Charlie Sykes


Then. On March Twenty Eighth Twenty Sixteen the Party was forever changed when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president of the United States. The rise of Donald Trump would mark a pivotal moment in Charlie Sykes, his career at the end of two thousand sixteen. He'd left his conservative radio show and just two years. Later, he founded a national news website called the bulwark. The website has become a haven for disaffected conservatives in the United States who hope to stand their ground in the face of what they view as a perversion of traditional conservative values by the trump supporting wing of the party. The board was founded just one month after the collapse of the weekly Standard, a magazine that had long been a mainstay of the conservative movement and indeed relied on much of the weekly standards, former staff to populate its ranks. So how Cannibal were convinced conservative minded voters in the United States that Donald Trump is not the answer. I'm Chris Tarmac Monaco's news editor and I spoke with Charlie Sykes for the big interview. Charlie. Welcome to the big interview I wanted to start with how the bulwarks goal's differ from what the weekly standard was. How would you describe your mission when you started and you know how has that mission evolved over time? Well. That's an interesting question because when we started, it was really a stopgap measure. We were hoping that something like the weekly standard could reconstitute itself. We certainly were not the weekly standard. I mean. The weekly standard was a yacht compared to our Somali pirate boat yet about ten people and you know as opposed to this quarter century old, you know highly respected journal so we were not going to replace. The Weekly Standard we had the same staff we had much of the same mission however. I. Think we were liberated from some of the constraints that may be the magazine had an in his later days but I think in part it was waiting around. We were going to wait for a successor publication. Will you know months de months passed more months pass our audience grew we became more confident in our. And I think created a distinct voice people began. Thinking, who are these guys at the bullwork they were but you know what is it? They're saying? Publishing high quality provocative work on a regular basis to an audience and for me I mean, I obviously road for but also the podcast which started off very modestly and then to watch it grew and grew and grew I can't tell you what the market research would tell you about that. All I know is that obviously there was a hole in the in the media. Space that we were able to fill which look I i. think there are a lot of bad things happening in American politics that a lot of a lot of disturbing friends in the American media the fact that you could start a a centrist public education from scratch develop a an audience in this environment I think is maybe somewhat hopeful now when I say centrist I mean. We did not pull punches. We were not saved middle of the road when it comes to trump our approach to trump has been I would say unsparing. From the beginning unsparing ended up and quite consistent now describe to our international listeners. If you could your own personal evolution and history, you really switched after decades of conservative radio in Wisconsin to running the bulwark it feels like your career is almost one of two halves. It does feel like a different life. There's no question about it a sort of think of my life before March twenty, eighth two, thousand, sixteen, and after March. Twenty eighth two thousand sixteen but for a long time I felt I had not changed at all. You know for twenty three years I I had a conservative talk show on the largest station in the state of Wisconsin. We were one of the main reasons why Wisconsin Chung from blue to red but which I mean Democrat to Republican I always get that read next up there seems like it should be the other way around. So I mean, I was I was Outspoken Conservative, very much involved in the conservative movement very close to every conservative Republican leader in Wisconsin including good friends with all Ryan went on to be the speaker friend and supporter of governor Scott Walker a friend and supporter of Senator Ron Johnson. You know down the list. And From the beginning, we were all never trump. From the moment came down the golden escalator. He seemed to me to be a cartoon version of everything. The left had said about the right racist with. A phobic guy. He was a man clearly without fixed principals who is a notorious chronic liar in confident. In Wisconsin, we saw through all of that and actually believe that in Wisconsin we were smarter Savvier we had gone through some very, very tough, very partisan political fights and so Republicans in Wisconsin were much more engaged than perhaps in other states and so sought from for what he was. You might remember that trump loss, the Wisconsin primary badly in April of two, thousand sixteen not because Wisconsin is. Like Ted Cruz, but because they didn't like Donald Trump. So here's my evolution. So I don't change what I say about Donald Trump saying the same thing throughout the campaign one by one other Republicans decided that now maybe maybe it won't be so bad. We have to stick with the tribe we have to stick with the team and throughout the year I could feel that the audience which had been. With me for twenty three years was shifting I hadn't changed where I was on Donald Trump but the Republican party was changing the was adapting itself to trump at first reluctantly then I think there was a sort of transactional ISM. We will get things from trump that we wouldn't get from any other Democrat. So that would be the call Ryan's of the World said you know if I get? My tax cuts from Donald Trump, I'm willing to look the other way for all of these other things gradually that became more of a habit for Republicans, and here we are today where the Republican Party is more like a culture personality than it is a political party and I'm the one who's excommunicated. So in some ways, you could say you're my evolution, it's also the evolution of the party but. When I left my talk show at the end of twenty sixteen and I did that voluntarily I was planning on doing that. It was the amazing experience of breaking free from the thraw of partisan tribalism I have been part of that. And in a lot of ways it was disillusioning, but it was also liberated. because. For the first time, I wasn't on the team anymore and look around and say, okay, you know how did we get here? What did we get wrong and I went through a long period of? REALLY SORT OF SELF EXAMINATION Had I not I thought I knew who my fellow conservatives were. I thought I knew what they believed. And as it turned out I didn't necessarily because if they were willing to embrace trumpism than maybe I didn't understand who they were and

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