Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

The Many Faces of Charlie Sykes

He’s spent his whole career changing his views. So which should we believe?

By - Feb 7th, 2017 12:31 pm
Charlie Sykes. Photo by Michael Horne.

Charlie Sykes. Photo by Michael Horne.

The Los Angeles Times is the latest to tell the story of the “new” Charlie Sykes. The paper’s politics writer, Mark Barabak simply couldn’t resist the juicy storyline of a conservative talk show host renouncing Donald Trump and blaming right wing radio for his rise.

The New York Times, too, loves the idea of a right-winger’s recantation and has just run a second op ed by Sykes, just six weeks after an earlier one by him.

“There’s a fortune to be made going out speaking to liberals and telling them how evil and awful conservatives are,” conservative talker Mark Belling told the LA Times. However heartfelt the change, Belling added, “It’s undeniable that it has opened doors for him that otherwise would not have existed.”

Of course, if the change is simply a calculated career move, then there is no story for the national media. Barabak writes the standard “balanced” daily newspaper article, but ends it with Sykes on his stationery bike fuming at Trump’s inauguration speech. It’s just too good a story not to tell, though we only have Sykes’ word for it.

The reality is that Charlie Sykes has been changing his views, over and over, throughout his life, and has always been rewarded for it.

Charlie saw first hand the dramatic impact of a renunciation of one’s political views when his father Jay Sykes engaged in this. Jay Sykes had run liberal Democratic presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy’s campaign in 1968 and served on the board of the state ACLU. But about five years later he wrote an over-the-top essay for the Milwaukee Journal Sunday magazine — “A Liberal Recants” — harshly condemning liberalism.

At age 13, Charlie had helped his dad, working on the campaign for “Clean Gene,” and called the Democrat “one of the noblest, most honorable men in American politics” in a 2000 Milwaukee Magazine feature by Kurt Chandler. (It’s the best story ever done on Charlie’s personal side, a sad portrait of an isolated man with no friends.)

Charlie talked politics a lot with his dad and seems to have made the same change in political views. “I sensed that liberalism, instead of this free spirit, was becoming this rigid and constant moral hectoring,” he told Chandler. Sykes had converted to Catholicism at age 18 and joined a pro-life group (Jay Sykes’s essay was particularly hard on liberals for countenancing abortion.)

Charlie also had a pro-life girlfriend who got pregnant. A tough issue: Some might have considered an abortion. Charlie got married at age 20. The marriage lasted less than three years.

After getting his degree from UW-Milwaukee, as he once disclosed to me, he did some work for the conservative (anti-abortion, anti-sex-education) Catholic League, and worked as a reporter for a suburban weekly where he did stories critical of a proposed suburban school integration plan. So this was clearly a pretty conservative guy.

Yet after becoming a reporter for the city’s liberal paper, the Milwaukee Journal, Sykes did his first chameleon act, deftly changing colors. He came to be seen as liberal, all the more so after his sympathetic coverage of Democratic legislator Dennis Conta’s challenge to incumbent Mayor Henry Maier in 1980.

This was a time when Democrats dominated in city, county and state politics. And Charlie was always attracted to power. After joining the staff of Milwaukee Magazine in the 1980s and rising to editor, Charlie gleefully attacked conservatives like Judge Christ Seraphim and championed liberal Democrats like Gov. Tony Earl. He was close to some Democratic politicians and did a feature story on the best and worst legislators where he savaged many Republicans. This was the liberal Charlie Sykes — except that he voted for Ronald Reagan, he once told me.

Yet by 1990, Sykes had become a huge fan of Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, the man Sykes had lampooned in the pages of Milwaukee Magazine. Wisconsin’s power structure was moving to the right, and Sykes moved right along with it. He dubbed himself a “recovered liberal,” getting lots of publicity for his dramatic transformation, and soon connected to Belling, who helped Sykes land a job as a talk show host on WISN.

