Brian Birdnow

Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the troubled bastion of mainstream liberal journalistic thought in the great American heartland published a short, but typically piquant editorial piece slamming Patrick J. Buchanan for his soon-to-be released memoir of the 1968 Presidential campaign entitled, “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create a New Majority.” The Post-Dispatch, anticipating the release of Buchanan’s work launched what may be charitably labeled a pre-emptive strike on Buchanan, even though his new book does not concern the PD. Tony Messenger, the newspaper editor, picked an unnecessary fight with Pat Buchanan, and, like a good modern liberal, Messenger ignored reasoned debate, filled his piece with snarky personal attacks, questioning of opponents motives, and an overpowering sense of preening moral superiority.

The reader might, at this point, legitimately ask: Who cares about the St. Louis Post-Dispatch? Actually, very few people care about the PD if one considers their sinking subscription and readership numbers. This anti-Buchanan editorial does, however, offer a clear window into the liberal mind at work in a major metropolitan daily newspaper. It is not a pretty picture.

First of all, a little background is in order here. Patrick J. Buchanan, the conservative titan, is certainly familiar to all Townhall readers. Buchanan started his career as an editorial writer at the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat. After three years as an editorial page assistant editor, a debater against student radicals at Washington University, and a general man about town, Buchanan, chagrined that his employer had declined to endorse Barry Goldwater in the 1964 Presidential campaign, decided that he had accomplished as much in St. Louis as possible, and he began to explore other employment options. He signed on as a media liaison to the nascent Nixon-For-President-in-’68 campaign at the beginning of 1966, after meeting the former Vice-President at a house party in Belleville, Illinois. Buchanan has now written his book on the 1968 campaign, using as his primary sources the thousand pages of memos he wrote to Nixon as a senior advisor, and the candidate’s responses.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.