- Politics and Social Issues
Pat Buchanan - Just Another Paper Cup Thrown Out the Window
The News Cycle
The news about Pat Buchanan getting canned from MSNBC is a one or two-day news cycle event. Currently, there is too much happening in the Middle-East and in the GOP primary race, to give Pat's dismissal more than a few minutes.
The dismissal stemmed from the publication of his latest book called "The Decline and Fall of Christian America." He might as well have been as blunt to call the book The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. Don't worry, I'm not going to argue for or against the issues that Pat raises. That is something you can determine yourself after reading the book.
What I find more interesting is the underlying reason behind MSNBC firing Pat and how the media has treated this tid-bit of news.
The reason for his firing definitely coincides with some of the "right wing" statements put forth in Pat's book ... but only indirectly. The book apparently offended gays, blacks, jews, Mexican-Americans, and probably others. The gist of the book is presented as a kind of prophecy -- that whatever values/virtues/beliefs once held strictly by whites (or at least a portion of whites) is going to be overrun by what social anthropologists would term the "outsiders." According to Pat, gays are destroying the Christian core of morality of the country. The blacks are destroying free speech by their, as it were, hyper-sensitivity to any criticism, and, therefore, suppressing freedom of speech. The same argument goes against the Jews. The immigration of people from Mexico, Pat argues, are going to breed White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) into oblivion.
Pat stepped on so many toes with this publication that one can only imagine the barrage of mail, emails, and phone calls hitting MSNBC within a short time-frame.
MSNBC doesn't want to be the recipient of hate mail from either the far right or the far left. We musn't forget that other than "The News Hour," the networks broadcast to make money, pull in as big an audience as possible, and keep their sponsors happy. In addition they have to pay attention to the volume of mail/phone calls they receive. They have to bend with the wind or stand the risk of breaking.
The biggest mistake any of us could make is to forget that any of the big media outlets are anything other than entertainment shows. A lot of people don't like game programs or soap operas, so the 24/7 news is another way of keeping people glued to their TV sets. (While operation Desert Storm was in process, I got about four hours of sleep per night because I didn't want to miss a single report coming from the embedded reporters ... who really never saw anything.)
Who remembers the number of hours that were spent not only observing the O.J. Simpson trial but also suffering through endless speculative interviews. If civil war in Syria had occurred during that time period, it would have just been a ticker-tape announcement at the top of the screen.
The media has to peddle its wares to what they deem to be the center. If they take too much heat from either the left or the right, they make adjustments such as this one with Pat Buchanan. Keith Olbermann got the shaft because he was pulling the branch too far to the left. It doesn't seem to matter what team you are on, the primary objective of its commentators is to not rock the boat.
Ideally, a media outlet can employ a mixture of left and right-wing commentators who soft-peddle their opinions -- not only on camera but with anything else with which they might be affiliated. Maybe the idea is to employ center-left and center-right commentators who do not write potentially explosive opinion pieces or books.
The media definitely does not want powder kegs in their employment. They do not want radicals or extremists. They want the news and opinions to filter out to the public like a stream of elevator music. A particular personality may help increase the ratings, but if his/her rant is too left or right, the media risks losing certain necessary sponsorship ... and that can't be allowed to happen.
So, if you subtract the radical thinkers from either end of the spectrum, what are you left with in terms of substance? I would define it as a kind of flavorless pablum, or baby food -- easily consumable, with as few burps as possible. And, who knows, maybe this is for the best in the long run. After all, we are living in a chaotically divided country.
Perhaps sometime in the future news programs will no longer exist. Maybe people will watch talk shows or comedy hours that are only "interrupted" with a ticker tape of world information continuously running along the top of your TV, phone, tablet, or whatever. The information streaming across your screen will have been pre-edited in such a way that it wouldn't raise anyone's hackles. Perhaps you will be told of a terrorist attack in Amsterdam, but details such as how many civilian casualties were involved might be deliberately filtered out. Truly disturbing images and details would never be released. And, who knows, maybe we'll all be happier for it and have fewer divisions within our society. Information is powerful and it is dangerous. Remove that from our minds and we'll be able to concentrate more on court room drama or sports or celebrity scandals. Oh, we'll still be arguing, but no one will be marching in the streets, no one will be holding sit-ins because we will have become the equivalent of worms, nestled comfortably in the soft, dark soil.
And maybe ... just maybe the US will adhere to one of Pat's tenants of isolationism/non-involvement. Civil unrest/wars occurring in the Middle East, Europe, Africa will strike us as irrelevant other than how it may effect our national economy. Let Russia or China become the new empire and we can sit back and see how well they fair. Pat likes to refer to countries like France as being in a Club Med. Hey, maybe it will be our time to bask in the sun. Yes, it could be like that, or maybe Pat's vision of the US falling into a third-world status will eventually become true. All I know is it is better to be sipping on a pina colada under a palm tree than being the world's police force.
Maybe, with the help of the evolving media we can reach that calm (perhaps artificial) sense of relaxation that America hasn't enjoyed for many, many years.