Conservative Exclusion Is a Right-Wing Delusion

National Review senior editor Jay Nordlinger (Corner, 3/24/10), responding to CNN pairing disgraced Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer with a not-conservative-enough-for-National-Review Kathleen Parker, muses:

I’m reminded why conservatives had to build their own media outlets. It’s sort of like Jews and country clubs. Jews built their own, not because they wanted to, necessarily, but because the other clubs wouldn’t let them in. They weren’t being “clannish.” They wanted to play golf, on first-class courses….

Well, we conservatives built our own media outlets–because the other clubs wouldn’t let us in. I guess it’s working out OK.

Blogger Ryan McNeely (Yglesias, 3/24/10) takes issue with the comparison of put-upon conservative pundits with ethnic discrimination. But the idea that conservatives were ever excluded from corporate media in the first place is nothing but a delusion.

Presumably one of the outlets conservatives built that Nordlinger has in mind was his own National Review. One of the writers founding editor William F. Buckley first recruited for his staff was Whittaker Chambers, the famous former Communist turned arch-conservative. Chambers’ previous perch was at Time magazine, where he was considered the magazine’s most important writer. He had already made his conversion to the right when he went to Time (“Pinkos who did not bat an eye when the Soviet government exterminated 3,000,000 peasants by famine will go for a good cry over the hardships of the Okies,” he wrote in a movie review of The Grapes of Wrath2/12/40), but Henry Luce had no problem taking him on board. (Buckley himself, of course, had a prominent 33-year-career on that notorious suppressor of conservatives, PBS.)

In the bad old days, when no one would let conservatives work in the media, who was the country’s most prominent columnist? Walter Winchell, defender of Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover. Similar politics didn’t stop Paul Harvey from getting a daily slot for commentary on the ABC Radio Network.

The fact is that many of the people who owned newspapers, magazines and radio stations–as you might expect of millionaire businessmen–were quite conservative: people like Robert McCormick, Harry Chandler and Frank Gannett. These are the bosses who would have been barring conservatives from working in the media industry. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.