The crotchety old man excuse might work for the family bigot, but when that family bigot has a platform that reaches millions? That is the point it stops being, “uncle Pat just being uncle Pat,” and starts giving a voice of legitimacy to the KKK and to Neo-Nazis.
Pat Buchanan has a long history of racist, homophobic and antisemitic rants, some of which he’s freely spewed on the supposedly liberal MSNBC. Media Matters has done a great job of keeping track of his worst.
It appeared that no matter how much hate “Gramps” projectile vomited over a national audience, MSNBC stood by their man…until now. It now seems that Buchanan has crossed the line, even for MSNBC.
Buchanan’s book, Suicide of a Superpower, hit the shelves a few months ago and MSNBC ain’t havin’ none of its antisemitic bile. Buchanan has been MIA since the book release but MSNBC President, Phil Griffin finally spoke about pulling Buchanan off the air. Deadline’s Ray Richmond reports Griffin as saying:
“I don’t think the ideas that [Buchanan] put forth [in the book] are appropriate for the national dialogue, much less on MSNBC.” Will Buchanan be back at all on MSNBC? “I have not made my decision,” replied Griffin, who did say he will be tinkering with the network’s format as the year goes on. “Pat’s a good guy. He didn’t like [being removed from the air], but he understood.”
And to that I offer a one-handed clap. While it might be great that Griffin finally had the balls to say “enough is enough,” why the hell did he officially react in January to a book that was released in October? Why did Buchanan get away with his bigoted views for years on MSNBC, a cable network that has anemic ratings, but still reaches far more people than all but the most successful books?
As a former marketing exec, I smell a PR stunt. What better way to restart momentum for a book that started strong but is already at half price on Amazon (link intentionally not included)? What better way to give press to MSNBC? Buchanan wore out his welcome a long time ago. The target demographic for MSNBC is between ages 25 and 54. Not only does Buchanan’s age fall outside of that demographic, his nostalgia for his world history largely fall flat on an audience which grew up in the post-civil rights era. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with being older than your target demographic, but not being able to relate to your target demographic is entirely another thing.
Was booting Buchanan a violation of his First Amendment rights? Hell no! As a corporation, MSNBC has a responsibility to its shareholders, not to the First Amendment. If Uncle Sam chose to arrest or fine Uncle Pat for his rants, then yes, that would be a violation of the First Amendment, but MSNBC made a business decision. In my opinion, weird timing or not, Griffin used the book as the excuse to cut the ties on a business decision that wasn’t working. The door was left open for Buchanan to be welcomed back, but don’t look for it.