CPAC deserves blame for Jonathan Krohn fiasco

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Politico’s report yesterday about conservative wunderkind Jonathan Krohn’s leftward evolution has stirred up a lot of attention and controversy.

Krohn is best remembered for what can only be described as a douchey‘ speech, delivered to the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), when he was 13-years old.

(Note: CPAC was under a different regime when this dreadful embarrassment occurred.)

Predictably, Krohn now regrets it, and admits he was merely parroting what he had heard growing up in conservative Georgia. “I think it was naive,” he now reflects. “It’s a 13-year-old kid saying stuff that he had heard for a long time.…”

So who’s to blame? Over at Commentary, Alana Goodman takes Krohn’s parents to task, asking: “‘What were his parents thinking when they pushed him into the national spotlight as a “conservative pundit’ at just 13-years-old?” (If politics is “Hollywood for ugly people,” I think we know the answer.)

A better question: Why would a venerable institution like CPAC undermine the stature of their platform by allowing a kid to give a speech? By doing so, they certainly did their brand no favors.

This, of course, is part of the “dumbing down” of politics and political coverage. It’s a novelty. It’s the same reason “Hannity” has NASCAR drivers on to talk about politics. (I get it, sometimes political movements must incorporate a bit of showmanship and gimmickry to sell their ideas.)

Not every TV show has to be like “Firing Line,” and not every CPAC speech can be delivered by Walter Williams. Still, the people who control major events like CPAC ought to keep in mind their responsibility for preserving the integrity of the conference. Let’s hope the current leaders of CPAC don’t repeat this mistake.

UPDATE: A reader emails me this:

To be fair, he only gave a 2 minute speech as part of a panel of young activists. Young Americans for Freedom — which was all college and high school activists — co-founded CPAC with the ACU.

While young activists were cofounders of the conference, speaking used to be an honor pretty much reserved for the elected national officers. I think they should simply vet for carefully.. or move 2 minute activists to a side room like they did last year.

Matt K. Lewis