They don’t get as much media air as they used to, but there still are NeverTrumpers the media can dredge up to put on panel shows. I’m not just talking Bill Kristol, whose smug carcass is carted out every so often to prove how wrong he is about everything these days. Aside from the former editor of The Weekly Standard, there are plenty of people who can still get bookings based on the fact they identify as nominally Republican and have an anaphylactic reaction to the current president.
Some of these NeverTrumpers are more respectable than others. For instance, when you see Ana Navarro or Max Boot on a TV show, you get a distinct feeling you’re watching grift at work. However, there are people for whom NeverTrumpism is a moral decision — a poor one, I’d say, but still one motivated by the conscience.
Jonah Goldberg, formerly of National Review and currently of The Dispatch, is one of those individuals you suspect isn’t in it for the attention. If anything, he was far more influential before he decided President Donald Trump and everyone in the White House represented a cancer on conservatism.
That doesn’t make Goldberg any less febrile than Boot or Navarro, mind you. The motives may be different, but the moral hyperventilation is the same.
Take Goldberg’s appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” which was certainly a good way to wake up Sunday morning if you were out of Keurig cups and any other source of caffeine.
The subject was Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary who made news by strongly criticizing the Obama administration’s 2016 unmasking of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during her Friday media briefing.
“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace was decidedly unimpressed with her argument, noting there had been 16,000 unmaskings in the Trump White House “the year before last.”
That’s an issue for another day, however, because Goldberg managed to steal the show, such as it was, with his denunciation of McEnany.
Wow. On Fox News Sunday, Jonah Goldberg bashes Kayleigh McEnany’s work as press secretary as “indefensible and grotesque,” like a “Twitter troll” in cable-news combat. pic.twitter.com/p4O0H4Ljit
— NewsBusters (@newsbusters) May 24, 2020
Goldberg called McEnany’s news conference demeanor and material “indefensible and grotesque.”
“There’s this cliche in Washington that President Trump wants a Roy Cohn as attorney general,” Goldberg said.
“What Donald Trump wants in a press secretary is a Twitter troll who goes on attack, doesn’t actually care about doing the job they have, and instead wants to impress, really, an audience of one — and make another part of official Washington another one of these essentially cable news and Twitter gladiatorial arenas.”
Goldberg is especially sick of “cable news and Twitter gladiatorial arenas.” Which is why he was appearing on “Fox News Sunday” to deliver a televised Twitter thread and would later take to the social media platform to deliver tweets like this:
I hope she sees this bro. pic.twitter.com/ugh0Ob1A39
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) May 27, 2020
For those of you not versed in the lingo of the interwebs, “I hope she sees this bro” is a retort used to imply that someone is sticking up for a female in the hope said female will take notice of them.
Sebastian Gorka, a former White House adviser and a Trump surrogate, has been married for almost a quarter-century now. Goldberg’s going on social media to suggest Gorka is acting thirsty regarding the White House press secretary doesn’t necessarily make me think McEnany is the “Twitter troll” here.
Slagging Goldberg is a difficult task for me inasmuch as he was one of my formative influences as a conservative, particularly his columns in National Review. Most of his books are worth reading.
Goldberg was hardly the only conservative who lost his uplink to reality over Trump’s election. However, he was arguably the most intellectually capable of dealing rationally with the administration while still disagreeing with its trajectory.
Instead, we have this.
It’s not quite Max Boot material yet, but another four years of Trump and there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll see Goldberg on a CNN panel wearing a pink knit cap with cat ears on it.
The Flynn case is very much in the news, and whether you believe there’s an interconnected set of misdeeds known as “Obamagate,” the unmasking of Flynn and the subsequent steps the FBI took before the interview that led to him being charged aren’t issues that are going away.
Calling that part of the media briefing “indefensible and grotesque” is proof that, for some people, any sort of pushback on the media from a member of the Trump administration is an outrage in and of itself.
Whatever the Trump administration’s faults may be, pushing back on the media isn’t one of them. In fact, they should do it more often — something that McEnany will no doubt see to.
As for Goldberg, one hopes he recovers some sense of perspective quickly.
If this is “indefensible and grotesque” to him, he’s more out of touch with reality than I’d originally feared.
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