MSNBC’s Chris Hayes has found himself in the most unusual company of late. And no, we don’t mean No. 1 Hayes fan Tommy Christopher hovering over Hayes while he sleeps at night.
On Saturday Hayes leaped to the defense of the gay Republican group GOProud, which was banned from participating in this year’s CPAC. Hayes had previously been secured by organizers of CPAC, the annual mega gathering for conservatives and Republicans, to speak on a discussion panel.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Of course I’ll go!’” Hayes, an outspoken liberal, said on his show Up! “As someone who attempts to convene discussions across various ideological boundaries, I have a special appreciation for CPAC’s willingness to invite someone with my politics to speak to the attendees.” He said he opted not to attend once GOProud was banned from participating as a group. “It’s not okay to ban organizations for reasons of pure bigotry,” he said.
GOProud was also banned from speaking at CPAC last year after other conservative groups boycotted the event, citing GOProud’s inclusion as the reason.
Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud’s executive director, commended Hayes. Though CPAC organizers have invited GOProud members and supporters to attend as individuals, LaSalvia told FishbowlDC in an email that he won’t be going. As for calling for a boycott of the event: “I think boycotts are stupid. I’m sure that there will be plenty of people there who will show their support for GOProud.”
LaSalvia told BuzzFeed: “We certainly have lots of political differences with Chris Hayes, but we appreciate him doing the good and right thing in refusing to be a part of rank bigotry.”
Daniel Foster of the conservative National Review also sided with Hayes today.
“Though I don’t agree with Hayes on much, he’s right on this one,” Foster wrote in a column. He said that “tolerance … requires merely a respectful coexistence governed by a principle of charity, not a commandment to embrace or celebrate. CPAC could perfectly illustrate the difference by inviting GOProud back into the tent.”
WaPo‘s Right Turn blogger Jennifer Rubin called CPAC’s exclusion of GOProud “weak” and backed Hayes in a blog post today.
The conservative site Twitchy called CPAC’s decision to invite Hayes but not GOProud, “stupid.”
It was less than a year ago that Hayes was again highlighted by the conservative media. But back then, it was because he had said on his show that he felt “uncomfortable” referring to all fallen U.S. soldiers as “heroes.” A lot has changed.
We’ve requested comment from the American Conservative Union, which produces CPAC.