The Fifth Column

Trump-Media Wars, Nancy MacLean's Smear, and the People vs. John McEnroe: New Fifth Column

Podcast takes aim at journalistic self-importance, politician awfulness, and Southie accents


Would the world be better served without having televised White House press briefings? Former press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Mike McCurry seem to think so, and so did Michael Moynihan and Kmele Foster…until I got all shouty about it near the end of the latest episode of The Fifth Column podcast. The three of us also dissect the Jake Tapper approach to factfulness in the Trump era, the president's war on Morning Joe, the dishonesty-riddled Nancy MacLean book Democracy in Chains, the effects of whiskey on Kmele's eye color, and John McEnroe's #problematic decision to answer a question about Serena Williams honestly. It's a fine episode, and you can listen to it right here:

Reminder: Over the weekend you can listen to an hour-long version of The Fifth Column on Sirius XM POTUS (channel 124) Saturdays at 11 a.m. ET then Sundays at 1 a.m. and 3 p.m. And you can always find more Fifth Column at iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play,, @wethefifth, and Facebook.

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  1. the dishonesty-riddled Nancy MacLean book Democracy in Chains

    It probably doesn’t deserve any more time than whatever it gets here, but I’m loving every revelation about how awful MacLean’s work is, so I say get a GMU guy who knew Buchanan on to talk about it. Hell, see if you can get Mike Munger; he knew Buchanan and works in the same university as MacLean, and she never thought to pick his brain for some context or get some guidance on Buchanan’s rather esoteric work in economics. It’s such blatant dishonesty and disregard for history, and it’s amusing me to no end.

    1. If you have read Munger’s piece yet…hoo boy.

      1. I’m working my way through it now. I may save the rest of it until I can read it with a bottle at hand. These are my fireworks for the weekend.

    2. What’s sad is Maclean’s book still has almost 4 stars on amazon. It’s a literary circle jerk over there. People’s le will give 5 stars to anything that reconfirmed their beliefs no matter how dishonestly.

  2. McEnroe was correct.

    1. Hell, he was generous. Serena being #700 is unlikely. As has been pointed out, legendary women’s player Chris Evert could never beat her brother, who was decidedly not a legendary talent. A baseline game where one opponent can hit A LOT harder than the other isn’t going to be competitive. Can’t play a net game because that same opponent is also taller, faster, jumps higher — and is still a lot stronger.

      There is not a sport on Earth where the best woman can be remotely competitive with the best man.

      1. Absolutely he was right – and damn generous. Her serve/forehand wouldn’t overpower the men. Her all-court game is not strong enough either. She couldn’t beat college players I bet.

        McEnroe wasn’t being sexist by any stretch of the imagination. It has nothing to do with Williams’ accomplishments. He was asked a question and answered it and people who know jack shit about tennis/sports went bananas turning what he said into some SJW bull shit. Also, her response was silly. That she never played a man doesn’t check mate the assertion.

        I especially appreciate McEnroe sticking to his guns and not apologizing.

        Apologize for what?

        1. Back when Serena and Venus first started winning Grand Slam tournaments, they offered a challenge to any male ranked outside the top 200. A former top 50 player ? German, I think ? who was ranked in the low 200s and at the end of his career took them up on it and easily beat both of them. They each played him a set and the scores were 6-1, 6-2. It was reported that he was drinking beer and smoking during the changeovers and between sets.

          1. So she lied about not having played a man?

            1. If that’s what she said, yeah. Search: Karsten Braasch Williams sisters.

        2. For saying something objectively true but ideologically inadmissible.

      2. What about that one in the Olympics with the ribbons and the ball?

        1. Rhythmic gymnastics?

    2. Some factoids:

      1. Williams once said: “For me, men’s tennis and women’s tennis are completely, almost, two separate sports….If I were to play Andy Murray, I would lose 6-0, 6-0 in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes.”

      2. The women play with a hopped up ball in order to make the action more interesting. The ball is the same size and pressure, but the men play with a ball that has heavy-duty felt that slows it down.

      3. Bobby Riggs, before he lost to Billie Jean King, had beaten Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1. At the time, Court was ranked #1 in the world, whereas BJK was ranked #2. The general opinion is that Riggs, who was a hustler, threw the match against BJK, perhaps in order earn a higher-paying rematch or because of a betting position. BJK refused to play him again.

      4. The podcast was HUGELY wrong on one subject, which is the current quality of men’s tennis. I expect a much more cosmopolitan attitude from Reason. The fact that there are no good American tennis players doesn’t mean that men’s tennis is in a slump. In fact, this is the golden age of men’s tennis with at least three (Federer, Nadal and Djokovic) and maybe four (including Murray) of the greatest players of all time and some of the greatest rivalries of all time.

