You are hereHuffington Post: Conservatives At CPAC Search For The Right's Woodward And Bernstein

Huffington Post: Conservatives At CPAC Search For The Right's Woodward And Bernstein

By FZ - Posted on 16 February 2012

-By Michael Calderone

February 13, 2012- WASHINGTON -- While Republican candidates score points slamming the media from the stump, prominent conservatives, gathered in Washington D.C. for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, were busy encouraging young attendees to pursue journalism.

Several conservatives, in interviews and on CPAC panels, said that young, right-leaning journalists have the chance to influence the establishment -- or as they say, "liberal" -- media, as well as the ability to launch new sites to broaden the media landscape. They talked about harnessing the potential of the Internet and social media to offer a counter-narrative to the national press, while arguing that the Obama administration and Democratic-aligned organizations aren't being covered aggressively enough. And whether conservatives supported infiltrating the national media or taking a DIY-approach outside the system, there seemed to be a consensus that it's reporting, rather than opining, that will make a difference.

National Review blogger Jim Geraghty, during a Saturday panel, told attendees that with all the tools available for reporting online or starting a blog, it's now a "golden age for conservative journalism." Hot Air's Ed Morrissey, seated next to him, said that conservatives need to increasingly make the transition from commenting "on the news being gathered by other people to gathering the news ourselves" -- even if that means simply picking up the phone to confirm a quote or get a statement. "We need to be used to going out and committing random acts of journalism," Morrissey said.

It's not that conservatives don't already have a number of right-leaning media outlets. Anyone strolling through the CPAC exhibition hall in recent days saw booths from several right-of-center magazines (American Spectator, Human Events, American Conservative, Weekly Standard), a couple newspapers (Washington Examiner, Washington Times) and conservative watchdog organizations (Media Research Center/NewsBusters, Accuracy in Media). In addition to free copies of the latest issues, CPAC attendees could also take home bumper stickers at the MRC table that articulated a commonly held view among them: "I Don't Believe The Liberal Media."

But despite those long-running publications and organizations -- along with National Review and newer online outlets, like the Tucker Carlson-led Daily Caller and Andrew Breitbart's "Big" sites -- conservatives still say there's a long way to go in combating the influence of the establishment media, along with convincing young conservatives that there's a viable career path in reporting.

Michael Goldfarb, a Weekly Standard contributing editor and partner at lobbying firm Orion Strategies, told The Huffington Post that "a lot of conservatives, they want to be involved in journalism, but our heroes are all pundits."

"They want to be Rush Limbaugh. They want to be Bill Kristol. They want to be Charles Krauthammer," Goldfarb continued. "The model is not Woodward and Bernstein on our side. So, one of the things we would like to do is become a place where young, aspiring conservative reporters can go, can make a name for themselves, and can make a name for ourselves."

These days, Goldfarb is trying to make a name for the Washington Free Beacon, a week-old conservative news site run by the Center for American Freedom, which he chairs. The Free Beacon is modeled after ThinkProgress, the site run by the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund. (BuzzFeed's Ben Smith recently reported that it's being launched with "several million dollars," but CAF, like CAP, doesn't reveal its donors). Goldfarb and several other CPAC attendees this past week -- and conservatives in recent years -- also suggested looking to the models of The Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo, two news organizations with roots in the liberal blogosphere now producing original reporting daily.

Matthew Continetti, who also cut his teeth at the Weekly Standard, is editor-in-chief of the Free Beacon, which is already getting attention in the conservative media world. During an interview with Goldfarb at CPAC, Mark Hemingway, online editor of the Weekly Standard, swung by and told him that the Free Beacon is "kicking ass." But Goldfarb isn't only looking for validation from conservative journalists; he says that he'd like to see Free Beacon reporters someday getting poached by the likes of the Washington Post or Politico, not unlike how journalists from left-of-center Beltway magazines like the American Prospect and the New Republic have made similar career jumps in the past.


Mark Crispin Miller
Progressive Democrats of America