Friday, February 29, 2008


This week marked the passing of editor, publisher, columnist, author and TV host William F. Buckley Jr., one of the most prominent media figures of the 20th century. But to remember Buckley as just a media phenomenon may be giving him short shrift.

Comments [27]

Jack from Chicago

When what you know in your guts has no factual basis, you need to think more clearly about who's being self-serving.

Mar. 07 2008 10:13 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

So, again, we've gone from a "myth" debunked, to minot... er minor details disputed and a choice between believing the media giant's powerful PR department or what we know in our guts is true.

As I have heard one NPR reporter often quoted, "Lies should not be given the same weight as the truth." Self-serving corporate lies, I might add.

Mar. 07 2008 03:28 AM
Hildy Johnson

Thank you for resisting the lovefest that surrounded Bukcley's death last week. I found this summary to be accurate and unsentimental.

Mar. 06 2008 11:02 AM
Jack from Chicago

Chris, See Slate article from early last year.

Mar. 06 2008 02:42 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Though, poorly edited.

Mar. 06 2008 01:12 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

O.K., Jack, I plead to laziness.

I originally wrote about the Minot incident from vague memories of the Bill Moyers Journal program that referred to it. Not only did I get the facts wrong, I also misread the so-called debunking site (the only one cited by a critic of what I wrote, a few weeks ago). That site is: Anyone interested can read this, though it isn’t worth the effort.

Interestingly, that site suggests checking with sites named Urban Legends or snopes, where no such myth or debunking of it is listed under Minot.

The only other supposed debunking of the Minot story that has come up in the OTM comments is twice you saying it has been debunked, once above here.

So, I went to my primary source, the website for Journal and plugged in Minot, North Dakota. It is the real story is there, including citation of a New York Times article and a Senate Committee hearing from January 14, 2003.

(If my first attempt to post this shows up, this is more concise.)

Mar. 06 2008 01:09 AM

" WFB would be so quick to retort, "If it were up to liberals, we'd be a Soviet colony".
No he wouldn't. I don't think even WFB would be dumb enough to reply to historical fact with simple-minded hypothetical posturing.

Buckley wasn’t an idiot; he was just a puffed-up apologist for colonialism. He talked over his opponent, and talked endlessly without ever saying anything.
Smart people speak so as to be understood; Buckley spent his life speaking to confuse and hoodwink the masses--he never spoke to the educated, they could see right thru him, his object was pure showmanship to sell fascism to the hoi poloi.

"The 30 million people listening to him everyday could just as easily be listening to sports radio."

You could say that again.
But THAT'S $30 million a year oxycontin-boy makes bloviating poopaganda at his ignorant listeners (I think they're called brownshirt dittoheads). You know, saying stuff like "Libruls, bad, Corporations, good." And they seem to suck it up 'big time'.

Back in the 60s, Goldwater, Buckley and Reagan were correctly labeled “reactionaries”, not conservatives. These guys and two generations of followers don’t want to “conserve" anything. Democrats and the press need to refer to these so-called “conservatives” as reactionaries once more.

I am a conservative and I agree, your comment was not sarcastic.

Mar. 06 2008 12:02 AM
Eric Goebelbecker from Maywood NJ

I don't think Rush should be considered a leader on the right (or anywhere else) because he is nothing more than a comedian with a conservative "act."

He hasn't done anything more than put together a successful radio program, get paid a bunch to make appearances and endorsements and repackage his act into a few books. He's famous, he's successful, he may even be a trend setter, but to call him a political leader is a stretch.

Buckley, as much as I don't like him, created a body of work and had a significant and lasting influence on American politics and culture. Other than maybe cowing a few pols into voting one way or another on a single bill, Rush can not and most likely will not ever be able to make that kind of claim.

The fact that I don't like conservatives has nothing to do with it. I'd say the same thing about Bill Maher, Al Franken, Keith Olbermann....anyone on Air America or anywhere else. None of them may have Rush's ratings (whatever they might really be) but he's still just a comedian with a successful radio show. He almost admitted as much when he was interviewed regarding his attacks on McCain last month.

Mar. 05 2008 11:34 AM
Jack from Chicago

"The fact that Rush is considered a leader on the right says so much more than I ever could about Buckley's conservative movement."

Actually this doesn't say much about anything, but I can certainly interpret it to mean that you believe that Limbaugh is not worthy of being considered a leader of the conservative movement. Why you don't say and evidence you don't provide. It's clear you don't like conservatives, good for you.

Chris, after having your Clear Channel myths debunked repeatedly, I hardly take everything you write at face value.

Mar. 05 2008 09:56 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Eric, I'll admit the oxycontin line was a cheap shot but it was really aimed at what I took to be "Jack from Chicago" masquerading as "Richard from Chicago" and look who responded.

I remember hearing about a couple of guys who got people really involved in politics from before I was born, one who was setting up to take America by storm before he was assassinated, Huey P. Long, and the other one who did take Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Belgium, North Africa, etc., etc. by storm trooper.

