Posted Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, at 3:32 PM
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.
"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."
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 His essay seems like the final testament by a person whose outdated opinions have been silenced by everyday people who felt that they no longer had to put up with it."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."