In less than a year, in 1993, Sykes jumped ship to WTMJ, with a show that touted him as “Standing Up for What’s Right,” an obvious steal of former mentor Belling’s slogan, “Standing Up For Milwaukee.” Sykes would jab Belling as a “paleo-conservative,” while describing himself as a more high-toned neoconservative, but over time Sykes became more and more paleo. You have to keep throwing red meat to talk radio listeners and a neocon diet is more like veal cordon bleu.

I can only imagine how hard it must have been for someone like Charlie, always deeply cynical and Mencken-like about the intelligence level of the great unwashed masses, spending day after day — for 24 years — stoking the anger and wing-nut conspiracy theories of his listeners.

But the paychecks were great. Between his radio gig and right wing dollars for his books from conservative groups, Sykes did very well. And he had the power to help elect and defeat candidates, and make friendships with heavyweights like Gov. Scott Walker, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the conservative Bradley Foundation’s president Mike Grebe.

By 2016, however, Sykes must have gotten sick of it all. Sources tell me he applied for the position of president of the Bradley Foundation after Grebe announced his resignation, and Sykes was never seriously considered for the job. After all he had done for the right-wing cause. That had to be infuriating. (And yes, there has always been some anger fueling Charlie’s views.)

So Sykes fell back on his well-practiced turn as the enlightened political turncoat who has suddenly — and ruefully, wittily, quotably — seen the error of his former ways. Rather than become king of the nation’s biggest conservative foundation, Sykes maneuvered to become the titan of talk radio traitors, getting coverage in the Politico and National Public Radio, and winning a position as contributor to MSNBC.

And all the stories about him and all the op eds he writes come with a neat apologia for the wrong he once did.

If he contributed to racism in Milwaukee, if he failed to open his show to more divergent viewpoints, if he helped convince listeners to reject facts published by the mainstream press, Sykes confessed to Barabak, “I got to own up to that.”

Or as he confesses in the New York Times, “I played a role… by hammering the mainstream media for its bias and double standards. But the price turned out to be far higher than I imagined. The cumulative effect of the attacks was to delegitimize those outlets and essentially destroy much of the right’s immunity to false information.”

These are fine and lofty phrases, but this is a man who was doing this for 24 years, and only now realizes the damage done? As former Wisconsin Democratic Chairman Mike Tate put it to Barabak, Sykes is like “a guy who slowly fed poison to his dog for 10 years then, when the dog dies of poisoning, throws up his hands and says, ‘My God, how did that happen?’”

It’s all just a little too easy. Saul became Paul on his way to Damascus, but Sykes has turned the road to conversion into fast-change freeway where he has a come-to-Jesus, struck-by-lightning transformation every decade or so. At some point you have to ask who is the real Charlie Sykes and why we should believe anything he says. No, I can’t see into Charlie’s heart (and I have doubts about his level of self-knowledge), but we can surely judge a man by his actions, and Charlie’s leave him with little credibility and lots of cynically-earned fame.

That makes him an expert, all right, and a particularly American one. F. Scott Fitzgerald said there were no second acts in American life, but Charlie Sykes could offer detailed lectures on how wrong the writer was. The more instructive American maxim about Sykes comes to us from the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the legend becomes fact… print the legend.”

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

52 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: The Many Faces of Charlie Sykes”

  1. “I sensed that liberalism, instead of this free spirit, was becoming this rigid and constant moral hectoring,” he told Chandler. Sykes had converted to Catholicism at age 18 and joined a pro-life group (Jay Sykes’s essay was particularly hard on liberals for countenancing abortion.)”

    Tied of liberals “moral hectoring” Sykes converted to Catholicism?

  2. Sue says:

    But Charlie has friends in Waukesha who won’t speak to him! Hasn’t he been punished enough?
    And no, Mr. Belling, Charlie is very, very unlikely to be able to make a killing in speaker’s fees from liberal groups. I can’t think of anyone who would be willing to pay to attend The Charlie Sykes Apology Tour.

