Conservative columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan has a new gig as a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC. And she's already showing what a mistake it was to hire her.
Peggy Noonan was recently hired by NBC/MSNBC to be a political analyst, and she quickly showed what a poor decision that was by the network, as she launched a strange defense of Confederate stained-glass portraits in the Washington National Cathedral.
Church leadership announced it would be removing the portraits of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
"This isn’t simply a conversation about the history of the windows," said Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, "but a very real conversation in the wider culture about how the Confederate flag and the Old South narrative have been lively symbols today for white supremacists. We’d be made of stone ourselves if we weren’t paying attention to that."
Noonan, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and a long-time columnist for the Wall Street Journal, used her newly elevated platform courtesy of NBC to argue in defense of the portraits, put in place to honor men who led a treasonous war against the United States to preserve slavery.
On her Twitter account, Noonan said Lee and Jackson were "figures in the greatest, most killing moral struggle in US history" and "they reconciled, the American experiment continued and we learned through this history." She declared, "Keep em. Let it be. They are us."
In reality, the way the war was "resolved" for the illegal Confederate army was complete defeat and a military rout, leading to unconditional surrender to the legal government, commanded by President Abraham Lincoln.
Despite the criticism, Noonan continued to defend keeping honors to the Confederacy in place.
"I am against the movement to tear down statues of those who fought in the Civil War and others," she said. She accused those who support removing the statues of "tearing us down, our history down, banishing it," echoing Donald Trump and others who seem to believe that people cannot learn history from books, only statues put in place by racists reacting to the Civil Rights movement.
The entire nonsensical and racist argument encapsulates the bizarre and strange reasoning that has been a hallmark of Noonan's career. Unfortunately for NBC, the latest right-wing hire represents the addition of yet another conservative voice that has poisoned discourse in the country with misinformation and smears.
Previously, conservative radio host and reliable Republican shill Hugh Hewitt was given his own MSNBC show, and before that, NBC hired race-baiting Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who then proceeded to flame out in prime time after getting caught cozying up to conspiracy theorist and Trump ally Alex Jones.
These hires come at a strange time, as MSNBC’s progressive hosts like Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell are experiencing a ratings surge, and the network often attracts more viewers than Fox News, despite the latter’s relationship with Trump (or perhaps, because of it).
But what MSNBC gets in Noonan is a conservative elitist, who might object to Trump, but who helped to mainstream many of the absurd and offensive beliefs that contributed to Trump’s rise within the right.
Noonan is perhaps best known for using colorful, weird imagery in her writing while hammering away at a conservative agenda, such as describing Obamacare as “a manic, many-armed squid in ink-darkened water.” She also claimed the law had “terrorized millions.”
Noonan has particular political figures that draw her disdain, and her decidedly negative opinions of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have always been quite clear.
Her dislike of Clinton apparently required an entire book; Noonan wrote “The Case Against Hillary Clinton” in 2000, when Clinton was running for her U.S. Senate seat — which she won. She later said that Clinton “has to prove she’s a woman” and “has to seem like a woman” in order to succeed politically.
Noonan wrote that Obama’s nomination acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver in 2008 “has every possibility of looking like a Nuremberg rally.” And she invented a conspiracy theory that Obama had somehow created a crisis with migrant children, so that he could get immigration reform passed. She also floated the theory that he had scuttled a military response to the Benghazi attack as a way to make himself look good.
Noonan also insisted that the strategic decision not to release photos of Osama Bin Laden after he had been killed by Navy SEALS was making the story “dissolve into a mystery,” echoing a conspiracy theory that the killing had not taken place.
And when she isn’t busy lobbing direct smears or pushing conspiracies, Noonan has provided cover for hate.
Referring to florists who refused service to gay couples, Noonan said the backlash against them for discrimination was simply about their “unfashionable views.” She argued that anti-gay businesses should be given “space.”
And she has wrapped up conservative hokum about serious issues in florid language, trying to make them seem more acceptable.
Despite the considerable evidence, Noonan said that Sen. Bernie Sanders looked “daffy” when he accurately linked climate change and terrorism. She has also used her position to push phony stories about the supposed dangers of abortion, which helped to pass legislation restricting abortion clinics.
Noonan has been a cheerleader for the right, regardless of reality. The day before the 2012 election, Noonan said she felt that Mitt Romney would win because “all the vibrations are right.”
Noonan blamed Obama for the failure to pass gun safety legislation, even though it was Republicans in Congress who had blocked the bill, which Obama strongly supported. Yet on a panel discussing the Republican Party’s historically disingenuous obstruction of legislation under Obama, Noonan mockingly said, “Boo hoo.”
When the Republican party was ensnared in scandal with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Noonan took even that as an opportunity to attack Democrats, arguing that they are seen as more corrupt, so the Republican corruption was a surprise and a break from tradition.
When Noonan wrote a column about George W. Bush’s decisions in the Iraq War, instead of referencing the president who started the fight, Noonan completely removed his name and instead said that the city of Washington, D.C. was responsible for the invasion. Noonan, in fact, used her Wall Street Journal column to help Bush push for the war in the first place. (She wrote a book-length love note to the first term presidency of Bush called “A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag.”)
Her vocabulary may be more extensive than the garden variety Republican pundit, but Noonan is just as dishonest as many that have been on air before her.
On MSNBC and NBC, she will no doubt keep up her routine of reliably defending and boosting Republicans, no matter what the facts on the ground are.
Her addition to a network that is home to liberal ratings stars will only serve to push it to the right. Viewers will be less informed, and subjected to Noonan’s incorrect and poorly written version of reality.