Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Gasp, Sykes Recants on Rojo

Stop the presses! Charlie Sykes has changed his view of Senator Ron Johnson.

By - Dec 16th, 2020 02:23 pm
Charlie Sykes. Photo by Steven Potter.

Charlie Sykes. Photo by Steven Potter.

It hardly seems like news that another commentator has jumped on the “Ron Johnson is crazy” bandwagon. 

Did I say bandwagon? It’s more like a five-mile-long caravan of every politico, reporter, blogger and water-cooler wag in the land. It’s nearly unanimous: Wisconsin’s senior U.S. Senator is way off the reservation and wandering in an endless canyon of conspiracy theories.  

At a time when the Electoral College has officially chosen Joe Biden president, when the vast majority of Republican officials have finally conceded the victory, when the last major international hold-out, Trump buddy Vladimir Putin, has congratulated Biden, Ron Johnson is out to contest the results. As chairman of the powerful Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, he is now investigating what he calls “election irregularities” in the 2020 campaign.

Johnson isn’t just in disagreement with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has congratulated Biden and called on his congressional colleagues to refrain from any more challenges to the presidential election. Johnson is also in disagreement with the one official closest to him: U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, who has said he knew and accepted the fact that Joe Biden had won.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who joined the RoJo-is-deluded caravan some time ago, told the Washington Post he had urged that the hearing not take place. “I don’t think we have the resources to do investigations, nor do we have the constitutional mandate to make judicial decisions,” Romney said. “So, I don’t see the purpose of a hearing other than to stir up controversy.”

Lighten up, Mitt. There’s always time to entertain unproven conspiracies if you’re Ron Johnson. He did everything he could to play down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and has instead used his committee to peddle unproven theories that Ukraine was somehow at fault. He peddled “information that U.S. federal law enforcement officials had essentially identified as Kremlin-sourced disinformation,” the Post noted and used this unproven allegations to attack Joe Biden. He convened his committee to promote the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a remedy for COVID-19 long after even Donald Trump had given up on this disproven theory and followed that up with a hearing featuring all kinds of fringe medical “experts” on the pandemic, including a vaccine opponent, an outspoken critic of masking and social distancing, and doctors who have promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine. And those are just the highlights. 

So it should be a good sign that conservative Charlie Sykes has joined the anti-Rojo brigade. Except…

There have been so many of these recantations by Sykes. He has spent his whole career changing his views, and winning media coverage for it. And his change of heart on Johnson has once again done the trick, winning Sykes coverage, both in the Post story and a story on Johnson by Politico.

Sykes then amplified the attention, linking to the Post story on Twitter and tweeting this additional comment: “Over the last few years, I’ve gotten used to disappointment. But this one stings more than usual, because I really believed RonJon would follow in Wisconsin’s rich senatorial tradition. But I thought he would be more like William Proxmire than Joe McCarthy.”

Ah yes, the disappointed seeker of wise statesmen to lead this country to greatness. Charlie’s quote suggests a philosopher on Mount Olympus weighing the mortal consequences, pondering who best to carry the democratic torch. When in reality he was a conservative talk show host who only supported Republicans and led campaigns against GOP politicians who dared to think for themselves, deriding them as RINOs. He supported Johnson because he wanted someone to defeat Democrat Russ Feingold, who was an infinitely better senator than Johnson, or for that matter William Proxmire. 

But it’s now dawned on Charlie, ten years later, that he was mistaken. And perhaps, too, that the media might find his change of heart newsworthy. 

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8 thoughts on “Back in the News: Gasp, Sykes Recants on Rojo”

  1. Dan Wilson says:

    So a whore CAN join the church and preach the sermon.

  2. LFillingham says:

    Good article, but please don’t say “Off the reservation”:

    Off the reservation

    Experts say this phrase, frequently used during the 19th and 20th centuries in American politics, refers to Native Americans who were forced into treaties that limited their mobility by placing them on reservations, so off the reservation would suggest they were placing themselves outside their allowed their legal, or social, parameters.

    In its earliest evidence, experts explain that this phrase dealt with policing, killing and colonizing Native Americans and removing them from their native land.

    “The phrase has very offensive roots as the Native American’s who were found ‘off the reservation’ were killed,” Kelly explained.

    However, in modern politics there has been recognition that term is racially offensive.

    For example, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton netted backlash in 2016 for using the phrase in an interview with CNN when she said, “I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak.” Shortly after, Clinton’s campaign political director Amanda Renteria took to Twitter to walk back Clinton’s statement, tweeting, “Divisive language has no place in our politics.”

  3. Mingus says:

    Charlie when he had his talk show was consistently as vicious as Donald Trump is on Twitter. Is his “Epiphany” on turning away from his conservative viewpoints a decision based on ideology or self-promotion?

  4. katesi4 says:

    I was going to comment the exact same as LFillingham. It would be a power move on your part, Mr. Murphy, to edit out “off the reservation.” Thank you in advance!

  5. gerrybroderick says:

    Bravo, Bruce! For reminding us of all of Charlie’s The Camellion’s past efforts to fertilize the fecund fields for the Trumpian hoards. Someone should tell MSNBC that they are paying Goebbels to critique Hitler.

  6. Micaela Levine says:

    I am very glad you wrote about this. I was so angry when The New York Times gave Charlie front page space in their Sunday editorial section ( 12/15/16, “Where the Right Went Wrong”), that I wrote to the editor giving my Wisconsin point of view of Charlie, his hypocrisy, and the damage he has done to this state. The Times didn’t publish it. I think they were too grateful to have Charlie, former right-wing talk show host, being a “born again” statesman and writing anti-Trump editorials. I get it, but I think the Times should have recognized just how many times Charlie has been born again (and again), all to his financial benefit.

  7. chico21 says:

    Just as Trump’s genius is getting attention and leading the news cycle, Sykes’ genius is posing as a moral compass, shifting throughout his career to whatever he views as the most marketable position. He’s devoid of any core moral base other than a narcissism so great that he looks in the mirror every morning and fails to see a hypocrite. Remind you of anyone?

  8. Dixie and Rick Deines says:

    Excellent article with a faux pas that led to an informative comment on the ill-advised use of ‘off the reservation.’ I see this as a good example of open and safe conversation in which we first ask the intent of the writer without simply dismissing it because of who wrote it or some error we identify. Thanks to everyone for contributing into a ‘what’s worthy about this?’ approach. I’m challenged by this to look more deeply into the ‘why’ of Charlie Sykes shifts. I may have dismissed him too quickly in his opinions that clearly were not mine. And I admit I accepted his ‘conversation’ too easily.

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