  3. Vincent Hanna says:

    “There’s a fortune to be made going out speaking to liberals and telling them how evil and awful conservatives are,” conservative talker Mark Belling told the LA Times. However heartfelt the change, Belling added, “It’s undeniable that it has opened doors for him that otherwise would not have existed.”

    Exactly. See also every actor or actress whose career is in the tank and gets a new career by denouncing Hollywood and liberals (Stacy Dash, Scott Baio, etc…..).

  4. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Simple Sykes is for Sykes.
    So he became a Judas Goat and tried to throw the election, in Wis. to Hillary, so then his little cadre of sycophants followed him off the cliff.
    He used this to try to get a job on MSNBC, that Greta got, after he got canned from WTMJ.
    He embarrassed his buddies, who followed him off the cliff, before they realized what he was doing, now they are outcasts, the few of them. Bader, Blaska , Wigdernson, Wagner, Mitchell, Kittle etc.
    The Wisconsin Conservative Digest led the charge exposing the bunch of them.
    They really though that Wisconsinite were going to vote for some dippy guy from Utah and wasted their vote. Is there anything more stupid?

  5. Vincent Hanna says:

    “Is there anything more stupid?”

    Yes. People who actually believe Trump will drain the swamp. People who actually believe Trump will bring a flood of jobs back to the Rust Belt. People who actually believe Trump will completely rid the world of ISIS. One could go on forever.

    I’m sure they all tremble in fear over your Facebook page, with its links to racist nonsense and conspiracy theories.

  6. Willie Ray says:

    Charlie was fairly quick to figure out his first marriage wasn’t right for him. Why did it take him 24 years of conservative water carrying to figure out he was on the wrong tack.

    “Moral Hectoring”
    A Poem by Beleaguered Servant

    I see what this world needs
    And so I’m going in there strong:
    I’m gonna change some minds
    By telling people that they’re wrong

    I mean – that has worked in the past,
    Where lives are turned around
    By simple moral hectoring:
    Obnoxious – yet profound –

    Ok, maybe it hasn’t worked.
    But it will work this time:
    On top of being preachy
    Every sermon’s sure
    To rhyme

  7. Tom Strini says:

    I read with interest your reporting of Sykes’ failed bid to become president of The Bradley Foundation, one of the Grand Duchys of the evil Empire of the Right. To me, that explains a lot: Like most loud-mouth right-wingers, Sykes is given to massive vanity. Surely, he believed it was his turn. The Bradley board wounded it and cut off his avenue to enhanced influence and riches. So he’s taken the I’ll-show-them route; he must have piled up enough F.U. money to pull this off. (Contrary to the ever-delusional Belling, there’s no money in speaking to Sierra Club chapters and Planned Parenthood rallies.)

    Good for you, Charlie. Wrap up your mea-culpa tour, and please make it a farewell tour. Do spend your Golden Years in impenatrable obscurity.

  8. Greg says:

    By switching sides, Charlie will always be the go-to-guy on MSNBC when they want a “conservative” to rip other Republicans. He’ll always have a spot on some liberal show where he can be the token “conservative” who seems to agree more with the Dems.

  9. Matt says:

    One highly stupid problem for this fake analysis. Sykes was anti Trump before the election. He spoke about it openly. Contrary to what may be believed, that is not a particularly stupid position for one to take. Let us not forget that Trump is nuts. Even a conservative might be able to say that.

    This does not mean that Sykes is now a liberal. It means that he may have reckoned with the more dangerous aspects of the clown show he was running. This does not mean he is liberal, it does not mean he is a hypocrite, it does not mean he is a flim flam artist.

    And more fundamentally, Bruce has no evidence that it does. The fact that someone finds Trump repugnant is not evidence of enlightenment. The idea that someone is on an NPR radio show is not evidence of a grab for riches. And contrary to all the anti- Catholic bigotry being displayed here, some people find it a rather respectable religion and send their children to their schools. But sorry he didn’t have an abortion a thousand years ago. Lets blame his girlfriend and her despicable pro life views. And he married her instead? What a weirdo.

