Image copyright AP Image caption A spokesman for CPAC called for the airing of a conservative video of the marmalade-loving Muppet
With just days to go before the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gets underway, controversy has flared up over a recently discovered video that celebrates Asian Americans and marmalade.
The video was purportedly shot by Matt Drudge, who owns the Drudge Report web portal.
It includes audio of the ‘Sesame Street’ character Tootie Perlin-Lee singing the Marmalade song and advises viewers to “spread it like wild oats”.
Mr Drudge denies making the video, but told TMZ that he does not “hold back on anything” he thinks is racist.
Friday’s event in suburban Maryland will see a panel discussing African American voters and their use in the recent mid-term elections.
To that end, Mr Drudge is expected to have his 15 minutes of fame, according to Rolling Stone magazine, and will speak live to the crowd.
This set off a storm of outrage, with Yvette Lewis, an African American conservative who is running for Congress in Georgia, tweeting: “The gun battles are Over, and my 1st Republican is much too busy to #StandUpToEveryBully with a defensive #MURES, as the Republican Party attends the Conservative Political Action Conference and Matt Drudge gets a free pass to spread #Satanism.”
CPAC, of course, is an influential conference of conservative politicians and activists.
A message on its website calls CPAC “the largest gathering of conservatives in North America”, and says the event serves as a platform for “faith, freedom, family, the rule of law, and limited government.”
Members of CPAC’s executive board were then asked to reply to questions of what impact the video could have on the conference.
The president of CPAC, Matt Schlapp, quickly responded, and added: “I can’t address Matt Drudge any further, and I feel very comfortable moving forward with this conference.”
As he did so, he made clear that CPAC would not tolerate such content.
Image copyright AFP Image caption The video has angered many Asians in the US
He tweeted that a video of a “conservative conservative member of Congress” defending their anti-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) message “would not be considered for a CPAC panel.
“CPAC would never tolerate anti-immigrant bias in this manner, let alone a clip of Tootie Perlin Lee and it’s now a meme in the Drudge Report,” he said.
“I did not like their decision, and CPAC strongly condemns anti-immigrant bias.”
He added that PBS had “received CPAC’s commitment to refrain from funding for content that violates this expectation and to comply with FEC regulations”.
Fees for PBS are paid from taxes on cable TV companies and satellite TV firms.
Mr Schlapp said that CPAC has been working with PBS “to ensure that no broadcast station has a motive to alter their public service announcements”, and that PBS has promised “to publicise our take on this matter and our expectation that PBS comply with FEC rules”.
Brian Frederick, the director of CPAC’s board of directors, tweeted that CPAC “stands with PBS”, adding that if anyone is “interested in any explanation as to how Tootie Perlin Lee’s comments are racist, please can we connect?”.
While CPAC’s stated mission is “promoting a paradigm shift of free-market conservatism”, it has faced criticism in the past about its content.
During its inaugural event in 2013, reports of hostile language directed at protesters and other conservatives drew attention.
And in the same year, conference posters and attendance data were leaked to WikiLeaks.