On the July 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report, anchor Bret Baier welcomed Pat Buchanan to his “all-star panel” with Fox News contributors Juan Williams and Charles Krauthammer. Buchanan's appearance with Krauthammer comes with an acrimonious history -- Krauthammer has long been one of Buchanan's harshest critics, having charged that he holds a “fascist world view”; appeals to prejudice and bigotry; “fan[s] hatred for Jews”; and has been “getting away” with his repugnant views.
Buchanan famously left MSNBC in the midst of controversy surrounding his book Suicide Of A Superpower and his lengthy history of racially insensitive, anti-Semitic, and homophobic remarks. Following his departure, Buchanan has found a platform on Fox News, where he's regularly appeared on Fox News' Hannity. Yesterday was his first appearance on Special Report, Fox's flagship political program, since his departure.
The appearance may not have been a welcome sight for Krauthammer, the show's most frequent panelist and a Buchanan critic for decades. More recently, in a December appearance on Special Report, Krauthammer suggested he agreed with William Buckley's critique that Buchanan's rhetoric was unacceptable in the conservative movement.
In a 1992 column, Krauthammer sharply criticized Buchanan for his “fascistic” instincts and “fascist world view.” Krauthammer added that Buchanan's penchant for fascism manifests itself with his writing on the Holocaust: “He wishes the Holocaust would go away. Which is why he finds himself, perhaps even despite himself, moved to debunk Treblinka, demean survivors (as given to 'group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics'), and defend those who were part of the genocide machine.” Krauthammer succinctly concluded: “The man is a menace, but no great mystery.”
During a February 1996 interview with NPR (via Nexis), in the wake of a scandal hitting then-presidential candidate Buchanan for “connections between one of Buchanan's top campaign officials and militia groups and white supremacists,” Krauthammer said Buchanan has a “dark and extreme kind of philosophy”:
KRAUTHAMMER: I think this is really just a symptom. He can have the guy step down, which he's done, and then distance himself, but the issue isn't whether the guy's still on Buchanan's staff, it's that this is a symptom of something. And it's a symptom of the sort of the dark and extreme kind of philosophy that Buchanan espouses, and it's simply very natural that he would attract someone like this to his campaign.
During an August 1996 appearance on WJLA's Inside Washington (via Nexis), Krauthammer praised Jack Kemp's appeal to conservatives by contrasting it with the “narrowness and the bigotry of Buchananism”:
KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think he does bring to [then-Republican presidential candidate Bob] Dole a part of the party that Dole didn't appeal to. And it's very interesting how he unites the Republicans, because Kemp has a tremendous appeal to the Buchanan wing. He's pro-life and he's the darling of the social conservatives. And yet he refutes resolutely the sort of narrowness and the bigotry of Buchananism. So he appeals to Buchanan's constituency while, for example, Kemp opposed Proposition 187 on immigration. So he has this remarkable appeal to the hard right of the Republicans, at the same time he has this inclusiveness in his outreach to women and minorities which is rare among Republicans.
In 1999, Krauthammer wrote that Buchanan's “reputation for principle is an elaborate fraud” and whose “technique is to convey raw prejudice to his followers, who understand his code, then go on respectable media, smile and pretend he never meant it. His trademark is the wink. The wink is interpreted by his friends in mainstream media as 'I'm fooling the mob.' It is understood by the mob as 'I'm fooling the pointy-heads.'”
In a separate 1999 column, Krauthammer wrote that “Buchanan goes around fanning hatred for Jews with his sly and not so sly allusions to Jewish power, Jewish influence, Jewish disloyalty.”
Reporter Jake Tapper -- then with Salon -- wrote a piece in 1999 criticizing “spineless Republican rivals and the political punditocracy” for failing to call out Buchanan on his “racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic” throughout this career in the media and politics. Tapper noted that Krauthammer is “one of the few members of the news media willing to speak out about Buchanan's bigotry.”
“There's no doubt he makes subliminal appeals to prejudice ... He tries to be subtle, the comments are not direct appeals to prejudice, which is one of the reasons he gets away with it,” Krauthammer told Tapper.
“The interesting thing is how he can say these things and still be considered a national figure,” Krauthammer says. “Even the 'chopsticks' line. If any other politician made that comment, he would have to spend a week apologizing. It's a real puzzle; I don't understand why he gets away with it.”
Krauthammer mentioned Buchanan on the December 23, 2011, edition of Special Report during a discussion of Republican criticism of Ron Paul. Krauthammer praised the late William F. Buckley for helping “make the [conservative] movement respectable, national, and ultimately in control of the presidency in the 1980s.” Krauthammer then mentioned Buckley's criticism of Buchanan:
KRAUTHAMMER: Remember that Buckley ran out Pat Buchanan [in the] early '90s in an article he wrote in which he said that his statements had been at least at the edge of anti-Semitism and were unacceptable.
Though Buchanan appears to have been on his best behavior in his Special Report appearance, discussing news-of-the-day topics such as the economy and Mitt Romney's NAACP speech, there's little evidence he's shied away from his arsenal of bigoted rhetoric in recent years (see here). Buchanan courted controversy this past weekend on The McLaughlin Group when he said “let's hope” the country doesn't elect a female president until “2040 or 2050” (then claimed he's joking -- though Buchanan's history suggests he doesn't hold high regard for gender equality).