    Its all “a little too easy”. That’s bullshit. What was easy is writing this psychoanalytical babble without speaking to anyone, and then tossing in decades old events from a man’s life that have no bearing on the issues of the day. Some people might suggest that when a former foe joins your side you open your arms (Probably some stupid Catholic), I guess Bruce has another approach. But since we liberals got our asses handed to us by a narcissistic madman, maybe we should start welcoming any help we get.

  10. Scott Bader says:

    Wondering if you ever listened to his radio show for more than 2 minutes. I listened to him for 10 years and never heard him back down on his conservative principals, his last show was call ins from who’s who in WISCONSIN conservatives. I too was a liberal growing up turned quite conservative. I too was worried about Trump being a phony liberal and dangerous for the country. I (and many listeners) was delighted he was a #nevertrump guy. I too founded much easier to talk to liberals since we were against both candidates. That does not make me a turncoat, it makes me an American. Back off.

  11. Jason says:

    Bruce, you have a great content story here. Your description of us “talk radio listeners” disappoints me. Many of us “talk radio listeners” are content starved of local news. Your website is a valuable tool that allows many of us to decide what is real and what is fake news.

  12. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Jason, you would’ve found this 3 months ago at: Wiscosnin Conservative Digest on Facebook.

  13. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Poor Matt: “Best to be thought ignorant then open mouth”.
    Sykes knew his contract was not renewed, when new people took over. His Anti-trump was phony, as he,l cause he needed a new job and he wanted TV” MSNBC. Greta got the job.
    Sykes is for Sykes, His anti-Trump, anti Clarke was phony as hell, it was for Charley. he used Trump and Clarke to vault up, but he did not get over the bar.
    Poor Bruce doe not know this, he was studying his etchings.

  14. Many faces. Two-faced, was always my reckoning. He was not nice to others, dismissive, preeningly elitist. Plays well on A.M. radio. Not pleasant in person.

  15. Daddy2Girls says:

    Sykes didn’t abandon conservatism. Conservatives abandoned integrity. They sold their souls for the White House.

  16. mike drew says:

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that a young Charlie Sykes once ran for the legislature as a Democrat. When that didn’t work, he went for the big bucks attacking liberal causes and biting the Journal Communications hand that fed him for years.
    As usual, Murphy has this phony nailed.
    Sykes can’t persuade anyone in Wisconsin who knows him well of anything, especially that he has core beliefs that can’t be bought. There’s a name for this contemptible philosophy, opportunism. Wisconsinites with long memories will recall another onetime Democrat who chased fame and big bucks as a hate-spewing darling of the far right, Sen. Joe McCarthy. If the alcohol that drowned his conscience hadn’t taken him out, who knows, he too might have tried the same career move that Charlie Sykes is attempting.

  17. tim haering says:

    HI, Bruce. Nice column, apt allusions. I never listened to Sykes. I don’t do radio at all. But I identified strenuously with him as a NeverTrump-er. Me, too. But I soon realized that, like Michael Voris, Sykes was more interested in seeing himself on TV than in stopping Trump. He is more Lemony Snicket than Roddy Piper. In “Trump Lives,” Keith David will never put on the glasses. In this dark comedy, the real glasses are confused with several others, like handbags in “What’s Up, Doc?” and Piper has convinced so many people to put on the wrong pair, to his dismay and discredit, that he loses conviction. He just wears them, like Jake and Elwood “on a mission from God,” and tells us all what he sees. WTH, it’s a living.

  18. Mike says:

    I think a lot of conservatives like myself agree with Sykes’s positions on Trump and also agree that it sure seems like David Clarke has really gone off the deep end instead of just dipping his toe in it. That’s not the problem. I think the problem is people on the left are hungry to show that conservatives are nuts and Sykes is willing to give them the red meat on this. I think that fails to understand what happened in this last election.

