PBS Fishes for Trump-Bashing, Reels in an Answer They Didn't Want

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

If you watched Bill O’Reilly’s show many years ago, you probably remember Margeret Hoover, great-granddaughter to President Herbert Hoover. She used to do a mixture of analytical and light-hearted segments on the former Fox News program. Since then, she’s moved on to PBS, hosting an interview show called Firing Line.

Recently, Hoover sat down with Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist and political activist who serves as an expert on authoritarianism, specifically dealing with Mao’s cultural revolution. During their exchange, the PBS host brings up a mention in Weiwei’s book of Donald Trump, but while Hoover was clearly setting up a lead-in for some good old Trump-bashing, she and her producers ended up with an answer they didn’t want.

Hoover presses Weiwei to call Trump an authoritarian, yet the activist turns the conversation around, noting that you can not be an “authoritarian” on your own. That’s certainly true. The former president was not an “authoritarian” simply by virtue of the fact that he sometimes said things liberals don’t like. Rather, authoritarianism is much more serious than that and is constituted by tangible actions. In hindsight, Joe Biden, for example, is clearly far more authoritarian than Trump as evidenced by the current president’s continued propagation of clearly unconstitutional actions. In short, tweets do not make someone a dictator.

But it was what Weiwei said next that likely had Hoover’s producers putting their faces into their palms. He went on to claim that the United States is actually in an authoritarian moment, just not in the way the left believes. Instead, he brings up the fact that people unifying around certain “political correctness” denotes a “dangerous” trend.

Here’s the thing. Those on the left desperately want everything they oppose to be “authoritarian.” That’s why you get constant, irrational claims about their need to “save democracy.” Yet the left’s attempts to erase history and suppress “improper” speech are actually the hallmarks of authoritarianism as evidenced by Mao’s cultural revolution, something Weiwei is very familiar with.

He understands that a leader popping off on Twitter doesn’t bring about tyranny. Rather, what brings about tyranny is a societal shift that tears down the past and viciously dictates the future via threats of financial ruin and violence. It is not the right that wants to destroy statues of Thomas Jefferson and put in place “hate speech” laws. Instead, it is the left that forces people from their jobs for wrong-think while insisting that it’s acceptable to “punch” nazis. And surprise, everyone they don’t like is a nazi.

In the end, I’m sure Weiwei’s overall views aren’t in line with traditional American conservatism. I’m not claiming anything of the sort. But as someone who knows authoritarianism when he sees it given his experiences with the communists in China, he’s a good messenger for what truly fosters it. Many Americans could use a reality check on the entire topic.