Why CPAC Is a Shell of Its Former Self

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This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), long a mainstay in Republican politics, wasn’t quite the A-list event of years past, at least according to Fever Dreams hosts Kelly Weill and Will Sommer.

“Just look at how CPAC’s organizer Matt Schlapp kicked things off in his opening speech,” Weill said. “He goes, ‘There’s a lot of chatter in the media over who’s here and who’s not here’—this is something he said in, like, the first 15 seconds of this speech.”

“But it’s not just that the crowds were kind of lackluster. There were some really glaring factional absences as well,” Weill continued.

No Ron DeSantis. No Turning Point USA. And select few Fox News personalities, despite the fact that the network’s streaming service, Fox Nation, was one of the event’s main sponsors.

Instead, the event was covered by outfits like Real America’s Voice, Newsmax and even something called Proverbs Media Group, which describes itself as “a multifaceted organization whose mission is focused on restoring the values of Faith, Family, and Country by means of sharing Conservative and Christian values.”

Weill believes it “suggests to me that you don’t really have the big-name draw,” Weill said. “You’re really reaching into the weeds for anybody to pay attention.”

Then, Isaac Arnsdorf joins the podcast to talk about his own CPAC experience, with breakout star Kari Lake, who failed to win Arizona’s governor race last November but propelled herself to MAGA stardom with a Big Lie-style campaign at the state level.

“She’s a real celebrity,” Arnsdorf said. “She has really made herself a superstar in the movement, in contrast to all the other election deniers who lost in 2022 and have kind of faded away. She has harnessed that into ongoing fame within the movement and possibly a continuing political career if she decides to run for Senate.”

Plus, in the podcast’s Fresh Hell segment, Weill gives an update on the legal woes of Andrew Tate, the misogynist influencer and alleged human trafficker currently detained in a Romanian prison—as well as the bizarre rumor that he has lung cancer.

Listen, and subscribe, to Fever Dreams on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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