Pat Buchanan's Fall: The "BlackListers" Speak!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 17 2012 3:32 PM

Pat Buchanan's Fall: The "BlackListers" Speak!

Pat Buchanan broke the news in his own way, posting an op-ed length rant on the American Conservative's web site. He was "blacklisted, but not beaten." His contract with MSNBC had ended.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

"The calls for my firing began almost immediately with the Oct. 18 publication of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" he wrote." A group called Color of Change, whose mission statement says that it 'exists to strengthen Black America’s political voice,' claimed that my book espouses a 'white supremacist ideology.'" They had smeared him. "They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats, and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight."

Advertisement

It was an odd critique of Color of Change; yes, they hold meetings, but their campaign was all done in public. I called them up to ask what they made of Buchanan's final epistle. (Full disclosure: I am a political contributor to MSNBC and have been since the summer of 2010.)

"There was nothing private about our campaign," says Rashad Robinson, executive director of CFC. "We believe a fair and inclusive media is critical to democracy, and that there's nothing more american than everyday people raising voices against intolerance. "at buchanan can continue saying what he wants to say on any street corner. He can say, as he's said before, that slavery was good for black people because it made us Christians. But just like Americans all around the country can't go around, go to the workplace, and say things like that, Pat Buchanan can't go around, say that, and keep his job. Pat Buchanan is not above everyday Americans."

I asked Robinson if this actually proved the ex-pundit's point. It was good that some opinions could cost people their jobs?

"Freedom is speech is not freedom from the consequences of speech," he said. "If there are no consequences for what you say -- I mean, Pat Buchanan operates in the world of politics, in his own campaigns he's spoken out against all sorts of people over the years. The idea that he can announce that he's going on a white supremacist show and not be held accountable is ludicrous. His essay seems like the final testament by a person whose outdated opinions have been silenced by everyday people who felt that they no longer had to put up with it."

But the Color of Change campaign mostly focused on statements Buchanan had made off the air. What was the harm of having him on TV?

"MSNBC, by giving him a platform, was validating who he is," said Robinson. "They weren't having him on TV every day because he was a good cook, or the best teacher of economics at the University of Chicago. By paying him to contribute, they were validating who he was in the political landscape."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.