The New York Times’ Brian Stelter took a look behind the firing of conservative Pat Buchanan by MSNBC and concludes that Buchanan’s latest book was just the excuse MSNBC president Phil Griffin needed to dump Buchanan:
At MSNBC, “there was apprehension that my book would cause some kind of explosion and firestorm, which it did not,” Mr. Buchanan said by telephone on Saturday. “To be honest, I’ve never had a better reception for a book I’ve written.”
To executives at MSNBC, however, the book’s statements were indefensible and, though they did not say so publicly, incongruent with a channel that has branded itself as progressive and forward-thinking and has a disproportionately high share of African-American and Hispanic viewers.
Though Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, denied that the channel’s political identity was a consideration in the breakup, he said last week, “I want MSNBC to reflect America in the 21st century, not the America of the 1940s.”
Buchanan, who is an unabashed conservative with deep roots in Washington politics, has been working for the network since 2002 when it was getting its footing and searching for an identity.
That identity has become clearer in the last few years as the network launched it’s “Lean Forward” campaign and assembled a primetime lineup of liberal hosts ranging from Keith Olbermann (now at Current TV) to Ed Schultz, and Rachel Maddow, just to name a few.
This increasing shift to the left, as Stelter notes, left Buchanan as more of an outlier on the network as he became the most strident conservative voice at MSNBC.
Buchanan has said that his newest book followed on the theme of his previous efforts and that his views were well known on the issue of the changing racial composition in America. By all appearances, it didn’t seem to bother MSNBC until now.
While Chris Matthews disagreed with Buchanan on just about everything, he lamented on his program after the firing that he already missed Pat.
Griffin caved into left-wing critics of the book, including Media Matters. His statement underscores that he prefers the less dogmatic and less conservative opinions of Michael Steele and Meghan McCain, making it easier for the network to continue on its path to lean leftward.