Sykes Is No Longer a Republican
National Public Radio stands corrected. He is not -- roll the drums -- a Republican any more.
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.
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.
In his own way, one that Thomas More would find unfathomable, Charlie Sykes is truly a Man for All Seasons.