Margaret Hoover Relaunches Buckley’s Firing Line By Accusing GOP of Racism

Providing yet another reason to defund public broadcasting, PBS has tapped liberal Republican and CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover to relaunch conservative icon William F. Buckley’s legendary public affairs program Firing Line. As Hoover appeared Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America to promote the new show, co-host George Stephanopoulos teed up a clip of her grilling House Speaker Paul Ryan and accusing the GOP of racism.

Hoover, who on June 15 declared that Democrats “deserve” to win big in the midterm elections and “have a heyday in November,” pressed the Republican congressional leader on welfare reform:

 

 

It’s something that’s plagued Republicans for decades now, right? Because when you hear the term “work requirement” there are some Americans who hear a dog whistle. There are some Americans who, in their mind, go back to 1980 and they hear Ronald Reagan campaigning against welfare queens.  

Ryan pushed back: “It obviously shouldn’t be. This is just as big a problem in rural white America as it is in any other part of the country. So this is not that.”

Following the soundbite, Stephanopoulos observed: “And this show really was something special to so many for such a long time. Big shoes to fill.” Hoover suggested viewers would be “relieved” that she had taken on the Firing Line mantle from the late Buckley: “Big shoes to fill. I am not William F. Buckley Jr., some will breathe a sigh of relief.”

She went on to add: “But, look, he did an extraordinary thing for our television tradition, which is bring this rigorous contest of ideas to television for 33 years....And that’s the tradition that we’re trying to do, we want to bring back a really respectful exchange of ideas...”

So accusing Republicans of using racist “dog whistle” language is part of a “respectful exchange of ideas”?  

Rather than challenge Hoover on that point, Stephanopoulos instead hailed her as a member of “Republican royalty” for being the great granddaughter of GOP President Herbert Hoover.

Hoover promised:

I mean the Firing Line legacy....There are a lot of people who care a lot about carrying that torch forward and are curious about how I’m going to do it. And I approach legacy and history with a lot of honor because I inherited my own and care so much about my great grandfather’s contributions....And so I get that, and I want to honor that and revive the tradition and carry it forward for a new generation.

So far, she’s not off to a great start.

Hoover’s recent history has shown her to be the exact opposite of a Buckley conservative. During the 2016 campaign, she trashed Donald Trump’s list of “very conservative” judges he would consider for the Supreme Court if elected president as “a dog whistle to social conservatives.” In April of that year, she also condemned religious freedom legislation as “draconian laws dismissing LGBT people.”

In 2015, Hoover accused then-Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson of being “untethered to reality” for his opposition to gay marriage.

Again, the word “respectful” doesn’t come to mind.

Here is a full transcript of the June 25 segment on GMA:

8:48 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are back with Margaret Hoover. She is bringing back the PBS classic show Firing Line. It was hosted for over three decades by conservative icon William Buckley Jr. Now it’s Margaret’s turn to fire the questions. We want to show you her at work with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

MARGARET HOOVER [FIRING LINE, PBS]: It’s something that’s plagued Republicans for decades now, right? Because when you hear the term “work requirement” there are some Americans who hear a dog whistle. There are some Americans who, in their mind, go back to 1980 and they hear Ronald Reagan campaigning against welfare queens.

REP. PAUL RYAN [R-WI]: It obviously shouldn’t be. This is just as big a problem in rural white America as it is in any other part of the country. So this is not that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Big guest right there for Margaret Hoover. Let’s welcome her again. [Applause]

HOOVER: It’s fun to be here, it’s amazing. This is a great show.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, it’s your first time up here with the audience. And this show really was something special to so many for such a long time. Big shoes to fill.

HOOVER: Big shoes to fill. I am not William F. Buckley Jr., some will breathe a sigh of relief. But, look, he did an extraordinary thing for our television tradition, which is bring this rigorous contest of ideas to television for 33 years, longest running television host in history. Nobody gives him the credit for that, it’s extraordinary. And that’s the tradition that we’re trying to do, we want to bring back a really respectful exchange of ideas, so few places on television do you get to just be with one person for 30 minutes and do a deep dive on a single policy issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So that’s what you’re going to stick to, a real long discussion, in depth.

HOOVER: That’s exactly it. I mean, in our media climate which is so fractured, a lot of people end up just going to podcasts or other places for a deep dive on a single idea. And that’s what we’re going to return to television, thanks to William F. Buckley Jr. [Applause]  

STEPHANOPOULOS: He was a legend, as I said, a conservative legend. You also come, I guess, from Republican royalty. The great granddaughter of President Hoover.

HOOVER: It is a legacy that – I mean the Firing Line legacy, right? I certainly understand what it’s like. There are a lot of people who care a lot about carrying that torch forward and are curious about how I’m going to do it. And I approach legacy and history with a lot of honor because I inherited my own and care so much about my great grandfather’s contributions, his humanitarian contributions around the world that many people don’t know about. And so I get that, and I want to honor that and revive the tradition and carry it forward for a new generation

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not just politics. William F. Buckley had a tradition of bringing in a wide range of guests. I want to show a little bit of that

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY [Firing Line, PBS]: I’d like to begin by asking Hugh Hefner....Dr. Timothy Leary....Ronald Reagan....Groucho Marx....Richard Nixon....Muhammad Ali....Jesse Jackson....James Earl Carter Jr....the 14th Dalai Lama....Newt Gingrich....Benjamin Netanyahu....Dr. Ron Paul....Rush Limbaugh....Dr. Henry Kissinger....Arianna Huffington.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Arianna Huffingtion right there. And that’s got to be what’s fun as well, trying to cast a wide net.

HOOVER: Well, that’s exactly it. And one of the things – I mean, you saw people there who are still alive and with us and contributing to our public policy debates. I want them back on Firing Line and we’re going to show them with their original clip and them back in the public eye. But, again, it wasn’t just public policy people, it wasn’t just public officials. It’s chefs, it’s comedians, it’s television stars, it’s anybody who’s influencing our culture that can really have a rigorous exchange of ideas on television.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So he set a high bar, 33 years.

HOOVER: 34 is what we’re going for. [Laughter]  

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks very much. Firing Line airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide. You can check your local listings to find out. Thanks for being on.

NB Daily Conservatives & Republicans ABC Good Morning America Video Paul Ryan Margaret Hoover George Stephanopoulos

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