By Miles Brown
March 8, 2014
There’s an interesting paradox that occurs every year at the Conservative Political Action Conference. No matter how ferociously the media is attacked and lambasted, they cover the conference with the fervency of tabloids covering Oscar weekend, and this year’s coverage has not disappointed.
Paul Ryan’s government lunch lie, the absolutely terrible decision by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to compare Attorney General Eric Holder to segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace and Rick Perry’s killer performance have been among some of the top stories thus far at CPAC.
But one thing that has not been as hyped is the resurgence of New Jersey governor Chris Christie and the speech he gave on Thursday. In this speech, Christie preached a message of party unity, of crafting a staunch conservative platform and not letting the media define it for them. He also made great points concerning a focus on the electability of conservative candidates. It sounds as though Christie is making his case to conservatives that he should be the man to lead the party back to electoral prominence.
His talk of taking on the media really resonated with conservatives who already lament perceived partisan favoritism of the left by the mainstream media. With this speech, Christie hoped to become a martyr of sorts. A figure who has been and continues to be relentlessly and unjustifiably crucified by the media. Overall, it was a very strong speech that reminded people of why he was the presidential frontrunner pre bridge scandal.
The problem with this approach, however, is Republicans are not even united in what they stand for. How can they stop the media from defining something they’re not even sure of? No matter how much you preach unity, none of that matters if members of the party do not have the same goals in mind, and division was clearly displayed at CPAC — no matter how much Paul Ryan tried to spin it.
The second issue with Christie’s speech that his talk of waging war on the media is incredibly futile. No matter how inept and incompetent the news media may be these days, the GOP and other political organizations need the media to get cogent platforms through to the American people. The mainstream media is one of the only places where your platforms and policies can be seen by individuals with differing viewpoints. Talk of taking the media on makes it appear as though Christie is intent on destroying the media for their coverage of bridgegate, and that won’t help his fledgling presidential hopes.
The point of this speech was to put himself back at the forefront of GOP leadership and, to be honest, the GOP needs him in that spot. But the bottom line is that it has been shown through analysis of the bridgegate scandal that Christie is one who likes to settle personal vendettas, and this speech does not help that perception.
Yes, the GOP has a deep image problem, especially in the media. But Christie should not be the one relaying that idea. It potentially devalues an urgent issue for the GOP when someone who is at odds with the media themselves is spreading the message to take the media on — especially in the middle of an incredibly crucial election cycle.
Miles Brown is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He’s majoring in political science and history with a certificate in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies. His political stance is best described as classic Progressivism in the vein of Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Croly. His post college plans are, as yet, undecided, but he’ll probably go into public policy research.