Author and American Greatness contributor Michael Walsh joined the Seth and Chris Show this week to discuss the Frankfurt School, cultural Marxism and how members of the media need to grow up. Listen to the interview and read the transcript.
Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk, and this is the Seth and Chris Show. Welcome back. We’re joined again by our friend and fellow collaborator, no, co-conspirator. I think I like that. Michael Walsh. Michael, welcome back.
Michael Walsh: Hey thanks, guys. Appreciate it.
Chris Buskirk: Unindicted co-conspirator. Is that what we’re gonna call you?
Michael Walsh: Yeah. I haven’t been indicted yet, so that’s good.
Chris Buskirk: There’s still time.
Michael Walsh: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: Michael, just for our audience’s benefit, you’ve written a number of books. Of course, the most recent one is The Devil’s Pleasure Palace. Coming up in just a few months is The Fiery Angel, which I was waxing eloquent about earlier in the show. I think people need to go and pre-order it on Amazon.
Chris Buskirk: I’m not expecting a fight from you on that point.
Michael Walsh: No, no, guys. Thanks very much. The check’s in the mail. Thank you for that.
Chris Buskirk: Great. Great. Hey, Michael, you have a new piece up at American Greatness today called “Media Chickens of the Frankfurt School Have Come Home to Roost.” Can you unpack that a little bit for people who maybe don’t even know what the Frankfurt School is?
Michael Walsh: How can you not know what the Frankfurt School is?
Chris Buskirk: Well, maybe they’re new listeners. Maybe they’re just joining us.
Michael Walsh: Yeah. Well, okay. As we used to say in the music business, “There’s always someone who’s never heard Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony for the first time.” So, yeah. The Frankfurt School was a collection of Marxist German Scholars, philosophers, who fled Hitler and landed in New York City at Columbia University, where they continued to espouse the principles of Marxism, in particular, cultural Marxism, since economic Marxism had largely failed already at that point.
Chris Buskirk: Was this in the ’30s, Michael?
Michael Walsh: This was in the ’30s. Yes. They stayed through the war. After the war, many of them went back to Germany, but some of them stayed in the United States. Most prominently, Herbert Marcuse, who taught in the Ivy League, and then he went out to California and finished his career in the United States teaching at UC San Diego. So, he was a very influential philosopher of my college years. I read him a great deal.
Anyway, they invented something called Critical Theory, which sounds fancy but is basically the notion that there’s nothing about Western civilization that shouldn’t be attacked, and if possible, destroyed through questioning and relentless hectoring. It was sort of Saul Alinsky before Saul Alinsky came around. They’ve had a tremendously negative effect on the United States, especially the educational system. And so, the “Chickens of the Frankfurt School” are their grandchildren, great-grandchildren of these people who were first educated by Marcuse and others, and now they are thoroughly indoctrinated good little cultural Marxists, so that’s what I’m writing about in regards to our beloved media this week.
Chris Buskirk: And so, how cognizant do you think that these cultural Marxists are? How cognizant do you think they are of the ideology that they have been taught? In other words, are they conscious of having it? Or [has] it just been in the air that they breathe throughout their academic and professional careers?
Michael Walsh: No. I think for the White House press corps it’s the latter. Because if you look at them on the laugh riot comedy go video tape of Doctor Ronny Jackson’s press conference the other day, you see that they’re all 14-years-old. When I came up in journalism when I was 14-years-old, your chances of being a White House correspondent at that age were nil. And you know, the White House correspondents were elderly, gray beard guys who stroked their chins and who had very authoritative voices and dressed like grownups. And now, they’re a bunch of children.
So, this is partly my perspective on the other side of the age divide. But also, it speaks to how quickly young people are promoted up the ladder today, especially pretty girls and good looking air headed guys, and that’s what we see in the White House press corps, by and large. It’s quite amusing. So, I don’t think they know that they’ve been so thoroughly manipulated and indoctrinated. Some of the older people do. Certainly the men of my generation do. I would say David Axelrod for example, who is very successful, reporter, political columnist, and then political campaign manager and guru, he well knows what he’s doing.
I think we’ve talked before, this is a war between the baby boomers, and it really won’t be over until we’re all finally dead.
