lawyers who had worked for up to eight years representing the enemy in war time. He argued that even if one accepts the idea that these people, most of whom were captured on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, were entitled under the U.S. Constitution to the same rights as American criminals, which he doesn’t, these were very often habeas corpus cases, not criminal cases. In other words, it was about getting a court to look at their case, not to actually defend them.
McCarthy said it was “atrocious” to give them such rights, including systematic access to our courts while the war was ongoing. In fact these same people could have been shot and killed on the battlefield by our troops with no legal consequences. McCarthy pointed out that there are rights for combatants under the Geneva Accords, but these people do not belong in that category.
One other outrage pointed out by McCarthy was the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, had told a military commission that he was ready to plead guilty to this heinous act of terror. But President Obama and Eric Holder pulled the plug on the military commission and announced back in November of 2009 that they planned to try him in a civilian courtroom in New York City. Two months later, in January of 2010, under intense political pressure, they backed off those plans, but to this day have not announced what they plan to do with him.
Christian Adams discussed his experience at Justice involving the New Black Panther case. He said that he was told to not comply with a subpoena to testify about the case, and that the DOJ lied to Congress, and gave inaccurate testimony to the Civil Rights Commission.
Another panel was called “The Sharia Challenge in the West,” with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of the books Infidel and Nomad, Jim Woolsey, former CIA Director, and Andy McCarthy. The panel was moderated by Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
AIM Honors Journalists At CPAC
AIM had an active role at CPAC. On the opening day of the conference, AIM gave the annual Reed Irvine Journalism Awards to Ken Timmerman and Tucker Carlson. Both received checks for $1,000.
Timmerman, who won the award for Investigative Journalism, is a journalist, author, and contributing editor for Newsmax. His recent books include Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender, and Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran. He has a new novel out, called St. Peter’s Bones, about the persecution of Christians in Iraq. In 1998, Timmerman tracked Osama bin Laden and his international terrorist network for Reader’s Digest, and his exposé was published just weeks before the bombings of the two U.S. embassies in Africa. In April 1983, Timmerman was the first U.S. correspondent on the scene when the U.S. embassy in Lebanon was blown up by Islamic militants. Through his Foundation for Democracy in Iran, Timmerman has been working for about 15 years, helping the pro-democracy movement in Iran.
During his comments and the Q&A that followed, Timmerman talked about his career as an investigative journalist. He discussed his guiding principles for investigative journalism: 1) “Don’t run with the pack—it’s best to stay away from the pack; and 2) Don’t be afraid of unpopular things, trust your instincts and trust your sources, but question them hard.” He described the incident in 1982 when he was captured by terrorists and held for a couple of weeks. He said the Lord didn’t want him to be a martyr, but rather a witness.
He later made it his business to get to know what Saddam Hussein was up to regarding weapons of mass destruction, back in the 1980s. He said he “got to know every arms dealer in Baghdad” at that time. He later worked for both the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a congressional committee, putting his first-hand knowledge and expertise to good use. Wiesenthal cited Timmerman, saying that he, Wiesenthal, had been tracking the murderers of yesterday, and that “this guy Timmerman is tracking the murderers of tomorrow.”
He shared a fascinating and telling experience when he was working for Time magazine. He essentially broke the “ChinaGate” story. He said he went to trusted sources in the Customs office, who told him that America’s B-1 Bomber plant in Columbus, Ohio was being shown to Communist Chinese officials at night when the plant was shut down. Timmerman couldn’t believe this was happening, but it was. The Clinton administration was allowing a whole series of defense production facilities to be seen, and in some cases to make deals with the Chinese.
Timmerman took the story to his editors at Time. Working with them, he wrote a long, detailed story, ready to go. The Friday before the story was supposed to run, he was taken inside the editor’s office and fired. He was told they got a phone call from the Department of Commerce. He said yes, “I interviewed people there and asked them why they were allowing this technology to go to Communist China. They said, ‘you really annoyed some people in the Clinton administration. You’re fired.’” Timmerman’s reaction was, “that’s really extraordinary.” He said that he may be the only journalist to be fired from a major news organization for writing a story that annoyed an administration. “I thought that was what we were supposed to do. Time has since shown that it is no longer a national news organization, but a publicity bureau.”
