When conservative pundit Pat Buchanan was fired from MSNBC this month over controversial racial remarks in his latest book Suicide of a Superpower, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement that the long-time conservative commentator's views "aren't really appropriate for national dialogue, much less the dialogue on MSNBC." This is not the first time MSNBC has publicly determined what constitutes appropriate dialogue for the nation and their station.
In July, MSNBC fired Cenk Uygur, the former host of MSNBC Live. According to Uygur, there were some complaints about his harsh criticism of Obama. Uygur said Griffin told him personally that "we are insiders. We are part of the establishment. Washington is concerned with your tone." Upon hearing this, Uygur says he thought, "Are we in a movie? Is this for real?" Uygur's replacement was the Rev. Al Sharpton. Unlike Buchanan, Sharpton's history of controversial racial remarks were apparently more MSNBC-friendly.
Commenting on Buchanan's firing, The American Spectator's James Antle writes: "Remaining on the network is Al Sharpton, whose denunciations of 'white interlopers' and 'diamond merchants' helped provoke violence against Freddy's Fashion Mart and the Jewish communities of Crown Heights. You will search Buchanan's oeuvre in vain for anything approaching Sharpton at his most hateful."
So there you have it. Uygur's harsh criticism of Obama is out, but Sharpton's ass kissing of Obama is in. Somehow Buchanan's racial insensitivity is beyond the pale, but the reverend's race hatred is more than acceptable.
That Buchanan made controversial comments about race in his new book is true. How do we know this? Because his comments created controversy. But Buchanan's book is also a New York Times bestseller. Whatever one thinks of his comments, namely that white America and Western Civilization are on their last legs, they are already part of the national dialogue whether MSNBC likes it or not.
And this remains true whether liberal-minded organizations like Media Matters or Color of Change like it or not. The idea of private news outlets determining what views or opinions are acceptable or unacceptable on their TV stations and websites or in print is fine. That's how free markets work. The idea of activist groups championing or denouncing certain views is fine. That's how freedom works. But the idea that news outlets should work with the Washington establishment to enforce political orthodoxy is not fine. In fact, it raises serious questions about the offending news organization's journalistic ethics. It also raises serious questions about how free our speech really is.
The idea that pressure groups like Media Matters or Color of Change can work in conjunction with the media establishment to define permissible dissent isn't acceptable either. When a pundit of Buchanan's stature says things others don't think should be said, this is precisely when journalists should value the principle of free speech the most. Many journalists have denounced Buchanan's firing for precisely this reason. When Uygur was saying things that made the establishment uncomfortable, he was performing a journalist's primary function. And yet he was punished for it.
If anyone thinks Buchanan is truly a racist, then let him be sunk by his own words and not by threats from Media Matters or Color of Change. Just who do these people think they are anyway? Buchanan fully realizes his firing is about far more than him. As he told the Daily Caller, "What concerns me more than what happens to me [is that] you can really damage and cripple [the] careers of young people who are really not well known ... I'm much more concerned in the future about this idea of smearing and then stigmatizing and silencing and censoring and blacklisting people because of their opinions, because of their views."
Those with the courage of their convictions do not find it necessary to bully others with opposing views. Media Matters' ultimate goal seems to be to create a media that doesn't matter, and the Color of Change is apparently yellow.
Firing Pat Buchanan didn't take journalistic courage, but revealed the media establishment's cowardice. America is better than this even if MSNBC is not.
Jack Hunter assisted Sen. Jim DeMint with his latest book, Now or Never: Saving America From Economic Collapse. He is also the official campaign blogger for GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, and he co-wrote Rand Paul's The Tea Party Goes to Washington. You can hear Southern Avenger commentaries on The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd on 1250 WTMA.