When conservative pundit Bill Kristol sounds like a voice of reason among Republicans, you know things have gone off the rails.
Unfortunately, that’s the reality we all now face. Staunch conservatives who, not too long ago, were viewed as the epitome of “conservatism” now seem rational, not because their views have necessarily changed, but because the vast majority of the right-wing has simply lost its collective mind.
During an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Kristol had more than just a few things to say about the current state of the GOP and, in particular, his former employer Fox News.
On how the conservative media has changed and developed:
Fox was always of course somewhat conservative. But it was one thing when it was the somewhat conservative alternative to somewhat liberal MSNBC, and to some degree CNN and mainstream media.
I was on Fox for 10 years really, 2002 to 2012. I think it was pretty good. It was a little tilted right? Sure.
Now Fox is sort of — 75 percent of it seems to be birther-like coverage of different issues. That’s been, I think, bad. And you put that together with the social media and the segmentation of everyone into bubbles, and I think there’s some truth to that criticism.
While I’d disagree with his assessment that it was just “a little titled right,” I’ll agree that Fox News has essentially become a machine built on pushing conspiracies and pandering to ignorance.
On what he thinks about Tucker Carlson, who started out working for Kristol at The Weekly Standard:
I mean, now you look at — Tucker Carlson began at The Weekly Standard. Tucker Carlson was a great young reporter. He was one of the most gifted 24-year-olds I’ve seen in the 20 years that I edited the magazine. His copy was sort of perfect at age 24.
He had always a little touch of Pat Buchananism, I would say, paleo-conservativism. But that’s very different from what he’s become now. I mean, it is close now to racism, white — I mean, I don’t know if it’s racism exactly — but ethno-nationalism of some kind, let’s call it. A combination of dumbing down, as you said earlier, and stirring people’s emotions in a very unhealthy way.
My opinion is that Carlson’s seen the success of people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and he’s simply trying to emulate that. Pandering to right-wing racism, bigotry, and ignorance has proven to be very profitable for members of the conservative media.
On why businesses seem to be sucking up to Trump:
Now it’s hard to ask them, “Don’t take this thing from the president, or the president wants to do a photo op at your company and say ‘This company’s staying here because of me.’ It’s hard to ask them not to do it.
But I thought it was sort of disgraceful when the tax cut gets passed and they immediately have these bonuses. If the tax cut’s good policy, we’ll see that it was good policy. And it’s perfectly legitimate a year later for corporate leaders to say, ‘One of the things that contributed to our excellent returns this year was a more favorable tax structure which allows us to compete around the world. And we’re really thrilled that our workers have done better.’
Write $1,000 checks to people? Wasn’t the whole point of the tax cut to free up money for investment? I mean, the government can just write checks to people. It doesn’t have to go through a middleman, you know. Give ’em to everyone, not just the people who work for certain favored companies.
I found it slightly creepy — sucking up to Trump and to the Trump administration in hope of favors. This is the classic limited government, Hayek, et cetera, argument for why you don’t want protectionism. You don’t want government meddling and interfering everywhere, picking winners and picking companies.
These bonuses several companies have announced they were giving out were nothing more than PR moves to make themselves look good, distract Americans from the fact that the overwhelming majority of the billions many of them will be saving is still going into the pockets of the rich, and kiss up to Trump because he’s currently the “president.”
Kristol also went on to say that he disagrees with the ability for people to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to “hobnob” with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, pointing out that these companies are distorting the purpose of the free market by seeking favors from the government in order to do what they should already be doing in the first place.
There are several parts to the interview I’d recommend everyone check out.
Watch a few of his comments below via CNBC: