But Rush explained the exchange in different words. He paused before listing where Buchanan and Gingrich have not been consistently conservative because it's not easy to call out people who've "been profoundly instrumental in shaping the views of a lot of people in conservatism, and they both, from issue here to issue there, have, in my terms, wandered off the reservation. So I get somebody calling saying, 'Well, what do you think about these guys?' It's tough to have to say these things. I know both these guys, and I like them both."
He wasn't, as Brokaw claimed, saying they weren't true conservatives. He was stating that not every idea they support is conservative. He said Buchanan wasn't really a free-market candidate for president in 1992 and that Gingrich is too willing to get government involved in regulating away "climate change."
Given the intellectual vacuum of the GOP leadership, somebody needs to lead conservatives to analyze the candidate who is truest to their creed. Many talk-radio hosts are taking up that task. So why the hostility toward Rush in particular? Yes, he's the biggest and most influential. But Rush is also uniquely powerful in keeping conservatives from demoralization -- a key objective of the liberal media. Conservatives are understandably glum about their erstwhile champions in Washington, so ingloriously surrendering to liberal pressures. The left would like nothing more than to keep conservatives glum. A McCain nomination would go a long way toward making conservatives want to stay home and stew on Election Day.
Tom Brokaw offering advice to Republicans about how to win elections is like Rush Limbaugh offering advice to the network anchors about how to stop the bleeding of their ever-declining ratings. The recipient of the unsolicited advice no doubt hears it as just noise from someone who doesn't really wish you smashing success.
The only difference is this: Brokaw's advice for the Republican Party is terrible. Limbaugh's advice for the networks -- try a balanced newscast instead of "drive-by" partisan target practice -- would actually be helpful. But they'll never accept it.