Mainstream Media on Cantor Shocker: We Should've Read Breitbart News
When Dave Brat was on the verge of becoming the first candidate in history to defeat a sitting House Majority Leader in a primary on Tuesday evening, shocked mainstream media reporters and pundits scurried away from their leisurely dinners to become "experts" on television.
Political reporters who often only read and talk to fellow scribes cocooned in the D.C. bubble may not have been blindsided had they occasionally read Breitbart News, which Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-VA) allies dismissed to their cozy friends in the mainstream press.
As the political world chaotically scrambled to get information about Brat and also discovered that American workers in Virginia's seventh district may not like amnesty legislation that threatens to lower their standard of living and wages, two seasoned Washington, D.C. political editors highlighted Breitbart News' reporting on the race.
Dave Wasserman, the editor of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, conceded that the media did not know the "mood" of the primary voters because, "Most of us weren't reading Breitbart News." And Josh Krashaaur, the National Journal's politics editor, mentioned how closely Breitbart News was covering Cantor's bobbing and weaving on amnesty and his tone-deafness in proclaiming his support for giving amnesty to the children of illegal immigrants the Friday before his primary and during a national crisis on the border.
Breitbart News reported that Cantor ally Linwood Cobb was ousted from a key GOP chairmanship in his district on May 10 in a fight that showed grassroots conservatives in Cantor's district who jeered him were not the least pleased with his team's machinations, especially regarding "slating."
Contrary to the instant conventional wisdom that seem to emerge out of nowhere from reporters who had not paid attention to the race, Cantor did not take his race completely for granted after that. And though Brat spoke about a host of other issues, he only started to surge when he centered his campaign around amnesty after he saw his opening. Cantor's campaign knew there were rumblings, though they could not have expected the earthquake that would rock and shake the political world and the D.C. establishment to its core. But when Cantor flooded the mailboxes of his district's voters with deceptive anti-amnesty mailers in the weeks before the primary, Breitbart News reported it. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) went to Cantor's district to campaign for amnesty legislation, and conveniently reinforced the message that Cantor was an anti-amnesty warrior.
When Brat said that Cantor elevated his name identification when Cantor arrogantly tried to smash him, Breitbart News reported it. Last week, the We Deserve Better independent PAC launched a 30-second spot that warned voters in Cantor's district that Cantor would cut a deal with Obama to give "amnesty and citizenship" to illegal immigrants. Breitbart News reported the significance of it.
And when Laura Ingraham appeared at a campaign event for Brat, Breitbart News reporter Michael Patrick Leahy was there, as even the New York Times recognized in a post-election recap on conservatives and outlets that covered a race the political media ignored -- even though it was in their backyard.
"I have this crazy idea, as does Dave Brat, that coming to our country, respecting our way of life, our laws, is a condition precedent to your becoming an American citizen," Ingraham said at the event, as Leahy reported. Ingraham noted that Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi want Cantor to win the primary so they can have a partner on amnesty legislation. Ingraham, Ann Coulter, and Mark Levin backed Brat because they saw Cantor as the personification of the out-of-touch Washington establishment.
When Cantor's words contradicted his mailers in an interview on a local television station in which he said he wanted to work with Obama to give the children of illegal immigrants amnesty, Breitbart News reported it.
"But I have told the President there are some things that we can work on together," Cantor said the Friday before the primary. "We can work on the border security bill together. We can work on things like the Kids."
When Brat said Cantor was in part responsible for giving illegal immigrants the idea that they will be granted amnesty if the cross the border, Breitbart News reported it, just like Breitbart News first reported that illegal immigrants were being warehoused in detention facilities in Texas.
"One you announced that kids are welcome, they're going to head in," Brat said on Breitbart News Sunday of Cantor's support for giving the children of illegal immigrants amnesty and citizenship because he believes it is one of the "founding principles" of the country. When Brat said it was "one of the most radical pro-amnesty statements ever delivered by a sitting representative," Breitbart News reported it.
Brat also declared that Cantor's support for amnesty was the "central policy issue in this race" in a Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed, which Breitbart News reported.
"The central policy issue in this race has become Cantor’s absolute determination to pass an amnesty bill. Cantor is the No. 1 cheerleader in Congress for amnesty," Brat wrote. "This is not the Republican way to fix our economy and labor markets."
Mainstream media reporters observed that Brat's message resonated with working-class voters but failed to note that Brat repeatedly emphasized that he, as an economist, was against illegal immigration and amnesty because it, first and foremost, lowers the wages of American workers in an economy that has left many of them behind. That was how he established credibility with primary voters who were not content with Cantor.
Often in the final weeks of the campaign, it seemed like Brat was being tutored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has been the most prominent anti-amnesty critic in the Senate and has relentlessly fought for American workers during the amnesty debate. Brat was saying the same things about tight labor markets and policies that put American workers first that Sessions has been hammering, as Breitbart News has been reporting.
Breitbart News has also reported that the Congressional Budget Office determined the Senate's amnesty bill would lower the wages of American workers. It has reported the concerns that U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow expressed in a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus in which he urged them to vote against amnesty legislation because it would hurt low-skilled black workers. Cantor supported an increase in the number of high-tech visas that are awarded to guest workers, but Breitbart News has reported on scholars who have determined that there is not a shortage of high-tech American workers, despite the spin from Cantor's allies and his funders in the high-tech and science industries.
Take the American Chemical Council, which, as Breitbart News reported, spent $289,000 in ads for Cantor. That marked the "first time in the ACC's 142-year history that it has made an independent expenditure on behalf of any candidate in a contested primary."
According to National Journal, Cantor's campaign was frustrated with conservative outlets like Breitbart News honing in on Cantor's bobbing and weaving on amnesty. Cantor's chief adviser Ray Allen said, "the glitterati doesn't want to talk about those [economic] issues because it doesn't view them as sexy."
Cantor has spent plenty of time with the real "glitterati," though. This year, he was caught hobnobbing at the Davos Economic Summit before he scampered away with an aide when a Huffington Post reporter spotted him. He has previously attended the Aspen Ideas Festival and recently mingled with elite leftist financiers like George Soros at Amelia Island with groups that declared war on the Tea Party.
Those optics only reinforced Brat's message that Cantor was selling out voters in the district for whatever the global elitists wanted. Dr. Bob Holsworth, who has moderated many statewide debates in Virginia and is one of the most prescient observers of Virginia's political scene, told Breitbart News, "Republican populists viewed him as a corporate-oriented, Brooks Brothers elitist who represented what they increasingly disliked about career politicians."
When Brat introduced himself to America and the political class on Fox News after his victory, he said that amnesty represents the biggest divide between Wall Street elitists and Main Street. Brat had been hammering that message, but it was the first time that most mainstream media reporters who were just 95 miles from the epicenter of the most shocking upset in their lifetimes heard it. In that sense, they were no different from Cantor, who was ousted for losing touch with voters in a hometown that is only a two-hour drive from Washington.