Free Speech for Conservatives

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Patrick J. Buchanan, who has been a major figure in the conservative movement for over 40 years, was fired from MSNBC after the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) concluded in Washington, D.C. Buchanan was not a featured speaker at CPAC, but his former colleague, Joe Scarborough, was. Scarborough, the co-host of a little-watched MSNBC program “Morning Joe,” is a former Republican congressman who pleases the liberals by making sure he doesn’t sound too conservative on the air. He takes shots at conservatives to make himself palatable to the left.

Many were astounded that Scarborough was the emcee of a major CPAC event. Scarborough’s real mission was to introduce Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin at a banquet sponsored by Newsmax but he couldn’t resist taking shots at GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, such as saying something about a moon base, one of Gingrich’s more controversial proposals. Gingrich, of course, wasn’t there to defend himself; he spoke to this CPAC on another occasion. Conservatives at my table agreed that Scarborough’s cheap shots at Gingrich were in bad taste. I felt bad for Ryan being introduced in such a tawdry manner.

In order to rub salt in the wounds, Scarborough brought along his liberal MSNBC sidekick Mika Brzezinski, who sat at one of the up-front banquet tables. She posed for pictures with a number of young conservatives who must have thought she was a Hollywood starlet of some kind. For his part, Scarborough has posted photos of himself at CPAC, under the title, “Morning Joe Invades CPAC.” The use of the term “invasion” is the correct one. They invaded the conservative space.

All of this is background information for what has happened to Buchanan and his place in the conservative movement. It’s bad enough that he was fired from MSNBC. In fact, he had been “suspended” weeks before the firing became official. While Buchanan’s magazine The American Conservative was at CPAC, Buchanan was not.

Buchanan seems to be considered anathema by some newcomers to the conservative movement, mostly because of his criticism of America’s foreign wars and pro-Israel foreign policy under George W. Bush. One can criticize those stands and his occasional use of inappropriate language on sensitive issues while acknowledging Buchanan’s stature and place in the conservative movement.

An editorial writer at a young age who was trained in journalism, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of U.S. politics. He has written a number of books, some more controversial than others, as a look at the top of his website will attest. He crossed into government service by working for Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and later ran for president himself. At Reagan’s service, Buchanan was a fierce advocate for freedom against communism.

I first met Buchanan while working for Accuracy in Media. AIM founder Reed Irvine admired and respected Buchanan. This was the norm among conservatives who recognized Buchanan as a fighter against liberals in the media and elsewhere. Buchanan asked me to write an article for his newsletter, “Patrick J. Buchanan From the Right,” about the rise of conservative talk radio. I had hosted a radio show in the early 1990s.

While Buchanan was in the Reagan White House as communications director in the 1980s, I had the opportunity to fill in as the conservative co-host of a then-popular CNN program, “Crossfire.” Buchanan had been the conservative co-host and Tom Braden was the liberal co-host. The “crossfire” aspect also included the fact that there were conservative and liberal guests who sat in the middle, getting questions from both sides. I joked that the slogan of the program was, “Don’t talk while I’m interrupting.” I got into trouble with the producers when I asked the Ambassador from Libya to “please shut up” after he insisted at length that Libya was not involved in international terrorism. Nevertheless, the show had a lot of educational value and was great fun. It was advocacy journalism at its best.

The days of “Crossfire” are gone. The show was cancelled and a true “crossfire” on the issues is not permitted any more by some important media organizations which cower in fear when attacked by the left. It is significant that Buchanan has been forced off the air essentially by the same left-wing forces that previously claimed the scalp of Glenn Beck, who departed from Fox News because of his scrutiny of anti-American hedge fund billionaire George Soros. In both cases, the Soros-funded Media Matters and the Van Jones-founded Color of Change played roles in their ouster.

On his Politico blog, Scarborough issued a joint statement with Brzezinski: “Everyone at Morning Joe considers Pat Buchanan to be a friend and a member of the family. Even though we strongly disagree with the contents of Pat’s latest book, Mika and I believe those differences should have been debated in public. An open dialogue with Morning Joe regulars like Al Sharpton and Harold Ford, Jr. could have developed into an important debate on the future of race relations in America. Because we believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant, Mika and I strongly disagree with this outcome. We understand that the parting was amicable. Still, we will miss Pat.”

Amicable? I see no evidence of that. Buchanan told Sean Hannity on his Fox News program that he had been the victim of an un-American blacklisting for his views on racial matters, as expressed in his new book, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?

It is significant that black agitator Al Sharpton, who made false racial allegations against white police officers in the notorious Tawana Brawley case, continues on the air on MSNBC while Buchanan has been let go. This has everything to do with the fact that Sharpton, a “Morning Joe” regular, is a loyal stooge of Obama and a faithful Democrat. It seems he will remain a member of the MSNBC “family” no matter what he says or does.

But to speak up for the interests of what Buchanan would call European-Americans, in terms of defending the Christian foundations of the U.S., is a grievous sin to the liberals. This is what the blacklisting of Buchanan really means. It is telling that Scarborough apparently felt compelled to denounce Buchanan’s views while lamenting his leaving the MSNBC “family.”

Another difference is that the buffoonish Sharpton has the intellectual depth of a saucer, while Buchanan has a deep knowledge of history. Buchanan has the intellectual ammunition to argue and win his arguments. Taking Buchanan to task for some of his comments should not mean conservatives have to fall into the trap of reading him out of the media and the conservative movement.

Conservatives should be able to disagree with his views and conclusions, without using the language of the left to vilify him.

It is disappointing to see Andrew Breitbart’s usually excellent BigJournalism.com linking to an article that calls Buchanan an anti-Semite. The link was to a Pajamas Media article claiming Buchanan was fired for the wrong reason, implying that he should have been fired for a different reason. But firing is not the proper response for someone who was writing conservative editorials at an early age and taking on the liberal media when the writers at Pajamas Media were truly in their pajamas—and diapers. It seems like the Media Matters mentality exists on the right as well.

Sean Hannity is to be commended for giving Buchanan a chance on his Fox News program to defend himself and explain the reasons why he was fired. The trouble for Hannity is that Buchanan followed Glenn Beck out the door, as a result of the same kind of campaign waged by the same forces.

To be fair, Hannity should not condemn one ouster without examining the other. However, we know that he would be risking his job if he seriously investigated on the air why Fox buckled under to pressure from George Soros by getting rid of Beck. This story goes beyond political pressure to threats against Glenn Beck’s personnel, as we have already revealed and documented. The situation at Fox News, which hired feminist commentators Jehmu Greene and Sally Kohn to keep Media Matters at bay, is actually much worse than the sacking of Buchanan.

The bleak media landscape, as the presidential campaign goes forward, shows Fox News moving to the left and MSNBC moving further to the left.

Some viewers have objected to the cancellation of Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show on the Fox Business Network. These complaints should be taken seriously. But his program never had the high ratings that Beck’s show did on the Fox News Channel. What’s more, Napolitano is not completely gone from the channel; he remains as a commentator on Fox News.

As for Joe Scarborough, he realizes that if he goes too far to the right he will meet the same fate as Buchanan. CPAC should repel his “invasion” the next time he tries to breach the gates. A serious conservative when he was elected to Congress, I worked with his staff on a bill to get the U.S. out of the United Nations. But today he is just a “token conservative” who isn’t that conservative at a cable channel that doesn’t believe in free speech and true diversity.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.


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