Tuesday’s posting of James Kirchick’s New Republic screed on Ron Paul, titled “Angry White Man,” a detailed examination of the contents of years of back issues of the Ron Paul Political Report, is the culmination of “detective” work that we now know involved the use of the Wilcox Collection at the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society (extensive repositories of literature from the political fringes of the far right and radical left). The TNR posting, perhaps fact-checked by Stephen Glass, required no fewer than four corrections.
What does this tell us about the Fourth Estate? Basically, any candidate who seeks public office must get the seal of approval of the media elite. And in their estimation, scratch the surface of a genuine maverick and you’ll discover a racist, homophobic, anti-Semite.
Predictably, in the past few days, several news organizations have focused on TNR’s reportage. CNN, National Public Radio, UPI, and the Washington Post, have weighed in. The media elite’s threshold of acceptability: not doubting that Martin Luther King, Jr. was an upstanding public figure, or questioning racial egalitarianism, or remaining skeptical about Lincoln’s greatness, or failing to embrace homosexuality, or insufficiently denouncing The Bell Curve.
When Pat Buchanan was running as a presidential candidate, I recall a similar scorched-earth treatment at Newsweek , where I then worked. The director of Library Services in New York , Madeline Cohen, put together an extensive dossier (2 or 3 large three-ring binders) of Buchanan’s writings and public commentary for Newsweek’s Washington Bureau research staff. If Buchanan ever broke wind in public, she documented it. I remember my boss William Rafferty, who once was Ted Koppel's principal researcher, talking about how Cohen went into overdrive compiling every little anecdote about Buchanan from trolling Nexis.
Recently, when Howard Fineman interviewed Paul for Newsweek—see video posted on the magazine’s website—it wasn’t long into the interview before Fineman popped the grand enchilada: Do you think the Jewish people are entitled to a homeland of their own in Palestine? When Fineman thought Paul’s answer insufficiently explained his position, he pressed him again.
On Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC show, Kirchick described the exquisite paranoia with which the media elites operate:
"What he does, Tucker, is he speaks in code. He is a transmitter. He will say certain things that, you know, at first may not appear to be overtly racist, but to certain audiences they know what he is talking about. So when he talks about secession, he says it in a way that’s not exactly neo-Confederate or isn’t exactly explicitly neo-Confederate. But to people who are in the know and people who are a part of this [sic] neo-Confederate communities, they know exactly what he is talking about."[Transcript, January 7, 2008]
Sure, we know who isn’t going to win the Republican nomination or the 2008 Presidential election. We also know why.
Where’s Dan Rather when you need him?