As for MSNBC, they have added to their line-up the repulsive and largely simplistic Rev. Al Sharpton, whose comments and campaigns over the years have reeked of anti-Semitism, demagoguery (remember the Tawana Brawley affair?), and worse. Recall that isolation of Sharpton during the 2008 Obama campaign, when candidate Obama went out of his way to keep away from the revered, who, if anything, might have reminded the public of Obama’s mentor Jeremiah Wright, who, after the videos of his sermons surfaced, was also sent out to the pasture. And if you want to bring up Rev. Sharpton’s past actions and protest his being hired — guess what? You will not get too far.
So now to my conclusion. And it is not one you will suspect from me. Having made the mistake of first hiring Pat Buchanan, I believe that MSNBC had no good cause to fire him. I do not go so far as Andrew Sullivan, who argues that Buchanan is a “paragon of intellectual integrity” compared to Sharpton and Ed Schultz, and who acknowledges that he is “publicly bigoted, sometimes outrageous, a flame-thrower, a reactionary who flirted at times with what only can be called neo-fascism,” but should be honored because at the same time he is “true to his own ideas and a gifted writer.”
If that is the criterion for being on MSNBC or any other network, almost anyone who writes and believes his own myths should have a program. The point is that MSNBC got rid of him at a moment of rising right-wing populism, and perhaps, I suspect, they feared Buchanan would see the likes of Ron Paul quite favorably, and would lend his support to the type of candidate they least appreciate. I suspect — and yes, these are hunches only — that the NBC brass did not want further trouble from minority pressure groups as Buchanan appeared to them as a TV stand-in for retrograde politics from the far-Right populists.
Sullivan also writes that Buchanan “is also a compassionate and decent man in private and an honest intellectual in public.” Sullivan likes him because he sees him as a person with whom he could debate reasonably and because, when it was announced Sullivan was HIV positive, he sent him a warm and lovely note that he would pray for him recovering his health, despite his own well-known position on gay issues. What Sullivan does not mention, one must note, is his own agreement with Buchanan on foreign policy issues, particularly the idea that the Israel lobby is largely responsible for pressuring our country into a wrong-headed war in Iraq. This is a strange omission given how easy it is to find resemblances between Buchanan and Sullivan’s own comments on the Iraq war and who bears responsibility.
But yes, my own limited contact with Buchanan reveals him to be charming, polite, and cordial. He believes what he says, and on a personal level, he never has been hostile or nasty when I have had the chance to speak with him.
So, anyone who believes in civil liberties, and welcomes debate with those with whom you believe are seriously wrong on major issues, should not be happy at Buchanan’s dismissal. First they came for Buchanan, as the old saying goes cribbed from Pastor Martin Niemoller, and next they will come for Joe Scarborough. Before you know it, Scarborough will be gone, and Christopher Hayes of The Nation, who now has the weekend slot, will replace Scarborough on the weekdays. MSNBC will then be the all far-Left network — being far less in the mainstream than Fox News is on the other side of the spectrum.
See also at PJ Tatler: The Dance of the Lemons and MSNBC Fires Antisemitic Contributor for the Wrong Reason