He said his biggest story ever was about the involvement of Iran in the 9/11 attacks. He wrote about that in his 2005 book, Countdown to Crisis. It is a story that few people today are aware of.
And finally, he offered advice for young reporters. He said to “find a story you like and follow it. Learn everything you possibly can about it. Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong. Once you know you’re right, stick to your guns, stick to your guns, and don’t be afraid of controversy… you will pay a price for telling the truth, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it here to be in this room with you, to tell the truth, and know that you’ve pursued the truth, even at a cost, at a personal cost, at a cost in terms of your career. Speaking truth to power always has a cost. The sad irony, I have to say as a journalist, is that these days, the power to which we speak truth is the entrenched establishment media. Thanks very much, it’s a great honor to be here.”
Tucker Carlson won the Reed Irvine Award for Grassroots Journalism, for his compelling conservative website, The Daily Caller. Carlson is co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, and is a senior fellow of the Cato Institute. He formerly co-hosted CNN’s “Crossfire” and MSNBC’s “Tucker.” Asked about the deal in which the very liberal Huffington Post was recently bought out by AOL for $315 million, he said it was good for online journalism in that it established a monetary value for the top operations. And, he said, “It says a lot about the transition that the conventional media are dying.” He said that The Huffington Post is technologically savvy…its platform is first rate, but its content is really limited…first of all her [Arianna Huffington’s] politics are ludicrous, when they’re not just flat out offensive.”
Tucker talked about The Daily Caller’s work exposing the existence of JournoList, an Internet forum on politics and the news media which was comprised of about 400 leftist journalists and academics. “I’ve worked in the press my whole life and grown up around it,” said Tucker, “and like Ken, and I’ve always known the obvious which is that 99.9 percent of reporters are liberal. Not all of them are liberal activist types, but their default position is liberal. They’re all pro-choice, they’re all secular, none of them hunt, (laughter). I’m serious. They’re culturally liberal. and a lot of it is unconscious. There are some, a small but intense minority, of left-wing activists in the media. And very pernicious, it’s actually scary in my view, especially around election time… The JournoList series, written by our fantastic reporter, Jonathan Strong, really exposed the degree to which there is a coordination between some of them of the intentional kind. Not just, ‘wow, we all sort of have the same perspective; isn’t Sarah Palin a buffoon,’ that’s the way most people in the press look at the world. But there are some who aren’t journalists at all, who actually coordinate their message in order to help a specific political candidate, in this case Barack Obama, and that is by definition, dishonest, and those people ought to be kicked out immediately from the fraternity of journalists. And the fact they weren’t tells you very much, I believe.”
During the Q&A he was asked about Media Matters, the far-left, Soros funded media watchdog group headed up by David Brock. Carlson said that Media Matters “has an enormous amount of influence, and has no credibility at all. Media Matters has nothing to do with journalism. It’s a political organization that was started partly in response to a request by Hillary Clinton…It is run by a political operative, a group of them. They are highly ideological, they are utterly unscrupulous, they are provenly dishonest. I hold them in complete contempt. And I don’t feel that way about people that I disagree with by and large.”
As you can see, AIM’s Reed Irvine Award winners were very deserving of the recognition. AIM also had a session at CPAC called “Media Training for Grassroots Activists,” which provided grassroots training to anyone who wanted to attend, regarding new media techniques to get out their message. Cliff Kincaid and I both spoke, but this one was mainly featuring the expertise of AIM Chairman Don Irvine and AIM’s new director of Public Relations Logan Churchwell, who expounded on the use of Twitter and Facebook to organize and spread the message. There was a great deal of interest in this topic, and AIM delivered an important and useful seminar.
Media, Not Boehner, are “Tongue-tied” on Obama’s Personal History
By Cliff Kincaid
Following the lead of David Gregory of NBC News, who wants Republican House Speaker John Boehner to publicly defend the legitimacy of the Obama presidency, the Los Angeles Times has now editorialized that Boehner ought to make it his business to rebut charges that Obama is a foreign-born Muslim.
