A Requiem for National Review

The poseurs really stepped in it this time. The “conservative” elitists at National Review may well have caused irreparable damage to their already tottering reputations, with their knee-jerk attack on a group of Kentucky high school kids in MAGA hats. Then they made things much worse with the barely concealed contempt in their shallow “apologies,” offered begrudgingly when the smear blew up in their faces.

The pile-on assault of the Covington Catholic high school kids who attended the March for Life wearing Make America Great Again hats gave full witness to the cruelty, lack of proportion and disregard for facts that mark our repulsive “mainstream” media today. Nothing new there. But what are we to conclude when a supposed “pillar of conservatism” howls with the mob in a Pavlovian manner?

Perhaps we should not be surprised. NR is the same publication which infamously devoted an entire issue in 2015 to savaging the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination. Titled “Against Trump,” it was dripping with scorn and contempt, most graphically expressed by Editor Rich Lowry: “America is being imperiled by the rise of a liberal reality-show carnival barker who disguises himself as a conservative.”

Scathing and Insincere

“’Bullying’ is a worn-out word and doesn’t convey the full extent of the evil on display here,” National Review deputy managing editor Nicholas Frankovich wrote in condemnation of the youths in his infamous and now-deleted article. Frankovich ham-handedly painted trouble-seeking activist Nathan Phillips as a modern-day Christ figure being crucified by a group of fresh-faced white Trump Kids from flyover country.

“Decide for yourself who is more pleasing to Christ, Phillips or his mockers,” he wrote. “As for the putatively Catholic students from Covington, they might as well have just spit on the cross and got it over with.”

The callous and obtuse article naturally infuriated readers. But it was in its attempt to explain away this acid-tongued pose that NR really showed its true colors. The back peddling began with an article on “The Covington Affair,” penned by “The Editors.” Instead of showing humility, the article asserted that Frankovich was “writing as a faithful Catholic and pro-lifer who has the highest expectations of his compatriots, not as a social-justice activist.” It also explained that Frankovich was writing for a forum that “encourages real-time, unfiltered reactions.”

And that’s just the problem these ivory tower “conservatives” don’t get. Frankovich revealed that the “real-time, unfiltered” instinct of the anti-Trump hacks who write for this publication is to viciously slander Trump supporters any chance they get. Frankovich saw a horse he could ride and instead of checking to see if it had legs to last, he snapped the reins and took off at full gallop.

The author’s own apology for his deeply offensive column was even more aloof. “I was preachy and rhetorically excessive, and I regret it,” he wrote of his “overheated post.” That’s it. That is as close to an expression of true remorse as you are going to get from this supposedly “faithful Catholic” who unjustly vilified a bunch of high school kids as “evil” personified.

Rooted Hostility

There is a very good reason why the elitists of Conservatism, Inc. can’t bring themselves to seek forgiveness from a group of Kentucky school kids. It has nothing to do with any politically partisan clash and everything to do with an urbanite aristocracy’s hatred – there is no other word for it – for regular folks from flyover country.

In addition to its sanctimonious Against Trump edition, this is the magazine, remember, that famously pronounced that rural, “white working class” towns needed to “die.” This particular savagery from former NR “star” writer Kevin Williamson in 2016 deserves to be quoted at length:

“The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin.”

There is only one word to describe the unfiltered bile to be found in those words: atavistic. A deep-seated, tribal hatred for working people shines through in Williamson’s seething article. Many observers at the time saw this column as another notable step off the ledge by National Review. The magazine’s descent into irrelevance has accelerated at warp speed with its nonstop attacks on Trump, and “The Covington Affair” feels like another milestone moment.

Rich Lowry

The evidence already exists that National Review is a failing publication. Following their Against Trump edition in 2015, globalist Senator Patrick Toomey toasted NR on its 60th anniversary. “With over 150,000 subscribers, it is the most read opinion magazine in America,” he gushed. Fast forward two years and we have an “academic member of the board of National Review” openly fretting about the mag’s “institutional survival” in the wake of all that Trump-bashing. The Atlantic quotes the unidentified board member as saying: “I mean, the number of print subscribers to National Review are down to 89,000.”

Well, now. From 150,000 subscribers all the way down to 89,000? That seems quite the circulation cull. When Bill Kristol’s equally counterfeit neoconservative rag The Weekly Standard announced in December that it was shutting down, reports stated that its circulation had dropped 28% – from 100,000 to 72,000. National Review’s decline – 40% in two years – appears to be even more precipitous.

The death watch may be on for a publication that cannot stomach the very people it pretends to champion. Ethically, such deceit is repulsive. As a business model, it simply is not sustainable. Especially in an era when grassroots conservatives are clamoring for real change to a status quo that these insufferable “conservative” elitists will apparently stop at nothing to preserve.

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