    Trump was able to capture the Republican nomination because 17 people ran for the office on that side and many hung around too long allowing the electorate to be fractured. Had the Republicans had super delegates like the Democrats do, it is likely Trump never sniffs becoming the nominee. Had 17 Democrats run and if there was no super delegate there’s a really good chance Bernie Sanders is the nominee.

    I think people have also grown tired of the tactics used by the left. If you think we should do something about illegal immigration you are dubbed a racist. If you think people should go to certain bathrooms you are a luddite. If you think life begins at conception you are a religious zealot. There’s no room for debate anymore and people with these views get hammered on non-political websites now and by celebrities and are fed up with it. No one needs to hear rich guy Bruce Springsteen lecture people about the man.

    Finally, the left needs to come up with an economic message that consists of more than:

    – rich people are bad and screwing you
    – Equal pay
    – $15 an hour minimum wage

    The rise of Trump doesn’t mean conservatives lost their way although that will be the convenient excuse and one that Charlie will gleefully exploit.

  19. fightingbobfan says:

    Bruce, I believe that prior to him getting into right wing talk radio he was fired by Milwaukee Maganize by something he did to irritate Betty Quadracci.

  20. fightingbobfan says:

    Other than the Honor Flights, what has Charlie Sykes done that was positive for Milwaukee? Seems to me he basically spent 24 years running the place down to advance a baseless political agenda.

  21. The naked emperor decides to buy clothes. Who speaks for his followers now? Does this make him unable to lead the despicable’s? So many questions

  22. Daddy2Girls says:

    I’m far less interested in whether Sykes is a phony now or before than whether he raises some valid questions about conservatism and the media today. Even this discussion is given over to a variety of conspiracy theories about the man rather than considering whether he has a point.

  23. Vincent Hanna says:

    Mike are you honestly saying conservatives have played no role in our hyper-partisan times? That we can’t debate in a civil manner anymore has nothing to do with them? What about the tactics of the right? Hoping Obama fails. The Birther movement. And of course the right is fine with famous people lecturing others as long as they are conservative and on Fox News. You are being, at best, highly disingenuous.

  24. Mike Bark says:


    I do not think they played as much of a role as the liberal side has. The birthers were called out as crackpots by most mainstream conservatives. Plus conservatives do not have all that many celebrities. It seems that once they speak out their career is pretty much over. The shutting down of speech is mostly coming from the left side.

  25. blurondo says:

    The talking heads are now and always have been entertainers. All entertainers love the challenge of a new role. If the right offer is made, each of them is poised and capable of doing a 180 and following the money.

  26. Vincent Hanna says:

    You are wrong Mike. Birtherism went mainstream and was not limited to the fringe or conspiracy sites. Our president is a birther! Have you forgotten that? Many elected officials were birthers. You are engaging in revisionist history and you have selective partisan outrage. It denies logic and reason to claim that conservatives haven’t significantly contributed to the lack of civil discourse. In addition to birtherism, remember when a Republican yelled “you lie!” at the State of the Union? Remember when prominent GOP legislators got together and declared that they would oppose Obama no matter what, even on areas where they might agree with him? I could go on and on.

    Jon Voight continues to work. Mel Gibson is nominated for an Oscar. Vince Vaughn gets work regularly. Clint Eastwood. Again I could go on and on. Yet conservatives have no problem when those celebrities lecture. Have you not read about conservatives demanding safe spaces on college campuses? It’s happening.

    You are seeing everything through a highly partisan lens and denying reality Mike.

  27. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Birthers were never really anything except a curiosity, cause it did not matter where he was born, as his mother was an American.
    As for David Clarke. Crime, murders, car jackings, theft, shootings, human trafficking, heroin, has blown up under the white, male, liberal, racists that run Milwaukee.
    Clarke and Frankovis are the only ones pointing that out and offering answers. That is why he is hated, he tok over th House of Corrections when it was a disaster mad e it work then political Weenie, Abele pulled a political move. Dept. of Corrections just audited jail, and found it to be one of the best in the country.
    Clarke has spoken up all across the country, inner city and Frankovis wrote book on how he brought down crime in Districts 2,3 and 5.

