There was nothing but festering distress and especially "division" on the right at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference held last week, at least according to the New York Times. CPAC, the annual meeting of conservative activists which took place this year on the National Harbor in Maryland, generated headlines like this one from Saturday: "G.O.P. Divisions Fester at Conservative Retreat."
Washington Post columnist George Will picked up on that headline on ABC's This Week: "First, here's the New York Times headline on the CPAC conference, 'G.O.P. Divisions Fester at Conservative Retreat.' Festering an infected wound, it's awful. I guarantee, if there were a liberal conclave comparable to this, and there were vigorous debates going on there, the New York Times headline would be, 'Healthy Diversity Flourishes at Liberal Conclave.'"
Actually, Will wasn't far off. A contrast of headlines from this year's CPAC and previous years of Netroots Nation -- a roughly equivalent annual meeting of liberals and leftists --shows an obvious disparity in tone.
A couple of CPAC headlines from last Friday's Times (the paper certainly worked the "division" theme):
"Divisions in G.O.P. Are Laid Bare on First Day of Conservative Conference."
"G.O.P. Divided On Proper Role For U.S. Abroad."
By contrast, the headlines generated by previous Netroots Nation gatherings (Paul Krugman spoke at last year's event, though the Times didn't bother to mention it in its coverage) were studiously neutral and business-as-usual:
June 11, 2012: "At Meeting of Left’s Online Activists, Weighing Impact of Attack Ads"
June 4, 2012: "In June, Harbingers for the Fall."
June 19, 2011: "Digital Conferences, Blue and Red, in Minneapolis."
Online story, July 24, 2010: "Pep Rally for an Uneasy Democratic Team."