Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Sykes Is No Longer a Republican

National Public Radio stands corrected. He is not -- roll the drums -- a Republican any more.

By - Feb 9th, 2021 06:51 pm
Charlie Sykes. Photo by Steven Potter.

Charlie Sykes. Photo by Steven Potter.

Yesterday Rachel Martin of National Public Radio was interviewing Charlie Sykes on Morning Edition for his thoughts on current state of the Republican Party. Sykes has won national fame as a anti-Trump Republican, who seemed the perfect guy to talk about the party’s handling of the impeachment trial and the refusal of Republican House members to vote for removing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene‘s committee assignments despite her calling for the execution of Democratic politicians. Juicy stuff to chew on.

“As a Republican, Charlie, where do you see the middle anymore?” Martin asked.

Sykes began his answer with this: “Well, I don’t consider myself a Republican anymore.”

Martin hadn’t seen that coming. It kind of undercut the idea of Sykes as a GOP diagnostician. Yet she recovered, and in her wrap-up of the interview described Sykes as a “former Republican, we should say – apologies for that. Charlie.”

You can’t blame Martin for not knowing of Sykes’ latest change. Only Charlie would know how many times he has switched parties and ideologies. Here is the short version of the many switches I was able to document: Sykes was Democrat and supporter of liberal Eugene McCarthy in his teens, converted to Catholic and became a pro-life conservative in college, then became a liberal after getting his journalism degree and going to work for the Milwaukee Journal. He was seen as a Democrat and liberal in his years as Milwaukee Magazine editor in the 1980s, back when the state’s power structure was dominated by Democrats.

Yet by 1990, he 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 Mark Belling, who helped Sykes land a job as a right wing talk show host on WISN, which in turn helped him get the coveted morning talk show at WTMJ.

This dramatic public recantation worked once, so why not again and simply recant your recantation? After 24 years of big paychecks as a talk radio host and from conservative groups for books he wrote, Sykes became a never-Trumper just before quitting the job and soon began promoting the new, new Sykes. That would be the man who suddenly realized how destructive talk radio was and was driven to confess the error of his ways. Sykes become the titan of talk radio traitors, getting coverage from countless publications for his trashing of conservatives, winning a position as contributor to MSNBC and becoming a writer and editor-at-large for the anti-Trump conservative publication The Bulwark. Meanwhile, he has continued to make dramatic discoveries of where he went wrong, renouncing his old buddy, former Sheriff David Clarke or turning against an old favorite like Senator Ron Johnson. Are there still more recantations to come? Only Charlie knows.

Sykes is undeniably good as both a commentator and writer, but surely most talented at positioning himself strategically for maximum media exposure. Thus he is no longer a Republican, but hasn’t yet disclosed what he’s now become: a Libertarian, an Independent, a Whig? If the Republican Party is imploding, as some believe, Sykes has left himself room to move further left and become a Democrat once again. Wouldn’t that be newsworthy?

In his own way, one that Thomas More would find unfathomable, Charlie Sykes is truly a Man for All Seasons.

13 thoughts on “Back in the News: Sykes Is No Longer a Republican”

  1. Swblackwood says:

    Or maybe, he’s now a Know-Nothing.

  2. says:

    This hack needs to do some humbling service work to try to shed the stank of his perfidy. All these so-called “Never-Trumpers” are like Capt. Renault in Casablanca- “shocked, shocked” that there is criminal activity in the house.

  3. Douglas Johnson says:

    No credibility, no integrity, he goes ‘whichever way the wind blows’. More to the point he knows which side or venue will be his ‘bread and butter’ or where the money is. PolitiFact should give him the an award for the most ‘flips’.

  4. Trmott says:

    Never could understand why individuals who are not themselves politicians seem eager to formally affiliate with a political party. I don’t follow Sykes because of his track record. But if he had pronounced himself as an independent and simply commented about issues and policies based on his experience and knowledge I’d be more inclined to pay attention.

  5. Edith Wagner says:

    Do you suppose Sykes would apologize for pushing Scott Walker for years of letting, first the county and then the state, go to pot? Now, every time he shows up on MSNBC, I scream at the TV: do not believe a GD sacrosanct word he says.

  6. Jaimcb says:

    Good one, Bruce! I gotta say Charlie is a kinder, gentler fellow as a recovered republican.

  7. AzYooper says:

    I don’t see a problem. As politics has changed in my 80+ years, so have I. So have the Republican and Democrat parties. Trump was certainly a catalyst for many and exposed many other politicians who we thought were vanilla.

  8. gerrybroderick says:

    I’d like to forgive Charlie for each of his stunning inconsistencies, but I’m getting along in years and don’t have that much time.

    And thanks Bruce. We needed that for the record!

  9. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Everyone has to understand that Sykes is a grifter.

  10. Keith Schmitz says:

    It looks like we have a political version of a weather vane instead of a rooster spinning around with each fresh breeze.

    On this one, it’s Charlie Sykes.

    Based on his past, if the Republican Party is cracking up, we have Charlie as an augury.

    He’s kind of like that guy in an action film who dives out of the building just before it blows up.

  11. Thomas Martinsen says:

    I would welcome Charlie to join the Democratic party because he speaks well. I would rather hear him speaking for us than against us.

  12. Virginia Small says:

    Bruce, thanks for charting the whip-lash inducing trajectory of this hard-core Opportunist.

    Charlie’s well-positioned himself once again, but I wish NPR took the time to do some deeper vetting.

  13. Keith Schmitz says:

    Appreciate the conversion, but he kind of made the bed for what the Republican party is now

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