Free Speech Panel at CPAC Canceled by Pamela Geller After Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft Banned

Pam Geller (Stephanie Keith / Getty)
Stephanie Keith / Getty

Conservative commentator Pam Geller revealed on Breitbart News Daily on Wednesday morning that her panel on free speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) had been canceled because she refused to remove Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit as a participant.

“Late last night, I received a call … demanding that I remove one of the speakers from the panel. I would not do this. I told them it was unconscionable that a panel on free speech — I mean, it’s, I don’t know if anybody sees the irony, and this just happened — and I’m sorry, I’m breaking it on the show, actually,” Geller told Marlow.

The panel was announced on Tuesday by Breitbart News. It was not officially organized by CPAC or the host organization, the American Conservative Union. It was sponsored by the American Principles Project (APP) in coordination with CPAC, and was to be held as a breakout session at the conference Friday afternoon.

Geller said that she had been asked to exclude Hoft after a post at Gateway Pundit on the Parkland shooting in Florida last week. The site has published several posts criticizing the students who are advocating for gun control.

The demand, she said, forced her to cancel the panel.

“They know me. They know I would never remove a panelist, particularly because of some position they have, or something that they said. And they were unmovable, and so the panel has been canceled, the social media censorship panel has been canceled.”

Terry Schilling, executive director of APP, told Breitbart News that the cancelation was “completely Pamela’s call and completely avoidable.”

He said “I’m scrambling right now to put together a new panel on this, because she sabotaged it.”

“I didn’t want the entire conversation to be about Jim Hoft. And guess what? Now it is,” he said, faulting Geller for making the disagreement public. “This right here is why no one should ever work with her.”

As Breitbart News reported Tuesday, the social media panel was to have consisted of Hoft, Geller, conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, former Google engineer James Damore, and others. “The social media corporations today hold more power over the public discourse than any totalitarian regime ever held. They do not just target voices with whom they disagree, but they make sure that those voices are unable to sustain themselves,” the description of the panel originally read.

Schilling told Breitbart News that Hoft’s “rant” on Monday evening, alleging that the teenagers had been “coached,” made him a poor choice for the panel, and that there were too many panelists anyway.

Hoft posted an article Monday titled: “EXPOSED: School Shooting Survivor Turned Activist David Hogg’s Father in FBI, Appears To Have Been Coached On Anti-Trump Lines [VIDEO].” The article has since been widely criticized.

“I don’t want this panel completely sabotaged by Jim Hoft deciding to go rogue,” Schilling told Breitbart News, describing his reasoning at the time. He criticized Hoft for attacking “the victims of gun violence” rather than addressing their ideas. “It should be about their arguments,” he said.

He acknowledged that Hoft had helped his father, Robert Schilling, in his successful run for Congress in 2010 — notably, by exposing the incumbent Democrat’s lack of regard for the U.S. Constitution — but said that “personalities” should not be the focus of the panel.

“This has nothing to do with CPAC. This was my call,” Schilling said.

Geller pointed out that other conservatives had also criticized the students, including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “It’s just obscene that this tragedy is being politically exploited, and even worse by using children as the front men.”

In the past, Geller had been excluded from CPAC because of her views on radical Islam. In response, Breitbart News organized an alternative gathering at CPAC, “The Uninvited,” focused on national security issues.

Geller said she had carefully negotiated with organizers this year to stage the social media panel, she said, noting that she had been flexible about the logistics for her event.

Marlow agreed that social media censorship was “the most important issue,” noting that just this week Google had restricted access to a PragerU video about Planed Parenthood.

He argued that social media companies’ efforts to shut down conservative media companies by restricting their access to the platforms would not be allowed in any other industry.

Geller said that she believed that antitrust litigation might ultimately be necessary to address the issue.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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