Free Markets, Free People

Jon Henke Challenges Rachel Maddow (Updated)

Here’s a very interesting clip with QandO’s founder, Jon Henke.

If you haven’t been following this, Jon, now at The Next Right which he helped co-found, has been at war with World Net Daily, claiming that the web site feeds the baser instincts of the right and distracts them from the more important issues. His call is for a boycott, not against WND, but those “respectable” institutions on the right, such as the Republican National Committee, who continue to associate and support WND.

Whether or not you agree, Jon’s point is that if credibility is an issue, and association with the fringe loony conspiracy theorists is a detriment to one’s credibility, then it is best, if you value your credibility, to distance yourself from that fringe.

Or said another way, if Van Jones can be found to be unacceptable for government service because he associated with and supported truthers, the very same credibility issue seems valid for those who associate with and support some fringe loony group on the right such as those who believe the Obama administration is planning to set up concentration camps for political dissidents.

It would be hard for anyone on the right to take anything Van Jones says seriously because his credibility is shot by such an association. How hard, then, is it to understand that when Michael Steel or the RNC say anything, their credibility is suspect because they associate and do business with an organization which claims that there are concentration camps being set up for political dissidents?

Anyway, what is most interesting about the clip is his challenge to Maddow at the end. She dodges it, suggesting that she’s really not that interested in doing what she claims to be interested in, but kudos to Jon for making it.

[HT: Liberty Papers]



Since very few of you (or anybody really) watch the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC, you probably missed last night’s segment featuring QandO founder Jon Henke. Jon recently started a bit of a dust-up on the right by taking on WorldNetDaily and those who sponsor the publication’s efforts:

This is just hideously embarrassing for the Right.

[T]he Web site says that the government is considering Nazi-like concentration camps for dissidents. Jerome Corsi, the author of “The Obama Nation,” an anti-Obama book, says that a proposal in Congress “appears designed to create the type of detention center that those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs fear could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany.”

In the 1960’s, William F. Buckley denounced the John Birch Society leadership for being “so far removed from common sense” and later said “We cannot allow the emblem of irresponsibility to attach to the conservative banner.”


I think it’s time to find out what conservative/libertarian organizations support WND through advertising, list rental or other commercial collaboration (email me if you know of any), and boycott any of those organizations that will not renounce any further support for WorldNetDaily.

Unsurprisingly, Jon has taken some grief (intermixed with some positive results) for his choice of target. On Maddow’s show, Jon summarizes the response as about one-third support for what he’s doing, one-third ambivalence, and one-third “no enemies on the right” reactions.

I guess I fall somewhat in the ambivalent crowd: I don’t disagree with Jon’s take on WND, but I also don’t think it’s worth challenging lest its profile be raised in importance. Frankly, everything negative that can be said about WND — e.g. promotes conspiracy theories, plays to the “fevered swamps”, detracts from the intellectual discourse regarding politics, etc. — can also be said about the New York Times, Washington Post and the Legacy Media. The difference, of course, is that far more people get their news from these traditional outlets than from WND. Indeed, if the MSM had not failed so miserably in holding government officials accountable (regardless of party), then I expect many in those fevered swamps would be less inclined to turn to oulets like WND for their “news”. As it stands, however, too many on the right see patently biased opinion pushed as incontrovertible fact and their reasonable critiques of lefty policy either ignored or ridiculed. It doesn’t take too long before they begin looking for a champion on the right, one that at least some of them have found in WND (which, I agree, is to their detriment).

I’m also somewhat disturbed by the notion that “elites” on the right “deserve” to be at the center of the discussion regarding the direction of the conservative/libertarian political movement. From where I sit, “deserve” has nothing to do with it, but instead those who advance the best ideas in line with conservative/libertarian principles, both through coherent thought and digestible delivery, will naturally get that coveted attention. What makes someone “elite” in this sense is his or her ability to connect with voters based on those conservative/libertarian ideas, not being really smart and/or educated at the correct places. That’s something that seems to have been lost recently amongst the self-designated elites on the right. And just as embattled righty voters feel abandoned by the media, in many ways I think they feel just as abandoned by their political leaders. They will fill that void with something if no one of substance steps up.

In any case, Jon does make a good point that when establishments such as the RNC throw their support behind conspiracy-traffickers like WND it hurts the right. Marginalization, therefore, is a good strategy and one that can be fairly easily obtained. Whether it helps the conservative/libertarian movement, however, really depends on what the “elites” offer up to replace the red meat readily devoured by the fever swamps. I’m all for logical, reasoned and effective discourse in the political battle, but on some level that discourse has to connect with how the average voter.

In short, while WND may be a problem for the right it is really a symptom and not a cause. Many voters think that they have no voice in political matters any more, since the MSM all but ignores them except to ridicule them, and their leaders are either absent at worst or ineffectual at best. Personally, I think that is one of the primary reasons underlying the enormous groundswell of support for Tea Parties and townhall dissenters — if nobody is going to say it for them, they’ll do it themselves. If we truly want to marginalize outlets like WND then, the right will need for real leaders to find their way to the forefront. Seeing how leaders such as Sarah Palin (who is the only one talking like Reagan these days) have been treated by the self-appointed leaders on the right, while fools such as Megan McCain and David Brooks have been feted, I honestly don’t know who that will be.

