THE COMPANY THEY KEEP…. In D.C. this afternoon, the Faith and Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing will wrap up its second day, giving a boost to its organizer, Ralph Reed. CNN reported on the man who brought the right-wing event together.

He’s the former head of the Christian Coalition and now the head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. He organized the conference to bring high-powered conservatives to address the conference to help mobilize faith voters. […]

Reed is seen here as an important messenger of that vision and the crowd embraced him with rousing applause when he welcomed them. He told the group here his motivation for starting the new coalition came after watching the 2008 election unfold. […] Not long after the 2008 election Reed says he got a call from radio and television host Sean Hannity who implored Reed to get back in the political game and organize social conservatives as he once had with the Christian Coalition.

Reed said his new coalition is gaining 1,000 new members a day.

It’s hard to believe, but CNN’s report made absolutely no mention of why Reed was driven from polite society in the first place — he was a disgraced Republican lobbyist at the heart of the Abramoff lobbying scandal. The man was a pariah after having been exposed as a near-criminal.

But apparently, all is forgiven because … time elapsed. The media no longer even feels inclined to mention what made Reed scandalous, and Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMint, Mike Huckabee, Romney, Rick Santorum, a Republican governor, five Republican congressmen, and five Republican congressional candidates have no qualms cozying up to the humiliated right-wing hatchetman.

It’s a reminder that there is literally nothing a conservative can do to be driven from public life.

On a related note, also realize that Rove, Gingrich, and their ilk are not only cozying up to a disgraced former lobbyist, they’re also sharing a stage with a notorious bigot: Bryan Fischer.

[This is the same Fischer] who has declared that all Muslims should be banned from serving in the military, that all Muslim noncitizens must be deported and all Muslim citizens must be stripped of their U.S. citizenship and expelled from the country, that the construction of mosques in the United States must be completely banned, and that all the soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan have died in vain because the U.S. did not convert those countries to Christianity? […]

So it is worth asking why, if leaders like Gingrich, McDonnell, and Huckabee wouldn’t be caught anywhere near the likes of an anti-Muslim bigot like Terry Jones, they are so willing to share the stage with one like Bryan Fischer?

It’s tempting to wonder what the media reaction would be if prominent Democratic leaders and officials attended a disgraced lobbyist’s event and shared a stage with a notorious bigot, but there are no liberal equivalents to guys like Reed and Fischer.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.