Max Blumenthal Hounded, Challenged at CPAC
On the way in to Newt Gingrich’s speech I spotted a crowd of the size that usually clouds around a 2012 presidential hopeful. It was Max Blumenthal, who was trying to conduct a Q&A with Hannah Giles and had drawn in dozens of onlooker with video cameras and tape recorders. A combative CPAC attendee named Jeff Cappella, a graduate student who’d spent 14 years in intelligence (I happened to have been buttonholed by him yesterday, when he gave me a Socratic grilling on torture) was firing shots at Blumenthal.
“You’re using guilt by association,” said Cappella, knocking Blumenthal for having reported on James O’Keefe’s attendance at a 2006 forum on race and conservatism. “You’re here now — are you a conservative?” He pointed to his own “Draft Cheney” sticker. “Do you support Dick Cheney for president because you’re here?”
(Photo by David Weigel)
“I support Dick Cheney for the Republican nomination,” said Blumenthal.
“For president of the United States?”
It got more combative — Cappella mocked Blumenthal for turning his head away (“You can crack your neck all you want, but I’ve got you on the ropes.”) while Blumenthal mocked Cappella’s pretentiousness (“You like the word ‘rubric,’ don’t you?”). Cappella stumbled when he asked why Blumenthal didn’t worry about President Obama having a “Hamas member in his cabinet” — when he couldn’t back it up, the liberal reporter finally succeeded in getting back to Giles, offering to give her and James O’Keefe signed copies of his book if they grabbed a drink.
“I turn 21 in June,” she averred. “I could have a lemonade!”
How manic was this? As I tried to walk on, a reporter for the CBC shoved a microphone in my face and asked what we were watching. “What is this? What is happening?” he said. I pointed him to Cappella, who seemed confused that the media wanted to cover his sparring match. In the background, Blumenthal tried to move on, followed by more cameras. When you remember that Blumenthal started getting real attention for his exposes when he filmed a combative “unauthorized documentary” at CPAC 2007, this role reversal — with giddy, camera-toting conservatives trying to cut him down to size — was incredibly ironic.