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Perhaps I am not the only viewer who finds that Fox News, the “conservative network,” has become somewhat schizophrenic. I can watch a bit of “Hannity” late in the evening, or a few minutes of “Fox & Friends” earlier when I arise in the morning, and the panelists and hosts offer convincing evidence of one sort or another that candidate Donald Trump and his staffers were surveilled (“wiretapped”) during the 2016 presidential campaign. Indeed, Sean Hannity has interviewed investigative reporter Sara Carter (of the web site Circa) who cites several concrete insider intelligence sources confirming the listening in.
The morning “Friends” program has had respected Judge Andrew Napolitano on at least twice to confirm that Fox News, the network itself, has received credible reports that the British super-secret intelligence service, GCHQ, did surveillance of the Trump campaign and shared it with the Obama administration (thus, with supposedly clean hands, no real need to go through the NSA or FBI directly, and no direct “paper trail”).
Moreover, there are those prominently reported details, from The New York Times (e.g., January 20, 2017), The Washington Post, NBC, and CNN, based on “multiple [leaked] sources” that Trump associates “talked” with Russians. Apparently, General Michael Flynn was actually surveilled while at Trump Tower. We know now for certain that nothing, nada, compromising linking the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence was ever found, despite the continuing insinuations and desperate hopes of the Mainstream Media (e.g., Rachel Madow, Chris Cuomo, Chris Matthews, et al). But we also know that surveillance did occur.
But then by midday, by the time Shepard Smith comes on during the afternoon, and when those vaunted “Fox All-Stars” show up with Bret Baier during the 6:30 evening time slot, the MSM narrative is in full and often condescending display: with Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Julie Pace (well, she is of AP), and others solemnly intoning “Trump has offered no proof,” “there is no evidence supporting the president’s tweet.” And, of course, clips of omniscient John McCain declaring the same thing are prominently displayed.
One would think that if Fox News had received very serious intel information about listening in, that if its chief legal analyst had received such information about surveillance, that Krauthammer and others would have picked up on that? Right? But, then Krauthammer and others of his ilk have never been Trump supporters; indeed, the good psychiatrist has always been a quasi-never-Trumper, from the get go.
How to explain the disconnect?
Is the MSM narrative so powerful and the animus against the president so overwhelming, that the temptation to continue the increasingly denuded charade is just too strong, even among members of the “conservative establishment”?
Krauthammer is a leading Neoconservative, just as Jonah Goldberg, Steve Hayes, and the writers at The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, and atother venues who show up on Fox are . They have never been very keen on Donald Trump. At least The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol has been consistent and open in his constant and virulent opposition to the president.
The essential connections here are something I’ve written about before several times on this site: Neoconservatism and its votaries partake of the same deeply-held fundamental principles as their supposed opponents on the Left. [See, for example, Gary Dorrien’s excellent study, The Neoconservative Mind, or Prof. Paul Gottfried’s scholarly The Strange Death of Marxism] Neoconservatism traces its heritage and tangled lineage, to a large extent, back to Leon Trotsky and his globalist variant of Marxism. By the 1960s, many of the Trotskyites and other American Communists, a very large number of whom lived in the New York area and were of Jewish extraction, had completely soured on the old Soviet Union, which for them had become stagnantly conservative and even anti-semitic. Older Neocons, those movement “godfathers,” such as Irving Kristol (father of Bill) and Norman Podhoretz (father of writer John), describe in some detail that transformative process in their memoirs.
What has become readily apparent is that on traditional moral issues, including such subjects as same sex marriage, advancing gay rights, feminism, and so on, the Neocons partake of views which are only slight variants of those pushed by the established Left. Such traditional aberrations have now become accepted and enshrined “civil rights.” The Neocons’ supposed opposition to such change has been nearly imaginary, while their accommodation to and acceptance of it has been with near alacrity. They have, indeed, created an historical template to support their positions, re-written history, and that revised history informs us that the “civil rights” revolution of the 1960s, and its pro-Communist sympathizing leaders like Martin Luther King, were actually “conservatives,” and that it was only those bad, hayseed “racist” Southern Democrats who oppressed poor Southern black folk.
That’s the continuing narrative, the Neocon “conservative” dogma.
But in presenting this radically revised history of the “movement,” the Neocons also disauthorize and disavow the essential—and entirely respectable—fundamentals of traditional constitutional conservatism. The case can be made that Donald Trump in his views is closer to that earlier conservative narrative than today’s Neocons. We only have to go back and read the early issues of William Buckley’s National Review or Russell Kirk’s Modern Age in the 1950s or 1960s to notice the stark contrast and extreme divergence between those acknowledged conservative “lights” back then and the new and rigid Neocon orthodoxy of today.
No, Buckley, NR associate editor Frank Meyer, Kirk, and other NR writers were not “racists” as the term is strictly understood; they did not hate black folks or wish to “keep them down.” But neither did they favor the Federal government stepping in beyond its defined purview and basically destroying what remained of the nation’s constitutional system of government. They recognized that however laudable more participation by the electorate and economic betterment might be, that the destruction of the republican system would have much worse consequences for the future.
