Why one liberal thinks MSNBC should not have fired Pat Buchanan

MSNBC has officially let Pat Buchanan go. They had already suspended him awhile back for his latest book.

Well, I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now. Buchanan is worth keeping around for his first-hand knowledge of how dirty tricks work.

 Look, I’m a liberal. I disagree with Buchanan on almost everything, except his opposition to the Iraq War, and even there I question his motivations. And although I haven’t read his new book, I’ve read several of his previous ones. From the synopses I’ve read of the new one, it sounds pretty much like his other books, so why did MSNBC feel that anything had changed between when they hired him and now?

I thought Buchanan’s old role on Rachel Maddow’s show was pretty well-designed: throughout the segment, there always seemed to be the implication that he was some kind of kooky old codger with wacky ideas. But he still got to put out his wacky ideas, and thus many liberals got to see first-hand what it was that the Republicans were talking about. Why hear what liberal analysts think the Republicans are thinking when you’ve got a real one that you can just ask?

A lot of liberals are excited that Buchanan is gone because he says offensive things. Yeah, he does. But, in the end, he’s just some guy on TV. Do not be offended–instead, learn from what he says, use it to understand him and his allies, and having understood them, use it to gain an advantage over them.

What it comes down to is that I don’t believe in censoring political beliefs, even those I vehemently disagree with like Buchanan’s, because it amounts to saying “the people who hold these views shall be allowed to operate without scrutiny”. It’s an advantage to Buchanan’s side to be censored by MSNBC. I mean, he’ll go back to writing on his blog, where all the other people who are inclined to think like him will read it and write approving comments and buy his books while the liberals forget about their existence. Then, come voting day, we’ll wonder where all these extreme right-wingers came from.

Obviously, that’s a bit of an exaggeration–that couldn’t occur because of this one single decision to fire an MSNBC pundit. But over time, if  they keep this pattern up, that could happen. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to fire someone from a political news and opinion channel for saying controversial stuff about politics, even though I disagree with him completely.

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