~ MichaelW


16 Responses to Jon Henke Challenges Rachel Maddow (Updated)

  • I have this on my DVR, and will be watching it in the next day or two…

    But I understand from a few folks on my twitter feed that he did well. I’m looking forward to skipping everything but his segment, and then deleting the hell outta the recording.

    I feel dirty for having recorded Maddow in the first place. 🙂

  • Jon makes a good argument. Interesting to put a face and voice to his name.
    I’ve always had as much problem with the fevered right as I have the fevered left.

    He came across very well, pity Maddow didn’t accept his, reasonable, challenge.

  • what is most interesting about the clip is his challenge to Maddow at the end.
    More Interesting that Media Matters deleted that part from the clip hosted on their website.

  • Whether or not you agree, Jon’s point is that if credibility is an issue, and association with the fringe loony conspiracy theorists is a detriment to one’s credibility, then it is best, if you value your credibility, to distance yourself from that fringe

    Is it really? The Left let theirs run wild for the past 8 years with virtually no denunciation and have given some of them keys to the castle like Van Jones.

    Exposing the loonie right should be Maddow’s job on her own. Jon Henke throwing them under the bus only give Maddow credibility which she will later use to paint all the right negatively, anyway.

    Let Maddow do all the work. Making her job easier won’t make her love you any more. Not going to happen figuratively anymore than it will happen literally.

  • She didn’t find him of interest. That would mean that none of his view struck her as unhinged. You know, like the “unhinged right” that got him to resign, primarily, by airing his OWN, unedited statements.

    She belongs to the left fringe.

    At least Glenn Beck also attacks the GOP.

  • Why did Jon Henke leave QandO? I remember reading his posts back in the day, and was just curious why he made the change.

    • Mostly change of job and then change of focus. He went to work for the Republicans (George Allen first and then Mitch McConnell) and got more into the Republican side of things. So a libertarian blog wasn’t exactly a clean fit. The focus of QandO has never been Republicans or their policies but more of a general libertarian approach to politics. The NextRight is more focused on the right as represented by Republicans – and it is there Jon makes his living, literally.

      Jon is still welcome to blog here should the mood strike him and he’s said he may avail himself of the opportunity at some point in the future. But if he does, it will most likely be posts about anything but politics.

  • Jon makes a nice appearance on the supposedly unbiased media…and they are only interested in his attacks on the unhinged right who took down Van Jones…I wonder when he will figure out that he won’t see much fair play from the MSM….

    • In fairness to Jon, I don’t think he has any illusions that he was brought on as anything more than a useful idiot. That’s why he saved his challenge to Maddow until the end.

  • He’s right and it should be done. Of course, that said- taking on the “fringe” right fits quite well into the narrative, and the fact that somewhere around 1/3rd of the left supports trutherism in some form just slips away into the ether…

  • Corsi swiftboats Jon, irony meters explode.

  • Heh.

    I hadn’t been over to World Net Daily for, I don’t know, must be a few years, at least. Joseph Farah, the head guy there, seems to have dug in his heels on the birth certificate story. He says it is not settled.

    A cynic would say that he is catering to an audience, but I’m not going to play the cynic on this one.

    I think that Farah is wrong. I always look for some really compelling piece of evidence whenever a story like this one comes along, and if I don’t see it, then I just throw it into the “nothing there” bin. A few months ago someone turned up Obama birth announcements in the local papers from Hawaii and that seemed to confirm to virtually everyone’s satisfaction that Obama was born in Hawaii.

    I didn’t keep looking for Farah’s reaction to that at WND, so I don’t know if he even offered a counterargument.

    It seems to me that this has long been a “nothing there” story and that it was effectively settled by the contemporary birth announcements in the local Hawaii papers.

    As for Henke: he should get on about his own business. If Farah and WND want to run this birth certificate story down to the last dog, so be it. It is most certainly not in the same league with the Truther phenomenon, not even close, and while I don’t recall if I have any further reservations about Farah, he is in fact looking to establish a few verifiable facts, one way or the other. I have no desire to boycott or support a boycott of him.

    I worry more about people who don’t understand that natural rights and natural law underlie our freedoms and the very concept of America itself.

  • I stopped going to WND regularly ages ago. Probably around the time other more credible, and less fringe sources came into existence. I put WND in the same boat as FreeRepublic. They often have some interesting ideas and articles, but separating the wheat from the chaff got harder as time passed on.

    As far as groups distancing oneself from WND, as most should know, advertising isn’t always a matter of picking which site your ad rotates on. Just look at some of the ads here on QandO. They haven’t always jived with leanings of the contributors here.

    I think it’s more important to distance oneself from their stances you disagree with, because on some things we’re going to agree and want their support.

    For instance, while I think it is curious that all of President Obama’s past writings and documentation are not available for public review, I’m not getting all hot and bothered about digging into it. I knew exactly the sort of politician Obama was and is. No amount of proof is going to change the true believers (on either side.) Actions speak louder then words, which is why we’re seeing moderates and independents walk back their support of Obama.