Chris Buskirk: I’m interested, what happened … because a phenomenon, as well, which is that in the media, you know, the mainstream media … not even just the mainstream media, tends to promote very young people to responsible positions, I think way before they should. It has a deleterious effect on the quality of the coverage and on the quality of the commentary, because so many of them just don’t know anything.
Michael Walsh: No, they don’t know a thing. That’s true.
Chris Buskirk: Not even always their fault. Some of it is, but there are just things it’s impossible to know when you’re 27. You know, it’s called maturity, and a lot of these folks don’t have it. My question for you, maybe you know where the bodies are buried … we’re gonna go to the break, but here’s the question. What happened to the generation above them than, by rights I think, should be holding some of these positions?
I’m Chris Buskirk. Michael Walsh is my guest. We’ll be right back.
I am Chris Buskirk. This is the Seth and Chris Show. Welcome back. Our guest is Michael Walsh. Michael has written another good one for American Greatness, “Media Chickens of the Frankfurt School Have Come Home to Roost.” Part of this dirt work is being done by very young people who have been promoted quickly through the media cultural complex. But, Michael, I just wonder … I don’t know if you know, but what happened to the people who are a generation ahead who you would think might hold these jobs, like White House Correspondent, or some of these other jobs that are now being given to very young people who often just don’t know what they’re talking about?
Michael Walsh: Well, yeah. It’s not just us saying that, Chris. It’s Ben Rhodes who famously observed that. You know, he was dealing with the White House press corps.
Chris Buskirk: He saw it as an opportunity.
Michael Walsh: Yes, that he could tell them anything they wanted, and they’d buy it, and they’d dutifully … you know, they’re stenographers. They’re not reporters, so the just wrote it down and ran it. I don’t know what happened to that generation. I think my generation worked its way up the traditional way in traditional newspapers. And then, I made it to the big-league magazine world when I was 31 at Time magazine, so I became the music critic of Time at that age, which was young for Time in those days. You know, it’s an achievement that I’m proud of.
And then, that middle generation between mine … that’s sort of your generation, Chris, actually. I think a lot of things happened. They got squeezed out. More women were brought in for one thing. More minorities were brought in. And so, some of the guys who would have held those positions just didn’t get them, and they went into teaching, and they went into PR, and they went into other fields. But the demands of television, they want good looking people, not funny looking people. That begins to be remunerated more highly than actual talent.
So, as I pointed out in today’s piece in American Greatness, the quality of the interlocution is really not the most important thing. It’s, is she really cute and is that guy good looking and can they shout loudly. So, we’re down to a circus atmosphere now. We’ve had it coming, frankly.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah. It’s interesting. I mean, we talk about it a lot here because this is radio. So, you know, radio is such a … it’s a longer form. It’s more intimate. There’s something about the format that we like a lot. Because I think it’s audio, it is more intimate. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Right? You can do longer form, more thoughtful stuff on television. People just don’t. They’ve made a decision in the TV business not to do it.
Michael Walsh: Yeah. I think so. You know, Marshall McLuhan, back in the ’60s, was pointing out how attention spans were shortening, the medium is the message. You know, we’re down now to the iPhone in generation, and beyond where everything … people no longer even read, they just kind of—
Chris Buskirk: Scroll.
Michael Walsh: Osmose. Yeah. And then, they opine. So, as you know, when you read comments on some sites, not on American Greatness, people actually seem to be literate on our site, but on others, you can tell they haven’t read the piece. They’re just popping off. It becomes this sort of sandbox of stupidity. It’s too bad, but it’s the world we live in, and there’s not much we can do about it.
Chris Buskirk: Well, I don’t know. I’ll be the optimist for once here. Maybe we bounced off the bottom here. You know, Twitter took us down to the bare bones at 140 characters, but they went up to 280 characters. Maybe we’re coming back. People want something a little longer. We’ve reached rock bottom. It’s like we’ve reached rock bottom, and now we’ve gotta look for an alternative, which is, I don’t know, maybe we’ll think about things before we opine.
Michael Walsh: Oh, I don’t think that’ll ever happen, Chris. You are just a cockeyed optimist there, boy. Yeah. I think Twitter was better at 140 because it was really haiku and you had to actually work at it. Now it’s just, you know, you can vent. But again, I’m not the one to stand in the way of progress.