With the Los Angeles Times joining the chorus, it appears that the left-wing media are trying to get the House Republican leadership to pull Obama out of the quicksand he finds himself in, as doubts and questions keep mounting about his personal history. The media strategy seems to be to paint GOP House leaders as crazies if they don’t condemn the “birthers” questioning Obama’s legitimacy as President.
It is almost as if the media are trying to prevent the House Republican majority from conducting a serious investigation into the circumstances of Obama’s birth.
The Times said in an editorial, “In an interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Boehner was willing to concede that he believes Obama is both a native-born citizen and a Christian. But, the Speaker said, that was because ‘I’ll take him at his word,’ as if Obama’s assurances were the only corroboration of his citizenship and his religion.”
The paper went on, “In fact, a ‘certificate of live birth’ establishes that he was born in Hawaii. As for his religion, Obama’s involvement with a Chicago church is well documented.” The editorial was titled, “The tongue-tied speaker.”
But the Times demonstrated that it is far beyond “tongue-tied” itself and is deliberately obscuring the facts.
Any journalist who bothers to compare Obama’s “certification of live birth” with traditional documents of this nature finds that the Obama version does not provide any of the details that are available on a long-form or original birth certificate. Obama’s vague document does not have the name of the hospital where he was born, the occupation of his father or mother, or the signature of the attending physician.
On the matter of religion, Obama’s “involvement with a Chicago church,” the one associated with the notorious anti-American preacher Jeremiah Wright, does not prove that he was baptized as a Christian. As we have noted, Obama has made the claim that he joined that church, but he has not produced a certificate of baptism and there is no evidence he had a traditional Christian baptism there, in the sense of undergoing an experience of receiving water symbolizing the Holy Spirit. In addition, Muslims could join Wright’s Christian church.
“Even more objectionable,” the Times said, was Boehner’s refusal to tell the American people what to think about these matters. This means, the Times said, echoing David Gregory, that Boehner is failing to expose and challenge the American public’s “ignorance.”
Rather than demonstrating ignorance, the opinion polls finding that significant numbers of people are confused about Obama’s religious identity, and the fact that some believe he is a Muslim may reflect the failure of the major media to insist that Obama prove who or what he says he is.
This failure is troubling, especially because we know that Obama and his campaign deliberately lied about Obama’s childhood mentor in Hawaii, Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis. Obama concealed his real identity in his book Dreams from My Father and when it was revealed that the mysterious “Frank” was in fact Frank Marshall Davis, the Obama campaign in 2008 said Davis was just a civil rights activist.
Boehner is entitled to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, although his constituents might wonder why he is doing so, considering the stakes involved in an issue as central as Obama’s constitutional eligibility to be president. But the American people have the right, in light of the available evidence, to remain doubtful.
It is not unreasonable to believe that Obama has something to hide in the matters of his birth and religious affiliation. It is significant that our major media seem now to be in a frenzy over the fact that the House Speaker is unwilling to erase the public’s doubts.
Matthews: ‘CPAC Is Almost Like a Carnival Levitation Act’
By Don Irvine
After spending the last few days focusing on the events in Egypt, Chris Matthews turned his attention to the just concluded Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and spent the segment poking fun at and attacking the speakers.
Matthews started off with clips from Andrew Breitbart, Herman Cain, John Bolton and Ann Coulter, and remarked to David Corn that “there’s some people you don’t want to meet in a bar, that’s for sure, even if you’re watching Star Wars,” and that “it’s almost like a levitation like in some carnival act, like they’re levitating and it has nothing to do with reality.” Corn, who works for the left wing magazine Mother Jones, added that it was like a zoo where you are allowed to feed the animals, and that while he, Matthews and Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall were focusing on Egypt, the CPAC speakers were attacking Obama for being a socialist.
Marshall said the speakers were operating in an alternate reality and that there isn’t anything Obama could say that would change what they were saying in any way. Marshall added that the ‘Obama hates America’ theme wouldn’t play well in the 2012 presidential campaign and would be seen as “out there.”
Matthews then asked how much the person who runs against Obama next year will have to “kiss butt” with this crowd to get the nomination and lamented how a credible person like Pawlenty has to act zany to get the nomination.
