Jonathan Krohn was confronted by several young conservatives at CPAC 2013, according to Yahoo! News. Krohn was once a young conservative celebrity, but has since renounced his previous views, taking what he calls says is a more independent stance. Several activists cornered Krohn, who was there as a journalist to cover the event. The author of the Yahoo! News article specifically mentions Katie Pavlich and Brandon Darby, who are conservative activists and known for their tough approach. Leah Sargent was also quoted in the article.1 The Yahoo! News account has been largely dismissed as exaggerated by conservative bloggers, many of whom were eye-witnesses. Apparently there is video of the event.
Look, there’s a danger of placing anyone on a pedestal who’s not ready or hasn’t been vetted for the position. The pressure of being in the spotlight causes many to burn out or burn up, while others turn out to be mere pretenders. I could go on and on about the Hollywood, Nashville and Washington celebrities who’ve imploded or turned out to be less than they appeared, but it’s common enough that I don’t need to go into it.
This seems an especially pervasive phenomenon among child stars. Thrust into the spotlight at a young age they are left to whither in darkness whenever the light passes to the next new phenom that our attention deficit society affixes its sights upon. So many end up bankrupt—fiscally, morally or both—that it seems almost an axiom that child stars end up as train wrecks in their adult lives.
So to me it seems unremarkable that Jonathan Krohn, who at the age of thirteen was the star of the conservative movement, has turned his back on it for what he describes as an independent viewpoint. Krohn, who now writes for the left-leaning Salon.com, is perceived by many as a turncoat, no different than Patriots viewed Benedict Arnold after his defection to the British. To be fair, comparing Krohn with the likes of Lindsay Lohan (or even Arnold) is quite a stretch; he is after all not a train wreck or a traitor, but rather has renounced his previous political views. I’m merely trying to illustrate a point.
The pressing issue in this event is one of optics: A left-leaning individual was cornered by conservative activists and verbally attacked. Unfortunately, most of the media views such behavior from the Left with indifference, but is quick to attack it from the Right. Such is the case here. The fact of the matter is that people who are seen as betraying a “side” in nearly any issue will always generate scorn and derision from the side they left behind. Brandon Darby in particular knows this well, as the Progressive Left has attacked him mercilessly over the past few years. The media refuses to report how Brandon is attacked daily, but quickly reported this singular incident with Jonathan Krohn.
By writing this I’m not criticizing Katie, Brandon, Leah or any of the other activists that day. I don’t think what they did was even wrong. I hope I will never corner someone with whom I disagreed politically and get into a shouting match with them, but there’s no way I can say it wouldn’t happen if the circumstances were right. Questioning someone like Krohn when he shows up to an even like CPAC is the job of bloggers and mainstream journalists alike. There’s no fault to be found here from an impartial analysis.
Rather, I’m admonishing everyone in the conservative movement: The media isn’t on our side. It’s not fair. It doesn’t matter how many times we’re accosted, cornered and verbally (even physically) attacked by the Left, or how much graphic evidence we have of those attacks. The main stream media will not report it, but they’ll fall all over themselves to report that a few young conservatives got into a shouting match with someone who turned coat. When their passions run high, it’s a non-event. When it’s one or a group of us, it’s a story. Period.
It’s a sad state of affairs that we have to think about what the media will report about confronting someone like Jonathan Krohn, who’s “reporting” was clearly meant by someone, either himself or his employer or both, to be provocative. His presence was unwelcome and clearly he wasn’t there merely to report. It’s just one more thing well-known (and not-so-well-known) conservative activists have to think about.
1 Full disclosure: I have met each of the named conservative activists in person. I met Brandon Darby last summer at the RedState Gathering and was able to speak with him extensively in a mixed group casual setting. I found him to be generally laid-back and a genuinely nice guy, but also passionate. I briefly spoke to both Katie Pavlich and Leah Sargent for the first time at CPAC last week; my interaction with Leah was much more extensive but still limited. I follow all three on Twitter and through their writing. I like all of them. I have never met and was largely unaware of Mr. Krohn when he took the stage in 2009. Take my opinions of character for what they’re worth.