National Review stands athwart history and yells...and nobody listens

"People who spend a lot of time in front of Fox News or MSNBC," writes Kevin Williamson in National Review Online (NRO), "are not in the main what you'd call happy and well-adjusted people."

Williamson is one of the bright young writers of N.R. and NRO, presided over by Rich Lowry (or is it Richard now?), who have made National Review increasingly irrelevant to modern American conservatism.  Williamson's estimation of Fox News viewers resembles Hillary Clinton's description of populist conservatives as "deplorables" and Barack Obama's snide remark about those voters who cling to their religion and guns.  Bill Buckley (who famously remarked that he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 persons in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard) is probably turning over in his grave.

It is hard to pinpoint when things went awry with what was once a great magazine that regularly published James Burnham, Whittaker Chambers, Russell Kirk, William Rusher, Will Herberg, Michael Novak, Joseph Sobran, D. Keith Mano, John O'Sullivan, and so many other great writers.  Perhaps, like Bill Kristol and his crowd of "NeverTrumps," N.R.'s editors succumbed to Trump Derangement Syndrome.  And perhaps it is generational — the Rich Lowry generation of writers and editors have been shaped to some extent by the same decaying Western culture that has afflicted our society at large.

Williamson's article is another "hit piece" on Fox News's Tucker Carlson, whose television program, as Williamson admits, reaches a greater audience in one evening than National Review reaches in twenty years.  Williamson decries what he calls the "cable news bubble" and the "fractured media landscape," and then criticizes "modern right-wing Internet journalism."  His main point is that even with all of his viewers, Tucker Carlson's impact on the general public and our culture is relatively small.

Williamson rightly points out that the FOX and MSNBC news stars all inhabit a single "bubble": they all work in Manhattan and live in the same neighborhoods, and their children go to the same schools.  "[T]hey have a lot more in common with one another," he writes, "than either has in common with the shmucks who compose their audiences."  Of course, Williamson fails to mention N.R.'s own "bubble," which consists largely of Ivy League intellectuals who regret having to tolerate the populist conservatives who have usurped N.R.'s influence over modern conservatism.

Carlson and Fox News (with all of its flaws) have made a difference.  They have been the lone media giant that the "shmucks" and "deplorables" and those who cling to their religion and guns can turn to for information untarnished by the elite, smug liberalism that infects all the other giant media and so much of our culture.  It is Tucker Carlson, not National Review, who today is standing athwart history yelling "stop."

Image: National Review.

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