Charlie Sykes’ conscience is nagging him.Yes -- did Sykes not see that? Did he somehow overlook that racist anger when he was airing the kind of material described in this 2014 New Republic story?
Since last year, the most influential political talk show host in Wisconsin has found out just how hard it is to be a #NeverTrump conservative on right-wing radio....
Sykes’ many arguments with listeners over Donald Trump’s serial outrages have exposed in much of his audience a vein of thinking -- racist, anti-constitutional, maybe even fascistic -- that has shaken Sykes. It has left him questioning whether he and his colleagues in the conservative media played a role in paving the way for Trump’s surprising and unprecedented rise....
“When I would deny that there was a significant racist component in some of the politics on our side, it was because the people I hung out with were certainly not,” Sykes says. “When suddenly, this rock is turned over, there is this -- ‘Oh shit, did I not see that?’..."
Sykes is credited with, among other accomplishments, having blocked public funding for needle-exchange programs and having helped drive into bankruptcy an urban mall after harping on security issues there. In April 2013, he played a clip of “It’s Free (Swipe Yo EBT),” a viral video produced by a right-wing activist in which an African American woman raps about liquor stores where one can allegedly use a food-stamp card. Returning to the same theme later in the year, Sykes declared, “The number of Americans who receive means-tested government benefits -- welfare -- now outnumbers those who are year-round full-time workers.”Yeah, nobody could have foreseen that playing an excerpt from this video would stir up white racial anger:
And no one could have predicted that the author of this book would have stirred up Trumpite anger in the years before the rise of Trump:
On immigration, here are some pre-Trump tweets from Sykes:
Unexpectedly. Illegal immigrant freed pending drug trial flees https://t.co/mdzLdl154B— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) February 6, 2016
Illegal immigrants could receive Social Security, Medicare under Obama action http://t.co/e7g4TF6H1J— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) November 26, 2014
And here's one referencing a murder victim frequently cited by Donald Trump on the campaign trail (an undocumented immigrant has been charged in the case):
Megyn Kelly: Why hasn’t Obama commented on the killing of Kate Steinle by an illegal? - Hot Air http://t.co/P3xjT2DoCr— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) July 13, 2015
On Islam and refugees:
ISIS Burns Jordanian Pilot: Mr. Obama, when will you get angry about radical Islam? | http://t.co/EaUrWJFQA1— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) February 4, 2015
"It is clear that the influx of Syrian refugees poses a threat," said Walker. https://t.co/nYELtScPFe— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) November 16, 2015
Sen. Ron Johnson: Americans Don't Trust This Administration to Vet Refugees - Right Wisconsin https://t.co/gqFL60J5Kx— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) November 17, 2015
Oh, and that angry mother of a Benghazi victim who spoke at the Republican convention on Trump's behalf? Sykes was an admirer three years ago:
Pat Smith to Hillary Clinton ‘Happy Mother’s Day’s you’ve got your child I don’t have mine’ http://t.co/QWt1h4Qkmr— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) May 12, 2013
(Go here for more on Benghazi from Sykes.)
And while Sykes may not endorse the nuttiest conspiracies, he traffics in the kind of right-wing conspiratorialism that's utterly mainstream. Hillary Clinton says she'd like to overturn Citizens United? Sykes responds by tweeting a link to an inflammatory Power Line post:
Are you a climate change denier with a book to hawk? You're welcome on Sykes's show.
Sykes is hardly the worst of the right-wing talkers. But did he do his part in preparing the ground for Trump? You bet.