Following this year’s edition of the Conservative Political Action Conference that featured a slew of right-wing media personalities flinging red meat to the base, CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy helpfully defined grifting to CNN viewers while noting that CPAC is basically just wannabe conservative celebs looking to bilk the rubes and raise their personal profiles.
During Sunday’s Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter stated that grift “is one of the top words of this political moment” and that liberals and some conservatives are calling Trump and pro-Trump media figures grifters looking to exploit the president’s fans. After saying that this behavior was on full display at CPAC, Stelter turned to Darcy to explain grifting and why it is coming up more these days.
“It’s basically this idea of exploiting gullible people to sell something, to raise your brand awareness,” the reporter said. “And I think it’s coming up because, well, look Brian, CPAC has always been a representation of where the Republican Party is, where it’s going and not sure it was ever this place for intellectual discourse as some people would say.”
He went on to state that in recent years the conference has become more like Trump and, therefore, you see a lot more grifters at the event who throw “red meat rhetoric” at the crowds. Name-checking TPUCA’s Charlie Kirk and conservative provocateur Michelle Malkin, Darcy explained that folks like this are just trying to get “subscriptions to their organizations.”
“So it’s no longer any pretense of discussing intellectual philosophy about the conservative movement,” he added. “It’s now about really raising your brand, owning the libs, and selling your books to these people.”
Stelter brought up new Fox News contributor Dan Bongino, who uses his website to sell survivalist stuff and “junk that people really don’t need.”
Later on in the conversation, New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi was asked about media coverage of Trump’s long-winding and off-the-rails CPAC speech in which the president said “bullshit,” asking her if news outlets should bleep out the president’s words. Before answering that question, however, Nuzzi wanted to touch on Trump’s long history of grifting.
“I have to say, the president is also the grifter-in-chief,” she asserted. “A lot of things we see at CPAC, Donald Trump really perfected. He had Trump steaks and Trump Vodka, Trump ties, trump cologne, the Trump Board Game. He has been selling useless products associated with his brand for years and years.”
She continued: “And profiting wildly from it. And now we see it, you know, taking on a new — even seedier form as he’s in office and profiting from his hotel in Washington, D.C. And things like so I think that just like he sets the tone for what the Republican Party is now more broadly, he also kind of okays this behavior by having done it so often.”
Watch the clip above, via CNN.