On the first day of this year's CPAC conference, most of the talk surrounding the event is about who isn't there, but for one far-right influencer, the conservative conference serves as a way to boost her hateful profile and line her pockets.
Chaya Raichik, the former Brooklyn real estate agent turned full-time internet troll who has built up a significant following online through her targeted harassment of LGBTQ+ people and children's hospitals,appeared at one of the conference's premier outrage panels aimed at "owning the libs" called "Don Lemon Is Past His Primetime."
The chairman of the American Conservative Union, which runs the annual CPAC event, Matt Schlapp (who has been accused of sexually assaulting another man), opened the dayslong event by appearing onstage with Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan to complain about Democrats infringing upon Republicans' First Amendment rights.
The event is held annually at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center near Washington, D.C.
After their remarks, the day's panels began.
Conservative columnist Kurt Schlichter and far-right activist and founder of the right-wing Media Research Center L. Brent Bozell III joined Raichik onstage. Conservative radio host Larry O'Connor moderated the conversation.
The disjointed Thursday morning discussion featured mainly the men griping about perceived slights they felt CNN and other media organizations have done to silence conservative voices. Occasionally they would pause to ask Raichik about the number of followers she had on Twitter and details about her schtick.
The conversation started with an inappropriate and cringe-inducing misogynistic back-and-forth among the men on the panel about Hillary Clinton, her husband, the former president, and cigars that is not fit to print. Then, in an attempt at a joke but indicative of the collective ignorance on display at CPAC toward the LGBTQ+ community, Bozell said, "Well, first of all, I want to say I identify as he, we," and paused for laughter.
"If I ever transition, I want to be Chaya," he said, expecting the crowd to guffaw.
O'Connor then got up, walked over to Bozell, and handed him some cash, saying, "Hold on a second. I'm sorry. I lost the bet on that one. I apologize. I thought something else was going on there with the transitioning Brent."
Befuddled, Raichik asks, "What?" but receives no response.
"No, can you just explain what happened there?" she asked, but the other panelists ignored her.
"Well, I respect Kurt that he identifies as a they," O'Connor finally says before turning to Raichik, "I'll tell you later."
The conversation continued, again mainly among the men, with an occasional nod toward Raichik. "Meanwhile, talking about canceling people and the media attacking individuals, Chaya, what a hero," O'Connor pivoted, gesturing in Raichik's direction. "The incredible, courageous creator of Libs of TikTok where you dare to actually let them use their own words without any commentary to say, 'Hey, look what they said.' And even today, you got attacked for sitting on this stage."
Raichik often feigns ignorance when her tweets and attention result in acts of violence or intimidation toward the people or places she highlights to her rabid followers, claiming that all she does is repost videos.
Raichik took the softball and swung.
"So yesterday, Vice put out this insane hit piece on me," she said. "I mean, I think they thought it was a hit piece. To me, it looked like a very impressive resume."
Wednesday, Vice published an article describing Raichik's rise to fame over the last year and how she targets vulnerable communities with the attention she knows can result in her supporters resorting to violence.
"Their captions on Twitter and in the article, they were so mad that I'm at CPAC today," Raichik claimed. "So it's especially great to be here because those who have been following me for a while probably know by now there's nothing I love more than to mock and clown the liberal media. They deserve every bit of it."
Raichik regularly engages in name-calling and bullying online but casts the press as the ones who act in bad faith.
"[T]he thing with the leftist media is that the weapon that they use to silence their opponents or critics — one of their strongest weapons — is name calling, insulting, bullying, using slurs. I mean, we see this all the time in the media. And I've been called every single slur in the book. They even made up a new slur just for me called stochastic terrorist. I'm still not sure what it means," she said.
On Thursday, Raichik complained that while she had tried to keep a low profile as an anonymous Twitter user when the Washington Post's Taylor Lorenz published a story last year that identified Raichik as the purveyor of the account that security experts say engages in stochastic terrorism tactics or knowingly engaging in messaging that one can reasonably foresee inspiring somebody to engage in an unpredictable act of violence.
Toward the end of the shorter than 30-minute conversation, the host got to what appears to be the reason for Raichik's appearance — to sell her book.
"So here's what you need to know. Nobody makes money with a Twitter account," O'Connor proclaims. "She's been able to change this country and change the conversation in this nation because of what she was able to do. They tried to destroy her. Chaya is now the author of a brand-new children's book.".
Raichik, who is neither an educator, journalist, nor youth wellbeing expert, claims that her book No More Secrets is a tool for kids and parents to learn about spotting predatory behavior among adults in positions of trust.
After getting the audience to chant the name of Raichik's book, O'Connor laid it on thick.
"Also, I would be remiss sitting next to somebody with 1.9 million Twitter followers if I didn't ask her to take a selfie with all of you in it," he said. "So let's do it. Come on. Come on, guys."
The panel concluded with Raichik, and the men turned to the audience, taking a photo.
The surreal nature of the appearance was noticed by people who saw the production.
"Chaya Raichik mocking Taylor Lorenz for speaking to an empty room versus Chaya Raichik speaking to an empty room at CPAC. Turns out that bots don't attend conferences," Harvard Law instructor Alejandra Caraballo tweeted.