Just at the time I was at the Young Republican Leadership Conference in DC in early, 1962, the talk all over was that t William Buckley was to be a guest on the Jack Paar show.
This was unheard of. Conservatives were blacked out. Every “discussion” show about politics on every network had two Eastern liberal Republicans and two Eastern liberal Democrats.
The Fairness Doctrine went on vacation during the 1964 Goldwater election.
But then an evolution began. Faced with an audience which was overwhelmingly conservative the media began to put on a few token conservatives. It sold, so they began to invite very selected ones back, the ones who made them look good.
This looks exactly like a conspiracy. It was the opposite: At the beginning the networks had no intention of inviting ANY conservatives to ANY show twice. But they enjoyed the ones like Buckley or George Will who would share big words with them and assure them that they dreamed their daughters would marry people like these Wonderful Liberals.
We now have a myth taken for granted, a myth called “the middle of the road.” The media found that, if they wanted to suppress discussion of any issue, all they had to do was to get Buckley or Will to agree with them. Then they would say, “Even George Will, the conservative commentator,” says that this should never be discussed.
It was a matter of simple evolution. Those conservatives who learned to say what they were needed to say at any time were published and invited as guests more and more.
Like all evolution, it is obvious once you say it.
Respectable conservatives have been evolving this way for fifty years.
Pat Buchanan is the last of the breed that ever had any real dedication to his principles. But he could never make dogcatcher because, in the end, he is a pathetic theologue. I was a friend of his, and not only could I tell him that, I DID tell him that.
But there is not a single conservative spokesman who makes his living in the trade who has not survived cutthroat competition in reading every signal the media sends out. It isn’t entirely accidental that the embarrassing business of a six year sentence for Holocaust Denial in Austria was totally ignored by the media, and then William Buckley was the only commentator to praise it.
No one TOLD Buckley to do that. No one brought it up. But it was what the media needed at that moment, and Buckley had spent a lifetime competing to read what signal the conservative side of the two side myth, historical evolution required him to flash.