- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2012

Conservative commentator and columnist Patrick Buchanan has been fired by MSNBC for being too controversial. “I don’t think the ideas that [Mr. Buchanan] put forth [in his bestselling book “Suicide of a Superpower”] are appropriate for the national dialogue, much less on MSNBC,” said MSNBC President Phil Griffin. This weak explanation does nothing to counter the reality that the liberal network has decided to censor its most prominent nonliberal voice. That MSNBC has taken this action in an important election year exposes the fundamentally partisan nature of the move.

The idea that MSNBC just suddenly realized that Mr. Buchanan throws some rhetorical bombs is laughable. There’s nothing in his latest book that’s different from what he has been saying and writing for years, and for the last 10 years he has been employed by MSNBC. Mr. Buchanan regularly crosses politically-correct lines into ideological no man’s land by taking on subjects that scare off meeker and less intellectually honest pundits. If anything, Mr. Buchanan’s tongue is less tart than it was before he joined MSNBC a decade ago because the national dialogue has moved so far to the left. Much of what was fair game to debate in the 1980s and ‘90s is now considered too sensitive and thus off the table for public discussion.

Mr. Buchanan’s sin is that he thinks it is important to revisit issues of the past to examine where the nation went wrong. At the heart of the matter is that Mr. Buchanan says what millions of people think but most are too afraid to admit, especially when it comes to this country’s perilous condition. With our debt poised to surpass our gross domestic product, real unemployment around 15 percent (excluding government mathematical tricks), the dollar plummeting in value and prestige, and President Obama paring down our nuclear arsenal and uniformed forces while Communist China ramps up its military, there’s no denying that U.S. superpower status is seriously being threatened. The time to determine where we took a wrong turn and how to turn it around should come before we go over the cliff, not after. Now is not the time to exclude brilliant - even if contentious - minds from delving into all the thorny matters involved in national decline.

MSNBC censorship exposes a couple of myths about the news business and people who like to call themselves progressive. The first is the misnomer of what is generally referred to as the mainstream media, which is really knee-jerk liberal. Aside from one network and a handful of publications, most media outlets openly espouse far-left opinions and promote the Democratic Party. The second yarn is that these so-called progressives embrace enlightenment through the pursuit of knowledge, especially when it is unconventional. The ugly truth is that the left works to shut up those who don’t parrot liberal dogma. As Mr. Buchanan put it, “All the while prattling about their love of dissent and devotion to the First Amendment, they seek systematically to silence and censor dissent.” Or as he told The Washington Times, “Clearly, some ideas have no right to be heard.”


The gagging of Pat Buchanan is representative of a larger cultural crisis. America is in a dangerous place where the left and right are no longer willing to have a civil conversation to address our nation’s myriad ills. The United States motto is “E Pluribus Unum” - “Out of many, one.” Is that still true if different sides can no longer work together?

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).