Like many analysts in the “mainstream media,” New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters sought to explain how David Brat -- a 49-year-old economics professor and virtually unknown candidate -- won the Republican primary in Virginia on Tuesday, unseating Eric Cantor, a seven-term incumbent who has served as the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Peters' explanation? During a lengthy article the following day, he asserted that the upset victory was made possible by the intervention of “potent voices of the conservative media,” including GOP radio talk show hosts Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin.
The report began with discussion of an interesting event:
If Eric Cantor needed evidence that his political career was in real trouble, all he had to do was look outside his living room window one night last week.
At a stately country club about half a mile from his home in the affluent Richmond suburb of Glen Allen, so many people had come to see … Ingraham stump for Mr. Cantor's opponent … that the overflow parking nearly reached his driveway.
Peters noted that “Ingraham was so taken aback at the size of the crowd -- inside the clubhouse, hundreds of people crammed onto staircase landings, leaned over railings and peered down at her from above -- she wondered aloud what was going on.”
“We all looked at each other, saying, ‘He could totally win,'” she declared in an interview after the event.
Few people did more than Ingraham to “propel Brat from obscurity to a national conservative hero,” Peters stated, noting that “his out-of-nowhere victory was due in large part to a unique and potent alignment of influential voices in conservative media.”
While the national press considered Cantor a shoo-in, Peters stated that Brat “was a known quantity to the loyal audiences of radio personalities like Ingraham and Mark Levin, a Reagan aide and a revered figure in the conservative movement, and Breitbart.com,” the website founded by the late activist Andrew Breitbart.
'Together, Levin and Ingraham reach nearly 10 million people each week,” he stated, and “the Breitbart sites log 60 million page views each month. Those audiences are heavy with engaged, politically motivated voters who turn out in Republican primaries -- the kind of voters who came out for Mr. Brat on Tuesday.”
Ingraham, who went to law school at the University of Virgina, had Brat as a guest on her show many times, especially when the national focus was on illegal immigration and, in particular, the influx of children along the border with Mexico.
“You can’t just put the blame on Democrats,” she said last week before stating that Cantor – who is considered a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by many conservatives -- “has expressed his unending sympathy for people who’ve come here illegally.”
“Brat’s supporters said that without the help of Ms. Ingraham and other conservative media stars, the passion that Brat supporters had never would have been enough on its own,” Peters noted.
“'Don’t discount intensity, and when you marry intensity with this media opportunity that we didn’t have 10 years ago, it’s powerful,'” said Patrick M. McSweeney, who worked on the Brat campaign before becoming the general counsel of the state Republican Party recently.”
As NewsBusters reported earlier on Wednesday, several pundits from both sides of the political aisle have tried to explain Brat's victory and predict what it means to the future of the nation.
NBC newsman Chuck Todd said that Cantor's defeat means immigration “will absolutely tear the Republican Party apart” while MSNBC's Chris Jansing asked: 'Was the Demise of the Tea Party overstated?'
At CNN, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin played up the loss as evidence of how “conservative the contemporary Republican Party is” while Dana Bash called Cantor's loss “sad” because “Republicans now will not compromise.”
On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell claimed that the GOP is in disarray following the upset, and Frank Lutz told CBS This Morning that “We Republican pollsters suck” since they have been wrong in predicting the outcome of several recent political contests, including the 2012 presidential election.
Interestingly, Peters stated at the end of his article that Ingraham was “celebrating her son’s sixth birthday with friends on Tuesday night, not paying much attention to the election results when, she said, a friend called with the news. She jumped in elation, prompting her friends to ask what had happened.”
“They asked: ‘What's going on? Did you just hit Mega Millions?'” Ingraham told Peters. “I said no, but this might be better!”