What do I know? I live in rural New England where we had a good foot of global warming land on us yesterday, so we dug out from that. The temperature, as usual, is hovering right around the good old 10 degrees above zero to zero degrees above zero mark, as it has done for the last six weeks.
Chris Buskirk: Well, if that’s not global warming, I don’t know what is.
Michael Walsh: It has to be climate change somehow, because whoever heard of winter in rural mountainous New England? Right.
Chris Buskirk: In January of all times.
Michael Walsh: In January.
Chris Buskirk: Who’d have thunk it?
Michael Walsh: Right. So, here we are.
Chris Buskirk: Michael, we just have a few minutes left, so I wanted to get to something else that you wrote last week for us, “To Fix Washington D.C., We Must First Destroy It.” We didn’t have a chance to talk about it last week. I was in D.C., and the idea of destroying it first and then fixing it, it seemed kinda good at the time. What’s your thesis there?
Michael Walsh: Well, the thesis is, without speaking to the internet age, there’s no reason to have everything concentrated in Washington. I mean, it’s just another target for little Kim Whatshisface in Korea, the fat kid. If we had the Department of the Interior, for example, in the interior like Lebanon, Kansas, which is the geographic center of the Continental United States, that could be very interesting. If we had the Department of Transportation in Detroit. If we had the FBI in Kansas City, which was the site of the famous Kansas City Massacre in the ’30s that got FBI agents armed. They had been unarmed up to that point, and they were caught by Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and some of the Midwestern bank robbers, with their pants down.
It would help the economy. It would reduce the pressures in D.C., where I partly grew up and I remember it as a rather rural community, and now of course, it’s a megalopolis, as you probably noticed when you were there last week. I just don’t see what’s the downside, since we communicate in real-time now anyway. Who wouldn’t want to live in Minot, North Dakota? I mean let’s face it, it would do the bureaucrats good to get them out of Falls Church and Arlington.
Chris Buskirk: You know there are people who have been talking about this. There’s a policy guy by the name of James Strock, who’s written a few books. He’s friends with one of our mutual friends, Steve Hayward from PowerLine.
Michael Walsh: Oh, yeah.
Chris Buskirk: But, he worked on the Reagan Administration. He’s been pushing this idea for a couple of years, which I think is a … you know, it sounds funny. Right? It sounds like a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but on the other hand there’s some there, which is move the government out into the rest of the country. The risk you run, of course, is it’s like sending cancer out into the bloodstream. But on the other hand, I think maybe the bureaucrats might actually assimilate into regular America.
Michael Walsh: Yes. Well, there’s another thing. First of all, there’s a . . . already existing example of this, and that’s Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany, post-National Socialist Germany, had a little too much up close and personal experience with big government, you might say. When the country was being reassembled, first the half of it known as West Germany, and finally the whole thing, they deliberately decentralized the Federal Government. So, that was located in Balm, not Berlin, because of Berlin’s unique status. The German DMV is in Flensburg, which is up in the North. The courts are in Karlsruhe, and the banks are in Frankfurt, and et cetera, et cetera. So, they moved all those offices around precisely to prevent the concentration of government dependent people in one place, which had proved so literally fatal to Germany just a few years before. I think it’s a great idea, actually.
Chris Buskirk: It really is a good idea. While we’re at it, maybe when we do it, we slim down a few of these agencies, you know, just for the move.
Michael Walsh: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, things get lost in moving vans, so stuff happens. Next thing you know, you’re out [inaudible].
Chris Buskirk: Might lose a whole agency. Hey, do you remember what box we put the Department of Education in? I can’t seem to locate it.
Michael Walsh: Yeah. Well, somehow it wound up in Berkeley, California, but there we go. Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: Michael, I appreciate it as always. We’ll talk to you again next week. Michael Walsh has been my guest. He is the author of “Media Chickens from the Frankfurt School Come Home to Roost. It’s on American Greatness now. Order his newest book, “The Fiery Angel.” It’s up on Amazon for pre-order right now. Michael, we’ll talk to you again soon.
Michael Walsh: Thanks again, Chris. Appreciate it.