A few days ago, MSNBC made it official: The cable station fired Pat Buchanan from his regular gig as a commentator on various programs, including, most usually, Morning Joe. Buchanan made his dismissal public with the following widely reprinted editorial, which he wrote for the website of The American Conservative, the paleo-con magazine where he once served as founding editor. “After 10 enjoyable years,” he wrote, “I am departing, after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous.”
Now all defenders of the First Amendment should be upset if someone is fired because of “clamor from the left.” That would mean the political left-wing has the power to fire someone because he is not an advocate of their side. If one such firing is allowed and overlooked, then someone else whom you approve of but others do not could be next.
So let us look more carefully at Buchanan’s case. Let me state my position on the issue at the beginning, before my analysis. I believe Pat Buchanan is a demagogue, an anti-Semite, as well as a man who holds to a simplistic analysis that others have regularly torn apart over the years. On the issue of his well-discussed anti-Semitism, I give you two sources: First, there is In Search of Anti-Semitism, by William F. Buckley, Jr., which features a reprint of a 1991 article in National Review where the late dean of conservatism reluctantly concluded that Buchanan was indeed an anti-Semite.
The second source are two articles by Joshua Muravchick, this one here, and another one which he later wrote here. At the time, I wrote my own analysis for PJM, and concluded by asking the following question: “Isn’t about time that responsible conservatives stop giving him any credibility?” So, I believe that any network, including MSNBC, should not have hired Buchanan in the first place, given that he is hardly a person who can be considered serious on essential issues.
The other commentary I would cite about him was written by Christopher Hitchens, and may indeed be the single most devastating assault Buchanan ever received. Hitch wrote a review of Buchanan’s book Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War”: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World. Here is Hitch’s penultimate paragraph skewering Buchanan:
As the book develops, Buchanan begins to unmask his true colors more and more. It is one thing to make the case that Germany was ill-used, and German minorities harshly maltreated, as a consequence of the 1914 war of which Germany’s grim emperor was one of the prime instigators. It’s quite another thing to say that the Nazi decision to embark on a Holocaust of European Jewry was “not a cause of the war but an awful consequence of the war.” Not only is Buchanan claiming that Hitler’s fanatical racism did not hugely increase the likelihood of war, but he is also making the insinuation that those who wanted to resist him are the ones who are equally if not indeed mainly responsible for the murder of the Jews!