Is that what you mean by "successfully getting people interested in their government", Jack? I don’t think so but, when you ask repeatedly, “What does it matter…,” I can’t help thinking that results such as that is why it does matter.

Mar. 05 2008 02:20 AM
Eric Goebelbecker from Smugville, NJ

I'm not really clear what part of my comments regarding Rush are smug or elitist. Should I have said he makes me feel nauseous or maybe taken a cheap shot at his drug addiction, rather than pointing out what he has in common with Buckley?

I think Buckley would be pretty sad to hear that all it takes to be considered a conservative leader in the U.S. is high ratings. Limbaugh/O'Reilly '12 anyone?

P.S. 30 million? Where did you get that number from? Has Rush been quoting it on his show?

Mar. 05 2008 12:01 AM
Jack from Chicago

The 30 million who listen to Limbaugh give him his leadership status, but the other leaders are in academia, think tanks, or less commercial forms of media.

I agree with Michael's comments on Buckley, but his writings were out of reach for the vast majority of the populace. Limbaugh and Franken are not going after the Buckley crowd, but they are successfully getting people interested in their government.

Eric, your comments on Limbaugh seem smug and elitest. How Buckley of you.

Mar. 04 2008 03:51 PM
Eric Goebelbecker from Maywood NJ

"What does it matter what inspires Limbaugh? Are the leaders of the left more noble?"

The fact that Rush is considered a leader on the right says so much more than I ever could about Buckley's conservative movement.

Regardless of how well-dressed, expertly written, and professionally packaged, Buckley's conservatism was always based on cynicism, exclusivity, and a dollop of contempt - whether it be for nonwhites, "communists" or just fellow Americans that happen to disagree. No matter how low-brow and farcical, Rush might sometime seems like a caricature of Buckley but he should never accused of being unfaithful. It's all there. He justs uses colloquial English.

Mar. 04 2008 02:17 PM
Michael James Hill from Milwaukee, WI

Sorry Jack. Anyone who thinks only gets ill listening to Limbaugh and his kind. This has nothing to do with being on the left or the right.

Buckley challenged us to think. Why do you think that his writing was purposely "ponderous"? Limbaugh challenges us to keep our lunch down. And there are a number of commentators on the left just as annoying.

Politics has become just another form of cheap entertainment and this prevents any creative solutions for our problems.

For example, and I know I am off message here, what if someone were to purpose that government-run-single payer universal health care would aid our capitalist country in this time of a global economy? I invision Rush growing red in a rant about about socialism.

Mar. 04 2008 01:48 PM
Jack from Chicago

What does it matter what inspires Limbaugh? Are the leaders of the left more noble? He inspires people to think and get involved in the process. The 30 million people listening to him everyday could just as easily be listening to sports radio. Given how ugly the political process is, any participation should be encouraged.

Mar. 04 2008 10:29 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Sure, "Richard", with you it is always the very lowest common denominator. I'm thinking it is the oxycontin that inspires Limbaugh or the ratings, not any real core values.

Speaking of flip flops, he must have gotten neck spasms turning from rabble rousing against McCain, to rallying for him against the Times, and than against him, again, for disavowing his fellow broadcaster's McCain intro stressing Osama Hussein Bin Laden or whatever it was.

Mar. 04 2008 03:00 AM
Richard from Chicago

"If it were up to conservatives, we'd still be an English colony." And Stevie, as WFB would be so quick to retort, "If it were up to liberals, we'd be a Soviet colony".

The reason that blow hards like Bob Garfield "liked" WFB had little to do with his civility. WFB, while articulate and polite, did not have nearly the mass appeal that his progeny have. I guess for all of Bob's "intellectualism" and "deep hard hitting analyses of the media" deep down inside he's more than a little jealous that Limbaugh has about 29.9 million listeners than he does. For all of Limbaugh's faults and shortcomings, his gift of being able to connect with the average guy on the street and provide an alternative to the ivory tower of NPR is what really irks people, and thanks for WFB for inspiring him.

Mar. 03 2008 11:46 PM
Matthew Kabrisky from Dayton, OH

Your replay of Buckley losing it in conversation with Gore Vidal reminded of a similar outburst that I heard many years ago. Buckley was in a conversation in which one of the participants disparaged the Catholic Church. Buckley, clearly incensed, exclaimed, "You can't mock my religion!"

He made it sound like one of the ten commandments or perhaps one of the ten amendments. And the use of the work "mock" also had a touch of the supercilious.

The disparager replied, "Of course I can."

And, of course he could. Buckley evidently realized this and mubled incoherently for a second or so, and resumed the converation that he had broken into.

It's fun to be smart, but we're all fools, too. I don't this ever occured to Buckley

Mar. 03 2008 10:16 PM
Michael James Hill from Milwaukee, WI

"The point was, whatever you think of Buckley's politics, he compares very favorably to to the fools, demagogues and scoundrels who have succeeded his in the Mass Media Conservatism industry."