Parenthetically, let me add on a personal note: I got to know Dr. Russell Kirk in 1967, and I served as his assistant 1971-1972 in Mecosta, Michigan. Through Kirk I met Buckley and came to be close friends with prominent conservative writers like Frederick Wilhelmsen, Peter Stanlis, Mel Bradford, Thomas Molnar, Paul Gottfried, and others. Those conservatives were appalled by the virtual take-over by the Neocons of the traditional conservative movement they had fought for and wrote about.
What unites the movement Left and the Neoconservatives is this: The common denominator is that both the faux Neocon “right” and the “left” share a quasi-religious, zealous belief in across-the-board globalist, liberal democratic egalitarianism, which to paraphrase Allan Bloom, must be imposed not only here in the United States, but on the entire world. Such a view, in an uncanny way, parallels Trotsky’s zealous globalism and should cause thinking conservatives to question both the genealogy and the revised historical narrative offered as establishment “conservatism” today.
That principle, across-the-board equality, is not a traditional conservative principle.
Nor, let us add, is it in reality a Christian principle. For the adage, “all men are equal in the sight of God,” is a misreading not only of Scripture but also of traditional Christian teaching. In that teaching, each individual created by God has a potential uniquely his own, and that potential is unlike, that is, unequal, to that of anyone else. Thus, a particular bricklayer has a potential, or if you will, realizable talents (to use St. Matthew’s parable), just as a particular college professor has a potential, particular talents uniquely available to him. That bricklayer is not “equal” to that college professor: they are different, and they are judged not by comparing one to the other, but on the use of their unique talents—that potential—offered to each of them.
Both the progressivist tradition, including the various strains of Marxism, and the Neoconservative inheritors of progressivism, posit across-the-board equality, which in practice demands “liberation” from hide-bound traditions that impede that equality. Thus, their embrace of the ongoing, continually evolving “civil rights” movement, which includes the imposition of “egalitarian democracy” in every remote desert oasis or in every jungle corner over the face of the globe. Recall the words of George W. Bush and other supposed “conservatives” about the universality of “democracy” and “equality.” Such a vision includes, as well, feminism, gay rights, same sex marriage, and more.
Both the implacable Neocon hostility towards Donald Trump and the major reason for the schizophrenia of Fox have their roots in candidate Trump’s campaign promises. He stated frequently that he wanted to end illegal immigration, that he believed in “America First,” and that he wanted to “Make America Great Again.” Such slogans, such pronouncements, dredged up in the minds of various #NeverTrump Neoconservative writers and those associated with them (e.g., James Kirchik, Max Boot, Brett Stephens, Kristol, George Will, et al) horrific visions of the old “America First” movement of the 1930s. For them “America First” was associated with anti-semitism and the haunting fear of a resurgence of “fascism” and “nativism” on American shores. [It may also help explain their Russophobia, as Russia now presents a nationalist conservative image---can the days of the pogrom be far behind?]
Never mind that such suspicions and charges are specious, based on an arrogant ignorance of the older America First movement, and an even worse familiarity with the historical record. The America First organization was never a “fascist” or “anti-semitic” movement, but included millions of citizens who wished to avoid another world war. Included in its ranks were Quakers, members of the Church of the Brethren, and pacifists, and many patriotic Americans. No doubt a few supporters of the Axis powers attempted to use it, but, by and large, they were unsuccessful.
Then, there was candidate Trump’s opposition to unfair international trade deals, the Trans Pacific Partnership, and his willingness to place duties or tariffs on foreign imports to protect American workers and companies. Such a position, again, goes against the globalist fundamentals of Neoconservatism.
Moreover, on several occasions Trump advocated a shake-up in foreign policy: the United States, he declared, should not be “the world’s policeman.” In his inaugural address back on January 20 this year, he re-stated that same theme—the United States did not seek to go round the world and impose its governing system and ideas on others. And, once again, such a view brought him into direct conflict with an essential Neoconservative vision.
Perhaps the most damning agenda item that insured hostility was candidate Trump’s promise to “drain the swamps” in Washington, that is, to dislodge and dethrone the regnant political establishment, and that establishment includes most of the Neocons and the Washington GOP leadership.
Such a proposition, by such an uncouth ruffian, albeit a billionaire, could not be permitted to succeed. Donald Trump is not part of the Deep State. Neither is he an intellectual, depending, it appears, on his own business instincts and perceptions for his decision making. He has not paid his dues to the managerial and political oligarchy that has ruled this nation for decades. Thus, either he must be surrounded by all-of-a-sudden supportive Establishment types, or he must be weakened, perhaps neutered, or eventually run out of office. Thus, the spectacle of the vocal anti-Trumper Eliot Abrams, who had called Donald Trump “unfit” for public office last Fall, currying favor in January (with support of various Establishment figures) to become the second man at the Department of State. Only the president’s intuitive good sense (and maybe Steve Bannon) averted such a patent subversion.
The pressures on the president, the attempts to manipulate and divert (and subvert) his enunciated agenda, will, doubtlessly, continue. Already various goals seem sidelined, including a major initiative to find a modus vivendi with Russia (although the president still insists he wants one).
The schizophrenia at Fox may reflect what may be occurring around the White House, itself. And there is little sign of it abating.