  28. Daddy2Girls says:

    I’m far less interested in Charlie Sykes’ motives than in whether he has a point about conservative media. Just looking at some of the comments above, it’s clear to me that he does. There’s an echo chamber problem, seasoned with a lot of misinformation, that is pervasive throughout conservative media sources. There simply isn’t a comparable problem on “the left”, however you define it.

    Notice how easily Sykes has been read out of the movement by many who voraciously consumed his output over the last 25 years. He essentially gave them Scott Walker and Act 10, but NOW he’s the enemy.

  29. Vincent Hanna says:

    More revisionist history WCD. In 2009 there were 17 members of Congress who were birthers. Over a two-month period in 2011 Fox News had more than 50 segments devoted to it. More than 10 states debated a birther bill. Arizona passed a birther bill. Also in 2011, 45% of Republicans said Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. You can’t argue that the birther nonsense didn’t go mainstream and that it didn’t do severe damage to civil discourse. If you buy that you’re peddling alternative facts.

  30. happyjack27 says:

    “Birthers were never really anything except a curiosity, cause it did not matter where he was born, as his mother was an American.”

    Haha! Revisionist much?!?

    Keep those “alternative facts” coming. I dare say they’re amusing!

  31. daniel golden says:

    What of Charlie’s other personal kerfuffles? His unexplained divorce from Diane, his selective refusal to criticize Scott Walker,, his refusal for 24 years to ever do a retraction or correction no matter how false the garbage he spewed turned out to be? Charlie is an ethical vacuum whose integrity would fit in a flea’s navel..

  32. Mark Kelderman says:

    Give him credit; no matter how much he changes his allegiances, he consistently maintains his disdain for humanity and truth.

  33. happyjack27 says:

    “Give him credit; no matter how much he changes his allegiances, he consistently maintains his disdain for humanity and truth.”

    There is something truly impressive about how some people’s seemingly unexhaustible power to hold a bulwark
    of unreasonable – even crazy ideas – against a veritable deluge of evidence and common sense.

    The feat is truly Herculean. One pictures Atlas holding the world up — only instead it’s a common man keeping any reality from entering their brain.

    The amount of entropy a lifeform must export in order to maintain such a far-from-equilibrium state is… difficult to fathom. It’s as if we’d need to construct a whole new system of measurement just for this special case.

  34. happyjack27 says:

    Personally, I have had the misfortune of having to listen to conservative talk radio for more than 2 minutes on numerous occasions, riding shotgun with conservative friends.

    The amount of vitroil, idiocy, and just plain wrong things, that come out of their mouth in the span of a sentence…
    I feel my body would have shut down on it’s own volition out of despair before the first year was out.

  35. fightingbobfan says:

    1) What do Charlie Sykes and Donald Trump have in common? Two more marriages than Bill Clinton.

    2) Sadly since both turned conservative, Dennis Miller and David Zucker stopped being funny.

    3) WCD — please stop with that mindless but often parroted talking point about cities run by Democratic party mayors are riddled with poverty. Dallas has a Democrat. Minneapolis has a Democrat mayor. Houston has a Democrat Mayor. San Francisco has a Democrat mayor. And Madison has a Democrat mayor. Big cities tend to vote Democrat because minorities who have been given disrespect by the party of George Lincoln Rockwell and because a lot of open minded people tend to live in big cities.

    Politicians who handle government in Madison should not be afraid to run outstate. The slogan would be “You want some of this? I’ll do for your area like I did for Madison.”

  36. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Fighting Bpb was a Republican. Republicans built this state. The Left, in the few areas where they have not been tossed out has done terrible job in cities: Chciago, Baltimore, Gary and on.
    The white, male ,liberal, racists ,that run Milwaukee have taken it down his since John Norquist left quite badly.

  37. Daddy2Girls says:

    Bob LaFollette has about as much in common with modern day Republicans as Dom Perignon has with Boone’s Farm.

