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To Defeat A Goliath, David Brat Got Help In Conservative Media


In trying to reconstruct how Congressman Cantor was defeated, another partial explanation surfaced in the media. Perhaps, it was the media. Here's NPR's media correspondent, David Folkenflik.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: David Brat had a pretty clear idea of at least one of the keys to his victory. He identified it this morning on "The Laura Ingraham Show."


LAURA INGRAHAM: Hey Dave, how are you?

DAVID BRAT: Hey Laura. Hey I'm doing great. You're hero down here for leading the charge, and it's great to be on with you.

FOLKENFLIK: That's right, Ingraham herself. The conservative talk show host has been a relentless champion of Brat and a tireless critic of Eric Cantor, especially on immigration.


INGRAHAM: I just got the sense that people are, like, fed up with the Republican Party, especially Cantor, that spent so much of his political capital in the last - really, year and a half - pushing this immigration reform issue. He was pushing it and pushing it and pushing it, and the people are like, well what are you going to do for me? What about my flat-lining wages?

FOLKENFLIK: Her championing was not limited to her appearances on the air and on her blog, however. Just last Tuesday, Ingraham was the guest of honor at a rally for Brat.

INGRAHAM: I kind of wish, thinking about this, that President Obama would have thought this through a little bit more...

FOLKENFLIK: Here, Ingraham referred to the recent swap of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay for an American prisoner of war.

INGRAHAM: Instead of sending, like, five Taliban MVPs over there, he could have just traded one Eric Cantor.

FOLKENFLIK: It's hard to assign specific causes in a primary race with so few votes cast, but conservative radio hosts and pundits such as Ann Coulter and Mark Levin also weighed in. And Matt Drudge and Breitbart News served up a steady diet of related stories like this one.


MEGYN KELLY: A massive surge of illegal immigrants is underway right now, and we do mean massive.

FOLKENFLIK: That's Megyn Kelly on Fox News's "Kelly Files" on Monday night, the evening before the election. Just eight minutes after the polls closed last night, The Washington Post's Jim Tankersley tweeted, when does Mickey Kaus take his victory lap? Kaus is a California-based blogger for the conservative Daily Caller. I caught up to Kaus this afternoon.

MICKEY KAUS: Right now I'm in Richmond, Virginia - actually in Cantor's district in Glen Allen, which - it's a sprawling district to the north of Richmond.

FOLKENFLIK: Kaus has been obsessive - his word - in opposing the relaxation of immigration laws. He says about 80 percent of his blog posts for the past six months have been about illegal immigration and many hundreds of his tweets, too.

KAUS: I didn't think Brat was going to win, but I wanted to be at the party, and I wanted to talk to the people on his staff. I was hoping he would beat 40 percent, and he went ahead and won. It was a very happy evening last night.

FOLKENFLIK: When journalists for most mainstream news organizations openly support candidates, it tends to make waves and headlines. That holds even for opinion hosts on MSNBC and Fox News. Kaus told his readers he had sent Brat a campaign contribution.

KAUS: You know, better blatant than latent. The old model is breaking down with the rise of talk radio and cable. And it's only, I think, a matter of time before the breakthrough that, well, you know, do these hosts actually contribute money to their causes - that that line is breached, too.

FOLKENFLIK: Kaus argues that the election would not have come out differently by differently by a single vote, had he not been involved, but that he's doing what he can. For Brat, the media was a key pillar in his primary success. On Ingraham's show today, he praised supporters and volunteers for putting in 12 hour days and then returned to a familiar figure.


BRAT: So can't thank them enough, and I can't thank you enough either, Laura, for your courageous leadership. I mean it - no one saw it coming, right? And you said, we're doing 'cause it's the right thing to do and stood up when all the odds-makers said no way. And there was a way, and it happened. So thank you so much for your courageous leadership.

INGRAHAM: Absolutely David...

FOLKENFLIK: And of course, the Democrats are already trying to cash in, invoking conservative pundits as they seek to raise money to defeat Brat in November. David Folkenflik, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.
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