Representative Mike Pence, a fourth-term Republican, delivers his speech with the cadence of a southern minister. “Over and over the media tells us America is tired of the war. Yes, America is tired. It’s tired of what we’re being told about this war,” he says, his voice rising and his face tightening. “It’s tired of the incessant negativity. Tired of the constant coverage of every road-side bomb while excluding the mention of every courageous, brave, and productive act. . . .” The audience of several hundred prominent conservatives explodes with applause. “The media and the Democrats may be tired of this war,” Pence continues as he begins to pound the podium, “but America is not tired of this cause.”

Congressman Pence, a charismatic and influential conservative leader from Indiana, is the keynote speaker at the Ronald Reagan Banquet, a formal dinner on the second night of the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. More than a dozen speakers, among them Ann Coulter, Representative James Sensenbrenner, Grover Norquist, and Oliver North, have spoken, and aside from the Democratic Party, nothing has been the subject of more criticism than the media. “Now I know there are a few here from the mainstream media and they’re probably surprised that we’re here in these record numbers,” said Mitt Romney in the opening lines of his afternoon speech. “ ‘Course they wrote our obituary last fall. . . . The truth is that their wishful-thinking reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, I predict that we’ll be around a lot longer than, say, the newspapers will be around.”

Conservatives these days are generally not considered champions of the national press, but a little more than two years ago, after reading an editorial in The New York Times about Judith Miller’s jailing and the...

Complete access to this article will soon be available for purchase. Subscribers will be able to access this article, and the rest of CJR’s magazine archive, for free. Select articles from the last 6 months will remain free for all visitors to