  38. Marck says:

    I laughed when this closeted Communist was fired from his WTMJ radio gig. And to think he’s now distrusted by both sides of the political spectrum–boo hoo! No MSNBC gig for you, Chuck. You certainly earned the nomenclature “Psycho” Sykes for insulting our great toupeed president.

  39. Vincent Hanna says:

    For an old man who claims to be a political expert, it’s odd that you don’t understand the difference between party and ideology.

  40. Patrick says:

    Charlie once converted to Catholicism? It sounds he’s had a rather up and down life in more than a few ways. I pray that he comes home and partakes in the sacraments. I pray for your re conversion Charlie, like many of our other fallen away Catholics including at least one other big talk personality in the area.

  41. John Kishline says:

    Well done, Bruce. My bigoted Grandfather defined an ‘expert’ as a son of a bitch 50 miles from home. Charley’s problem is that he has no home, other than an elusive spotlight.

  42. John says:

    I’m surprised that nobody mentioned the lure of regular gigs with outlets like MSNBC caused Charlie to come clean overnight. He announced his WTMJ retirement in the fall and not long after that, there he was on MSNBC where I see him almost nightly. Money talks, just like Charlie

  43. fightingbobfan says:

    The embrace of Charlie Sykes by progressives outside of Milwaukee goes to show that there are times when our side is not no smart after all.

  44. Sue says:

    John – he’s gunning for Morning Joe’s spot.
    fightingbobfan – I’ve had to be pretty emphatic with out-of-staters on this. Charlie still hates teachers, he still hates Milwaukee (or certain parts of it), and he will never, ever be the go-to guy for reasoned, compassionate discourse.
    There’s nothing beneath the surface of this mea culpa act.

  45. Virginia says:

    Sue, that makes sense about a Morning Joe slot. This story in the Cap TImes says Sykes already had lined up multi-year contracts with MSNBC and NBC.

    It’s weird to see seemingly smart progressives like Lawrence O’Donnell apparently bamboozled by wiley “repentant” Charlie. I guess it’s all just “entertainment” after all.

    Some say there’s nothing to tie Charlie to his MKE suburb. But the good news is that he can do far less harm as a tiny fish in that great big pond. He won’t be making no more political careers through his endless, shameless shilling.

  46. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Charlie does not hate or like anyone, except himself. Have followed him for years. Charlie is for Charliei, look it up. He is class A phony, known that for years. That is why I seldom went on his show.

  47. Thomas says:

    Some disillusioned conservatives who have served on MSNBC panels appear to have become more liberal: more generous and open-minded in the process. Michael Steele and Steve Smith come to mind. Better company could help Charlie get the groove back that made him a thoughtful editor of “Mke magazine” in the 1980’s. Then again, he could be irreparably damaged goods. He did a lot of damage to political dialogue in his 24 years as a faux recovering liberal.

  48. Thomas says:

    Som disillusioned Republicans who have worked as talking heads on MSNBC appear to have become more liberal in the process: more generous and open-minded. Michael Steel and Steve Smith come to mind. There could be hope for Charlie if he continues to keep better company. Then again, CS did so much damage to political dialogue in his years with WTMJ that he could be irreparably damaged goods. It is not likely that he will get the groove back that he had when he edited “Milwaukee” magazine in the 1980’s.

  49. happyjack27 says:

    After reading the following article, I could only think: “Who are you, and what have you done with the real Charlie Sykes?”

  50. marymorstan says:

    I listened to Charlie for over a decade; after his first 10 years or so, he became lazy. He’d still skim the newspapers, but he lapsed into cliches (“posing for holy cards,” using the “cricket” sound for silent responses from officials) and grew very comfortable with his own analyses. It got so bad that I could predict what he’d say, what words he’d use before he said them. He just became boring.

  51. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    No one commentss about charley being canned??/

  52. Daddy3Girls says:

    What is he – cling peaches?

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