When Will Patrick Buchanan Get the Same Scrutiny as Rev. Wright?
Yesterday, Meet the Press host Tim Russert spent 15 minutes grilling Barack Obama on his ties to explosive preacher Jeremiah Wright -- eventually asking why, after years of evidence that the minister had controversial views on race and discrimination, that he didn't tell his former pastor a long time ago that America wasn't a land that believed in white supremacy and black inferiority.
I wonder if Russert will ever ask that same questions of his colleagues and bosses at NBC News.
That's because the network has employed for years as a political analyst a man who seem to embody the very same beliefs in America's investment in white supremacy and black inferiority: Patrick J. Buchanan.
Advocacy groups have spent lots of time documenting Buchanan's ties to white supremacist think tanks and concepts, resulting the the noted anti-racist Souther Poverty Law Center denouncing his use of racist sources and decision to build an entire book around a white nationalist screed.
Buchanan's Friday column, titled The Way Our World Ends, is another example of such thinking, concluding that "the Caucasian race is going the way of the Mohicans" because of a "baby boom among these black and brown peoples" that will bring an end to Western Man in the 21st Century.
In this screed, Buchanan uses figures from a study by the National Policy Institute -- another institution denounced by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an example of "academic racism," in which studies of population and crime rates are used to press white supremacist conclusions. According to their numbers as reported by Buchanan, by 2060 people of African descent will make up 25 percent of the world's population, while Europeans will number just under 10 percent.
In Buchanan's world, this is an Armageddon of alarming proportions. Among his nightmarish visions: A nuclear-armed Russia filled with million of non-Caucasian workers imported from China and central Asia; populations exploding in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan that an "aging, dwindling, dying West" will struggle to dominate; Third World countries "coming to colonize the mother countries as an army of immigrants flood into Europe; an erasure of the U.S./Mexico border or a merger of the two countries.
This is the man who is allowed to opine daily on NBC News platforms about the most diverse presidential race in history; a man who sees weakness in diversity and failure in our continuing merging and meeting of world cultures as populations increase.
You could imagine the media firestorm if Jeremiah Wright made similar observations from a black nationalist perspective. But Buchanan is a welcome guest on Russert's show, presented as a voice to argue about immigration reform and election issues, despite his prejudicial perspectives.
Reminds me of a perceptive column by the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne, who asked why right-wing preachers who make insensitive, prejudiced comments such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Bailey Smith and John Hagee never lost their political influence. Dionne presented an expert who said that black left-wing preachers challenge institutions in ways white right wing preachers don,t but I think there's a simpler explanation.
White people know and trust those white preachers in a way they don't know or trust black preachers.
Buchanan trades on that same familiarity in maintaining a lucrative career as a TV pundit while filling books and columns with the kind of prejudice that would get him kicked off the air if he were a lesser-known figure. Far back as 1999, ABC News' Jake Tapper -- then at Salon.com -- wrote about the man who, as a presidential candidate, leaves "a trail of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetorical dung behind him wherever he goes."
So the question remains: Is Russert holding his own show to a lower standard than Obama's presidential campaign? Or is he just more willing to tolerate hate speech when it comes from a white man?