Saturday, July 22, 2017

On the MRC reversing course on giving Hannity the Buckley Award

A good move:

Fox News Channel star anchor Sean Hannity will no longer receive the conservative Media Research Center's William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence at its September 21 gala, sources familiar with the situation tell CNN.

Buckley, the founder of the National Review, who died in 2008, was hailed in his day as "arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States." Giving an award in his name to Hannity -- a pugnacious talk radio host who has shared conspiracy theories on his popular cable news show -- had caused hand wringing among some conservatives. 
It also caused distress among Buckley's family -- in particular his only child, best-selling author Christopher Buckley. 
A source familiar with the situation tells CNN that Christopher Buckley "expressed great dismay" at the announcement that the award would go to Hannity, who has spent a great deal of time insulting conservative intellectuals on Twitter, particularly since he became a strong supporter of Donald Trump.
Buckley, sources say, called the Media Research Center and expressed his disapproval. Sources tell CNN that the MRC acquiesced and will no longer give the award to him. Hannity has since been removed from the gala website. 
Sources tell CNN that the MRC leadership discussed ways to allow Hannity to save face by acting as if a scheduling conflict would prevent him from accepting the award. 
"It's my understanding there was a scheduling conflict," Ryan Moy, a spokesman for the MRC, told CNN. 
A source familiar with the situation tells CNN that Christopher Buckley said of the concocted scheduling excuse: "perhaps Mr. Hannity has been offered the Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Award on the same evening and had decided to leverage upwards." 
The MRC's founder, Brent Bozell, is William F. Buckley's nephew. 
Through a Fox News Channel spokesperson, Hannity said he is unable to attend the event that night and be there in person to accept the award. 
After the initial announcement by MRC that Hannity would receive the media award, many conservative writers and intellectuals expressed dismay. Perhaps most notably, conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens wrote an entire column about it, decrying the move as evidence of an overall trend towards anti-intellectualism among the conservative movement. 
Hannity has since taken to heaping vituperation amply laced with the Trumpian phrase "fake news" on Stephens as well as Jake Tapper on Twitter. Probably others as well.

I've never liked Hannity. I've always considered him a poor polemicist. He relies on memorized talking points, he interrupts callers and guests, and lapses into trite characterizations ("How come you and your liberal friends never . . . "). He is utterly lacking in imagination. I remember when he mourned the loss of his 15-year-old dog Snowball on his radio show, I thought, he strikes me as the kind of guy who'd name a dog "Snowball."

And since Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower two years ago, jumping into the political fray and upending the process thereby, Hannity has been the face of the phenomenon's most disturbing aspects.

I'm running short on time, so I can't expand the scope of this post, but a larger point is brewing. I think about Chris Buskirk's absolutely stupid column at The Journal of American Greatness (one of those venues, like American Affairs, that is on the fool's errand of trying to impart some intellectual coherence to the Trump phenomenon) waxing rhapsodic over Kid Rock's possible Senate run, and Kurt Schlichter's equally stupid Townhall column about the same thing. There is something dangerous going on here, an attempt to vilify intellectual rigor and the prioritization of clarity.

As I say, I have to go now, but at least I've set the table.

Conservatism is a real thing. Trying to define, let alone cultivate, some kind of Trumpism, is akin to nailing Jell-o to the wall.

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