The discussion turned to Ron Paul, who won the straw poll on Saturday, and Matthews used that as an opportunity to go after one of his favorite targets, Sarah Palin.
Palin, who has never attended CPAC, received 3% of the vote in the straw poll and Matthews thought she should have done better since the “zanos” who attended the meeting, Marshall added, are her constituency.
But Matthews failed to mention how contrived the poll is. First of all, Paul only won because he brought in the largest number of fiercely loyal supporters. None of the other potential candidates mounted any type of concerted effort to win the straw poll, making Romney’s showing even more remarkable since he finished only 7 points behind Paul.
Like almost any poll, though, out of sight is out of mind, and with Palin’s absence a low vote percentage was inevitable. It likely has nothing to do with what Marshall said were the hits she has been suffering lately.
But why bother with facts that would only lessen the impact of an attack on Palin?
The only reason Matthews went after CPAC with such zeal was to marginalize a conference that drew over 10,000 people and put the conservative movement on display, which is a real threat to the Democrats in 2012 and something he only wishes the liberals could effectively duplicate.
Dear Fellow Media Watchdog,
On February 18, I interviewed former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for my weekly show “Take AIM” on BlogTalkRadio, an Internet based network. Politico picked up the story and said that I had gotten Rumsfeld “to play media critic for a spell.” He talked about the Newsweek story about a Koran that was supposedly flushed down a toilet, which turned out to be false; about CNN’s failure to report on some of Saddam Hussein’s more vicious acts in the period leading up to the war; and about The New York Times and others publishing classified information that might have been detrimental to our troops in the field.
CPAC, the main story in this AIM Report, is always a lot of fun, very informative, and a great opportunity to take the pulse of the Conservative movement. I have attended every one since 1998. As I mentioned in this AIM Report, Rep. Ron Paul won the straw poll for the second year in a row. Mitt Romney finished a strong second place. Of the approximately 11,000 in attendance, 3,742 votes were cast. Paul won about 30 percent and Romney about 23 percent. Next were Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, another libertarian like Ron Paul, and popular New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, both with six percent of the vote. Trailing them was Newt Gingrich, with five percent, and others, including Haley Barbour and Sarah Palin.
This was very good news for Romney supporters. Paul is thought to have no chance to win the nomination, and reportedly many of his votes came from people who were bused in to inflate his numbers. Clearly there is a young, sizable contingency of Paul supporters who turn out each year for him. But the gap between Romney and the rest of the field of people likely running was huge. Many conservatives are suspicious or concerned about how conservative Romney really is, and how problematic the Massachusetts health care plan implemented when he was governor might prove to be. Some see it as a potential plus for Romney. The health care plan in Massachusetts, Romney argues, was meant to be a market-based solution at the state level, states being the laboratories for national policy. It wasn’t being imposed upon the country. It became unwieldy when the Democrats took over the statehouse. And Romney can legitimately claim to know the perils of national health care better than anyone, and a promise to sign legislation repealing ObamaCare might go a long way for him.
Our awards ceremony was a big success, and everyone felt we had picked two very worthy journalists. We believe Reed Irvine would be pleased. Your support is vital to us, so that we can continue doing the important work we’re doing here at AIM. And use the enclosed postcard to order a copy of the Reed Irvine Awards presentation at this year’s CPAC. I know you’ll enjoy it. Thanks so much.
For Accuracy in Media
This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) not only showcased potential candidates for the 2012 presidential campaign, but also pointed out how media savvy the conservative movement has become. Conservative activists, producing their own YouTube videos, newscasts and movies, are now viewed as “hip” and “cool.”
But the mainstream media bias has only gotten worse. What about traditional media outlets like The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN that still pump out misinformation to millions of people every day? That’s why AIM started its own internship program for student journalists called the American Journalism Center (AJC). This program provides talented young writers a chance to publish their work, and helps them develop a range of professional skills that they can use in their careers with the mainstream press. In five short years, we have trained more than 50 students, and some of them are already working for top media outlets like the Washington Examiner, National Review and Commentary magazine.
The American Journalism Center is critical to the future of honest reporting. To help ensure that we can continue this vital work, send a donation to AIM.