Dissents Of The Day

The in-tray has been flooded with readers upset with me for defending Pat Buchanan as balance on MSNBC:

The liberal groups that "hounded" Buchanan from MSNBC have the same rights to express their views as he has to express his. I fail to see why the ADL and Human Rights Campaign are worthy only of being ignored, while Buchanan should continue to be given the opportunity to spout his repellent views on a major cable political talk show.

If only the ADL and HRC were ignored by the media. But one can hope. Another reader:

Why am I supposed to care that Pat Buchanan is "a compassionate and decent man in private"? Whoopdee-fucking-doo. Is the general public supposed to evaluate a pundit based on his manners in the green room or at DC cocktail parties?

I'm so glad he wrote you a kind note while he was whipping up homophobia with the best of them back when he commanded a huge national following. While you are certainly not the most egregious offender, it's pretty sickening listening to the DC villagers telling the great unwashed that we're supposed to grant Buchanan points for compassion, when all we ever see of him is a complete asshole on-air. Buchanan is the kind of pundit who gives intellectual cover to the most hateful elements in our society.

I can think of countless more assholes on the air – such as Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton and Dick Morris – who give cover to hatred without a scintilla of Buchanan's intellectual honesty. Another:

Did you really just write, "However repellent some of his views, he is intellectually honest. Yes, publicly bigoted, sometimes outrageous, a flame-thrower, a reactionary who flirted at times with what only can be called neo-fascism" – and then declare that MSNBC was wrong to fire him as a paid contributor? If you want to argue that people who spout such repellent nonsense should be encouraged to air their views on TV from time to time so that they can be publicly demolished, go right ahead. But to argue that MSNBC has, in order to maintain ANY journalistic integrity in your view, to retain and compensate such a malevolent bigoted clown is beyond absurd.

My point is about whether we can have a cable news channel capable of employing genuinely smart and talented guests or contributors whose views go against the grain of Fox's or MSNBC's propaganda machinery. I couldn't have made my views about Buchanan's opinions more clearly. But compared with, say, Hannity – who is a pure propagandist with as deep a grasp of political history as Todd Palin? Another reader points to Pat's infamous "Back into your closets, boys" piece. Yes, it is not news to me that Pat Buchanan has said bigoted vicious things about gays, Jews, gay Jews, immigrants, African-Americans, and on and on. Another:

I come back to this column of Buchanan's, in response to the Virginia Tech massacre. He blames that massacre, along with much of the rest of late 20th century crime, on the 1965 Immigration Act, and on immigrants and diversity more generally. Even if we leave aside the truly outrageous and grotesque statements from his career (ie, the Hitler apologies) as somehow outliers, this column, which is not at all atypical, connects hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Americans directly to a horrible and tragic crime. Granted, my in-laws, who came to America from Taiwan after 1965, are among them, but I'm damn sure I'd be just as disgusted if I had no such personal connection.

Another links to "His 10 Most Outrageous Statements". You know what I despise about part of contemporary liberalism? Its self-righteous reduction of all of human life and personality and complexity to where someone is a sinner against group discrimination – or not. People are complicated. Complication and diversity of opinion, if backed up by knowledge, fact and a sense of humor are what make good TV. Watching rare actual debate between intellectual equals is slowly being removed from cable news altogether. Dispatching this old bigot does not make that any better. Replacing him with a muppet is not an answer.