Journalist, author, and three-time presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan reminisced about his half-century in journalism Thursday night, while lamenting what he described as the decline of the "e pluribus unum" (out of many, one) ethos in America. Returning to the state where he won the opening primary in the 1996 presidential campaign, Buchanan told an audience in Concord, New Hampshire that a growing factionalism is sundering the foundations of national unity.
"Are we still one nation indivisible or are we permanently Red State America and Blue State America?" asked Buchanan, the keynote speaker at the First Amendment Awards ceremony of the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. The breakdown is particularly troublesome for the "red state," or Republican faction, he said, since Republican voters are mostly Christians of European descent, a shrinking percentage of the American population. Newer waves of immigrants and their descendants, along with African-Americans, vote consistently Democratic, he said, noting that 18 states have voted Democratic in the last six consecutive elections. Buchanan dwelt on the role of the news media, particularly the TV networks, in what he described as "the fragmentation of American society."
Television "killed the evening newspapers," he said, recalling that by the late 1960s two-thirds of the American people were relying on television as their main source of news. Having gone to work writing editorials for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat shortly after graduating from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1962, Buchanan recalled that in the autumn of that year, former Vice President Richard Nixon, defeated as a candidate for governor of California, bitterly assured members of the state and national press corps they wouldn't "have Nixon to kick around anymore." Two years later, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, speaking at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, ignited a spontaneous demonstration of anger among the delegates toward the press corps when he spoke of "sensation-seeking columnists and commentators." The conservative war against the "liberal bias" of the major news media was underway.
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Photo of Pat Buchanan in his 1996 campaign for the Republican nomination for president: AP Images