Another Sane Conservative Pushed Aside
Original blogger AllahPundit is leaving Hot Air after 16 years.
The man who has blogged for nearly two decades under the pseudonym AllahPundit has
fallen out of a window parted ways with Hot Air, where he has written 36,591 posts since being hired by founder Michelle Malkin 16 years ago. The current ownership had the decency to let him say goodbye.
[T]hank you to Jon Garthwaite and Townhall Media, who stuck with me even as the GOP changed and I declined to change with it. At this point I must be the only strident critic of Donald Trump serving a pro-Trump populist readership across all of conservative media. And that’s been true *for years.* Since 2020, at least.
It was possible only because of Townhall’s sufferance, a show of integrity for which they don’t get enough credit. But I think all of us knew it couldn’t last. When you hire someone to run your hot-dog stand and he starts telling the customers that hot dogs are bad for them, that relationship won’t endure. Even if he’s right about the hot dogs.
While I haven’t been a regular reader of the site for years, I’ve caught quite a few of his posts over the years and had indeed been surprised that he was still holding true to 2006-era principles against a tide of MAGA commenters and a paymaster eager to retain their patronage. It does indeed say something about Garthwaite and company that they let him go so long. Out of kindness, I suppose.
AP is kinder to his critics than I might be in his shoes:
Thank you to my critics — the earnest ones, who weren’t just axe-grinding because I wouldn’t join a cult. I am not dishonest but am frequently stupid and you were right to call me on my moments of stupidity. Accountability is good. The right needs more of it from its own side, urgently. If the average populist slobberer had a few like you in their ear, we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in.
Lastly, to those who spent the last seven years barking insults at me in the comments for not genuflecting to Trump, I’ll give you this: You’re not phonies. You believe what you say. We have that much in common. I respect honesty and paid you the respect of being honest. It would scandalize you to know how many of your heroes sound like you in public and like me in private. Audience capture has brought most of conservative media to ruin by making it predictable and shrill.
I hear Lincoln’s words in my head as I write that: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” Let’s hope. But let’s also be real: To a certain sort of Very Online Trumpist weirdo, having the right enemies is what politics is all about. To any who insist upon having me as one, I’m okay with it. Few badges of honor shine as brightly as the scorn of authoritarians.
As I and the other front pages have moved left while the GOP turned crazy, we went from a commentariat that was mostly Republican with a handful of liberals interested in what the sane conservatives had to say to one in which the commenters are mostly to our left and the few conservative commenters are indistinguishable from trolls.
I awoke to find five comments in moderation from a pseudonym I hadn’t seen before. Whether she was earnest and believed what she had to say, is a nut, or just spouting MAGA talking points for the lulz, I really can’t say. I sent them to the spam folder.
AP’s summation of the state of play is astute:
As to the state of the right.
Partisan media serves two masters, the truth and the cause. When they align, all is well. When they conflict, you choose. If you prioritize the truth, you’re a traitor; if you prioritize the cause, you’re a propagandist. One recent example of the latter is the left mocking Republicans who accepted PPP loans during the pandemic for opposing Biden’s student debt bailout. The differences between those two programs would be evident to a reasonably intelligent fourth-grader but the imperative to serve the cause by rationalizing Biden’s giveaway forced liberals to treat it as a smart own. I think some even talked themselves into believing it. Propagandists lie to others, then lie to themselves to justify propagating the original lie. Propaganda rots the brain, then the soul.
That’s one reason why, when I’ve been forced to choose, I preferred to be a traitor than a propagandist. Here’s another: What is the right’s “cause” at this point? What cause does the Republican Party presently serve? It has no meaningful policy agenda. It literally has no platform. The closest thing it has to a cause is justifying abuses of state power to own the libs and defending whatever Trump’s latest boorish or corrupt thought-fart happens to be. Imagine being a propagandist for a cause as impoverished as that. Many don’t need to imagine.
While I had long understood that the infotainment ecosystem had evolved to reward hyperbole and outrage, I didn’t fully realize how much performance was going on until the day after the 2006 midterms, when both Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt confessed that they had been lying to their listeners in carrying the water for Congressional leaders they believed were failing the cause. I observed,
Commentators, whether they be syndicated columnists, talk show hosts, or bloggers, build audiences by putting themselves on the line arguing for things that they believe in. Those who are perceived to merely be ranting for the sake of outrageousness, like Ann Coulter, are quickly dismissed as frauds.
It’s one thing to be a partisan and quite another to be a partisan hack. If a commentator believes that their party’s leaders are failing to live up to their self-proclaimed values, then it’s incumbent upon him to say so. That’s how you build credibility.
I’d say AP has done that, which is all the more laudable given that he had to know what was coming.
I agree with others who say that, fundamentally, the last six years have been a character test. Some conservatives became earnest converts to Trumpism, whatever that is. But too many who ditched their civic convictions did so for the most banal reasons, because there was something in it for them — profit, influence, proximity to power, the brainless tribalism required by audience capture. “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket,” Eric Hoffer wrote. We’ve all gotten to see who the racketeers are.
I would rather fail as a writer than succeed if success means being some demagogue’s footstool. To the extent my work at Hot Air has made that clear, I’m happy with it.
Never forget, it’s not the 30 percent of Trump worshipers within the party who brought the GOP to what it is. It’s the next 50 percent, the look-what-the-libs-made-me-do zombie partisans, who could have said no but didn’t. I said no. Put it on my tombstone.
Thankfully, he ain’t dead yet. He’s going to be writing for The Dispatch after a short respite under his own name.
UPDATE: The original version of this post stated definitively that AllahPundit had revealed himself as the scholar Marvin Olasky when in actuality it was a surmise compounded by a misreading.
AP declared in the post that he would be writing under his own name when he joined The Dispatch, so I went over to the site to see if they had made the announcement. There, the above-linked post from Jonah Goldberg began “Dear Reader (Especially the newest member of The Dispatch team, Allahpundit!)”
The link is to a Tweet from Olasky announcing the news, which I took to be a personal announcement. And it may well have been. It would certainly be curious to link to the single word “Allahpundit” and a Tweet from Olasky linking to the Hot Air announcement rather than to, well, the Hot Air announcement itself if it wasn’t a subtle hint that Olasky and Allahpundit were one and the same.
Nobody had pushed back on the surmise until a commenter noted that some significant biographical details didn’t add up but I’ve amended the post accordingly.
UPDATE II (Sept. 5): Olasky has assured me that he is not, in fact, AllahPundit’s secret identity. My apology for the error and I had further modified the post accordingly.