Well, Amen to that. Unfortunately your point was not made by the way you set up the last line, as Betty noted before me.

Another point. Who is more accurate, Vidal when he calls Buckley a crypto-Nazi or Buckley when he calls Vidal a ... whatever it was that you could not repeat on the air.

As far as I am concerned, Buckley was a conservative and not a Nazi. Vidal, on the other hand, is what he chooses to be, and Buckley rightly labeled. (Note, last I heard, Vidal objects to being called gay.)

Joshua Goldfarb mistakes liberals for fascists even as Vidal slanders Buckley as a crypto-Nazi. Wrap your head around that, and you will understand how much of a falling off there has been in political conversation.

Mar. 03 2008 04:36 PM
Jack from Chicago

Stevie, As your posts so clearly reveal, conservatives hardly have a monopoly on reactionary whining. You don't appear to be in a position to judge intellectual honesty.

Moreover, insults such as calling those with opposing viewpoints Nazis, fools, demagogues and scoundrels not only make it clear where you stand but belittle the import of your viewpoints themselves.

Those who see the traditional mass media as Obama-swooning and anti-conservative have found alternatives to the Paul Krugmans and Dan Rathers of the left. They may not be the conservatives you like, but that says more about you than them.

Mar. 03 2008 01:22 PM
Bob Garfield from undisclosed

Just to be clear, the last line was NOT sarcastic. The point was, whatever you think of Buckley's politics, he compares very favorably to to the fools, demagogues and scoundrels who have succeeded his in the Mass Media Conservatism industry.

Mar. 03 2008 10:31 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Buckley first offended me when, in 1967, I was among a Yale Law School audience of high school students gathered from both New Haven and suburbia to foster dialog among them after each of a series of debates about current issues. It left me with a life-long desire to hone my debating skills so as to be able to beat that sucker.

Most delicious memories regarding him: watching the Dali Lama serenely skewering him on "Firing Line" with two lines. Buckley says, "You’re consulting your translator? I'm speaking English, he's speaking English." "I know," said his Holiness. Later, "Name me one Communist country that hasn't become a dictatorship," demanded Bill. "Chile, before Allende was murdered," the Dali Lama smiled.

My own use of a simple letter in the Yale Daily News, knowing that he would read it, to drive Al Haig out of his campaign for the Presidency also pleased me. Al actually believed, since he had resigned from UTC over admitted bribery on a Saturday of a Thanksgiving weekend, that no one in America was aware of it until I confronted him with it at his fellowship speech at Yale.

The letter reiterated the truth and described his refusal to respond when I asked him about it. I just love imagining seeing Buckley's face as he read it at that same desk at which he expired.

Come to think of it, perhaps he surfed here that day.

Mar. 03 2008 12:52 AM
Michael James Hill from Milwaukee, WI

Dear Bob,
I am a liberal. I tune into on the media because I have enjoyed much of what you have to say and the clever way you have of putting things.

Your comment on WFB is very disappointing. To in any way associate Buckley's work with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and his ilk is sad. Buckley engaged liberals in debate and had a long record of showing them respect. You sited the one instance when Gore Vidal provoked him to make an uncharacteristic response. What about all those exchanges with Galbreath and Schleshinger? Why ignore the reason why Buckley was disappointed with President Bush?

Liberal's should miss WFB and his intellegent challenges. And without your sarcasm.

Mar. 02 2008 08:32 PM

It's pretty funny that you thought he was being sarcastic, because when he said "we miss him already", it sounded to me like he was totally serious and my first thought was, "I don't." So he wasn't speaking for me or many others.

But I'm not surprised you feel this way.
Conservatives seem to be reactionaries always finding one thing or another to cry and whine about and in many people's eyes have gained the status of being 'perpetual victims'. That's something to aspire to, eh? So my advice is to go watch Faux News or listen to Rush Limbaugh, both of which I'm sure you'll like much better.

Buckley was also the father of 'Intellectual Dishonesty', a guiding principle of conservative ideology.

Thanks again.

Mar. 02 2008 04:34 PM
Betty from NY

I was highly disturbed by the tone of voice expressed in the closing phrase of your comments upon the death of WFB, "we miss him already." This was said with such sarcasm, that it was disrespectful and simply unacceptable.
I knew that I was listening to a highly liberal radio station, but I had not been aware that you have no sense of decorum.

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Mar. 02 2008 03:03 PM

Ultimately just a tool, the snooty and snotty Buckley was the originator of the smarmy, manipulating "I'm better than you because I'm richer than you" bully-smirk that's so prevalent on Fox News today. Yeah, that's a great contribution to mankind.

As WFB said, " grant 'little people' what we so hard fought for", has become a common meme of the 'yellow-elephant' right: self-serving soldiers of Darwinian Capitalism that they are.

If it were up to conservatives, we'd still be an English colony.

Mar. 01 2008 05:22 PM
J McClure from Memphis, TN

From Buckley in the National Review 1957
"The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes — the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists."

Please remember all of WFB

Mar. 01 2008 11:14 AM

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