Jonah Goldberg Cruises Off to CNN

AP Photo/Ron Harris

Former National Review editor, The Dispatch co-founder, and NeverTrumper Jonah Goldberg is joining the thinning ranks of CNN, according to a report earlier this week in Variety.

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I believe this is known as “shaking hands with Jeffrey Toobin.”

The entertainment paper says that Goldberg “will appear on CNN programs as news networks gear up for the 2022 midterm elections” starting on March 1.

Goldberg left his post at Fox News (along with Dispatch cofounder Steven Hayes) last November in a principled huff, we’re assured, over Tucker Carlson’s “Patriot Purge” broadcast.

We’ve seen this act before. Goldberg will likely fall into the role of the “concerned conservative” at a far-left network, earning his keep by crapping on conservatives.

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He’s already taking heat.

This tweet from the Washington Examiner’s Harry Khachatrian, for example:

Newsmax’s Emerald Robinson recounted this story:

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A prominent Washington think tank expert once told me a remarkable anecdote about Goldberg and Stephen Hayes back in 2016. While Trump was busy beating Hillary Clinton, these two magazine editors were busy sending out dinner invitations to other conservatives to inform them that any pro-Trump journalists who came to town would be targeted and drummed out of the business. Their self-appointed mission, in other words, was to police conservatives. Goldberg was still at the National Review, and Hayes was running the Weekly Standard — and both of them believed that they controlled conservative journalism in America.

Things didn’t quite work out that way.

The rest of this column I write more in sorrow than in anger.

I don’t know Jonah well, but for years he was one of my favorite reads. His highbrow/lowbrow mix of conservative philosophy (he’s very well-read) peppered with amusing pop culture references (he somehow found time to watch a lot of TV) always made for an enjoyable column. Yes, even when we disagreed.

We joked around on Twitter fairly regularly and we’d had drinks together at a couple of conferences. It’s probably been close to a decade since we last met in real life, but I always liked the guy.

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Jonah has written three books, and 2.67 of them are quite good.

His most recent one, 2018’s Suicide of the West, started off strong, digging into “the Miracle” that birthed the free, modern world in Britain, the U.S., and the Netherlands.

But Goldberg’s work fell off rapidly in the last third, devolving into a dreary litany of complaints that mean people on Twitter — I presume many or most of them were just bots — are ruining Western Civilization.

I exaggerate but not by much. SOTW became a pointless read so quickly that I’d finished the thing before I could quite understand what went wrong.

Jonah, as much as I liked him, seemed to fall for the common mistake of thinking that Twitter is or even represents the real world. Also, as both the product of a privileged upbringing and of a philosophical education, he seems blind to an important and ongoing change in this country.

We need — and we’re getting — a much more broadly based conservative movement.

We’re way past just the blue bloods and the think tanks and the establishment types. They were able to birth the modern movement — starting, yes, with National Review in the 1950s — but the movement had been stalled, at best, since Ronald Reagan left office.

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The new movement includes Tea Partiers, truck drivers, the red-pilled, “blood & soil” nationalists, displaced blue-collar guys, and more.

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It’s big. It’s new. It’s sometimes awkward, ill-mannered, and even angry. Those people don’t go to the right cocktail parties or on the correct cruises. But as we saw from 2017 until the pandemic, this broader-based conservatism was a helluva lot more effective than anything the National Review-types had accomplished in decades, and more than The Dispatch will accomplish, ever.

It took me a while to get used to it, to embrace it, but here I am.

Whatever Jonah’s apparent distaste for those sometimes (delightfully!) unruly newcomers and usurpers, it got the better of him.

It feels like we lost Jonah to Twitter — and his own pretensions — long before we lost him to CNN.

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