The Color of Change is Yellow
When Pat Buchanan was fired from MSNBC last week over controversial racial remarks in his latest book, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement that Buchanan’s views “aren’t really appropriate for national dialogue, much less the dialogue on MSNBC…”
This is not the first time MSNBC has publicly determined what constitutes appropriate dialogue for the nation and their station.
In July, MSNBC fired their afternoon host Cenk Uyger. According to Uyger, there were some complaints about his harsh criticism of Obama. Uyger said Griffin told him personally “We are insiders. We are part of the establishment. Washington is concerned with your tone…” Uygur replied: “I thought: ‘Are we in a movie? Is this for real?” he said.
Uyger’s replacement was the Reverend Al Sharpton, who it was reported had promised in his pre-interview with MSNBC that he would not criticize President Obama. Unlike Buchanan, Sharpton’s controversial racial remarks were apparently more MSNBC-friendly. Commenting on Buchanan’s firing, The American Spectator’s James Antle writes:
Remaining on the network is Al Sharpton, whose denunciations of “white interlopers” and “diamond merchants” helped provoke violence against Freddy’s Fashion Mart and the Jewish communities of Crown Heights. You will search Buchanan’s oeuvre in vain for anything approaching Sharpton at his most hateful.
So there you have it. Uyger’s harsh criticism of Obama is out, but Sharpton’s ass kissing is in. Buchanan’s racial insensitivity is beyond the pale, but Sharpton’s straight up race hatred is above the fray.
That Buchanan made controversial comments about race in his new book is true. How do we know this? Because his comments created controversy. But Buchanan’s book is also a New York Times bestseller. Whatever one thinks of these comments, they are already part of the national dialogue whether MSNBC likes it or not.
And this remains true whether Media Matters or Color of Change like it or not. The idea of private news outlets determining what views or opinions are acceptable or unacceptable is fine. That’s how free markets work. The idea of activist groups championing or denouncing certain views is fine. That’s how freedom works.
But the idea that news outlets should work loosely with the Washington establishment to enforce political orthodoxy is not fine. In fact, it raises serious questions about journalistic ethics. It also raises serious questions about how free our speech really is.
The idea that pressure groups like Media Matters or Color of Change can work in conjunction with the media establishment to define permissible dissent isn’t fine either.
When a pundit of Buchanan’s stature says things others don’t think should be said—this is precisely when journalists should value the principle of free speech the most. Many journalists have denounced Buchanan’s firing for precisely this reason. When Uyger was saying things that made the establishment uncomfortable—he was performing journalists’ primary function. And yet, he was punished for it.
If anyone thinks Buchanan is truly a racist then let him sink himself with his own words, not warnings from Media Matters or Color of Change. Who in the hell do these people think they are anyway? Buchanan fully realizes his firing is about far more than him, or as he told The Daily Caller: “What concerns me more than what happens to me (is that) you can really damage and cripple careers of young people who are really not well known… I’m much more concerned in the future about this idea of smearing and then stigmatizing and silencing and censoring and blacklisting people because of their opinions, because of their views…”
Those with the courage of their convictions do not find it necessary to bully others with opposing views. Media Matters’ ultimate goal seems to be to create a media that doesn’t matter and the Color of Change is apparently yellow.
Firing Pat Buchanan didn’t take journalistic courage, but revealed cowardice. And America is better than this even if MSNBC is not.