The type of people who attend a conference like the Conservative Political Action Conference — popularly known as CPAC — may tend to already think they are pretty special by virtue of their supposedly superior moral fortitude and, for many, their evangelical views that lead them to self-identify as God’s chosen ones.
With their conservative values of self-reliance and limited government, many attendees of CPAC are wealthy elites from political, business, or religious hierarchies who are used to being in positions of privilege and power and can rely on personal connections to help them out of the temporary setbacks that life may throw their way from time to time, rather than being dependent on the government safety nets that the less comfortable majority of Americans must depend on.
With that in mind, it seems that when suddenly confronted with a two-tiered system in which they are not among the lucky few in the top echelon, those CPAC attendees are not so happy about systems of inequality after all.
Hence, their outrage at how the organizers of what many regard as the Conservative Coachella have dealt with the aftermath of the discovery that one of their own has been revealed to be the Typhoid Mary of the right-wing — spreading the microbes of the COVID-19 virus among the Trump worshipers as they glad-handed their way through the conference with their gold-level ticket that allowed them virtually unlimited access to the backstage corridors.
As Politico reports in an article about the scramble among CPAC attendees to get information about their level of exposure to the deadly virus at the conference, the leaders at the American Conservative Union which organizes the event have treated the high-level VIPs who were potentially in contact with the unnamed infected right-wing camp follower much differently then they have dealt with the people now relegated to the hoi polloi.
As of yesterday evening, “just over a dozen” people have been contacted and notified that they were in direct contact with the virus carrier, who, unlike the whistleblower who recognized that Donald Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine was not exactly “perfect,” the organizers do not wish to publicly identify, according to a spokesperson for the ACU. The group had also told slightly under 100 attendees that they may have been in the same room as the mystery carrier.
Accroding to Politico: “VIPs have been notified directly even to be told they did not interact with the infected man, while ordinary rank-and-file conference-goers have by and large been left to wonder, receiving only vaguer information in mass emails. Meanwhile, critics have noted the irony of prominent officials downplaying the outbreak even as the disease may silently have been spreading among the Trump administration’s own members and supporters.”
Ian Walters, the ACU spokesman, said that he was unaware of any prominent politicians besides those who have already announced their own self-quarantines who were notified about any potential exposure to the coronavirus. S0 far, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Congressmen Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Doug Collins (R-GA) have all locked themselves away from further human contact, with both Gaetz and Collins having been in the proximity of Donald Trump between their exposure to the virus and being told about it.
While Walters defends the post-conference actions of his organization, “a set of pro-Trump social media personalities with large followings who have been often accused of promoting conspiracy theories in the past” beg to differ. They claim that they have only gotten vaguely worded email notifications about their potential exposure and that the GOP VIPs have “gotten preferential access to vital medical information,” Politico says, putting CPAC officials in the uncomfortable position of being on the receiving end of the ire of the right-wing fringe activists.
“CPAC is handling it exactly the wrong way,” said Mike Cernovich conservative social media agitator and noted Pizzagate promoter.
“There’s one tier of people with information and another tier without,” said Jack Posobiec, currently a correspondent for One America News and another right-wing internet troll who pushed the discredited conspiracy theory.
Kimberly Klacik, a Republican activist running for a House seat in Maryland, also complained about the lack of attention paid by CPAC to less famous conference attendees in a bitter Twitter post.
So, at @CPAC I had a table, met hundreds, shook hands with hundreds. My daughter has been sick for a week. I have to cancel today’s events because of it.
— Kimberly Klacik (@kimKBaltimore) March 10, 2020
The email that seemed to trigger those not well-connected enough to get personal attention from the conference organizers told attendees that “This attendee had no interaction with the president or the vice president and never attended the events in the main hall.” A later email expanded the information to include the note that no one has yet to test positive for the virus after contact with the infected carrier.
With the Trump administration’s slow response and lack of preparedness for the epidemic ensuring that effective test kits for the virus are in short supply, that statement was less than reassuring to the disaffected attendees.
“What annoys me is CPAC spends the whole fucking email reassuring me that Trump is fine and not anything about the person in question or whether we, who attended are fine,” said a former Trump administration official who attended CPAC. “Have something in there about contacting CDC if you have symptoms or something. I don’t care about Trump’s health.”
Welcome to how the majority of Americans likely feel at this point.
Original reporting by Ben Schreckinger at Politico.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.