  3. OT (does it matter?)

    If OCR Changes Guidance, and No Soave Is Around To Chinstroke About It, Does it Make a Sound?

    acting assistant secretary of OCR, Candice Jackson, said the Trump administration would take a less confrontational approach to the way the department handles accusations that schools do not properly address sexual assault complaints.

    “OCR has fallen into a pattern and practice of overreaching, of setting out to punish and embarrass institutions rather than appreciate their good faith and genuine desire to correct legitimate civil rights problems,” Jackson told the crowd.

    Jackson said at the conference that the Trump administration’s OCR is “committed to discontinuing the legally dubious practice of issuing subregulatory guidance that is then treated through enforcement as binding mandates,” and said the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter could be considered for reversal.

  4. re: ” the dishonesty-riddled Nancy MacLean book Democracy in Chains, ”

    Holy smokes, between Mike Munger’s book-length dissection and this takedown @ Liberty Law… it seems like even the book-jacket blurbs have been shown to have been baseless-falsehoods. Its not just that everything in it is misrepresented (the core claim that Buchanan was influenced by Calhoun appears to be based on nothing but her fevered imagination)… its that it doesn’t even try to be particularly subtle about it. She chopped Tyler Cowan quotes to say literally the opposite of what he was talking about. And when its pointed out to her, she basically shrugs and goes, “I feel like that’s what he should have meant”.

    as i mentioned elsewhere…. its sort of par for the course that people write books about libertarians and libertarianism that are littered with exaggerations and falsehoods.

    Its just that what’s so galling in this case is that they can be so blatantly mendacious and still get a warm + welcoming reception almost everywhere in the MSM. Academic fraud is basically embraced as ‘fresh and exciting scholarship’.

    1. According to Roderick Long:

      In “Freedom Is Not Enough,” MacLean quotes Rothbard on “The Negro Revolution,” and says:

      “His hope was that it ‘might be crippled and defeated.'”

      From Rothbard’s essay:

      This does not mean, however, that the Negro Revolution will inevitably be victorious. There are two ways by which it might be crippled and defeated. First, the retaliatory creation of a white counter-revolutionary mass movement, equally determined and militant.

      He wrote the words “it might be crippled and defeated,” so good enough, right?

      1. MacLean quotes Cowen =

        “”The weakening of checks and balances would increase the chance of a very good outcome.””

        ergo, He Hates Democracy!

        Roberts offers Cowen’s entire un-edited statement =

        While the weakening of checks and balances would increase the chance of a very good outcome, it would also increase the chances of a very bad outcome. Furthermore, the widely-perceived legitimacy of the US Constitution suggests that such a change would involve disastrous transition costs

        this sort of thing should, in a just world, end an academic’s career. That’s not ‘accidental’, that’s defamatory.

        1. In a just world she’d be able to be sued for libel and run out of town on a rail, never to be heard or seen again.

        2. I said the other day that she’s lucky Buchanan and Rothbard are dead, because those look like clear examples of libel. But you’re right; she does the same thing with Cowen, and there’s no reasonable interpretation of Cowen’s words that validates her depiction.

        3. Hmm, judging by the content of the book, is… is Nancy Maclean… Tony?

  5. I assume the John McEnroe issue is the unwoke NPR interview where Garcia-Navarro tried to force the whole interview into a social justice theme?

    Here’s Serena Williams on the subject:

    Williams has weighed in on the issue before. In one interview, she admitted that she would lose against tennis champ Andy Murray if they were to ever go toe to toe.

    “No, it’s true. It’s a completely different sport. The men are a lot faster and they serve harder, they hit harder, it’s just a different game. I love to play women’s tennis. I only want to play girls, because I don’t want to be embarrassed,” Williams told David Letterman in 2013.

    1. I assume the John McEnroe issue is the unwoke NPR interview where Garcia-Navarro tried to force the whole interview into a social justice theme?

      To think, John had to live through this experience after living through the time when Andy Warhol kept ruining his sex life.

      Hasn’t he been through enough?!?!?!?

    2. What a silly thing for people to get worked up about.

      There’s a reason why there are men’s an women’s leagues for all sports. If Williams were capable of being competitive in men’s tennis, she would have never lost a set in women’s tennis.

    3. Didn’t she say something along the lines of ‘why did you qualify it as best women’s tennis player? Why not just tennis player?

      Er, because there’s a difference between men’s and women’s tennis, sparky?

      She was out to get McEnroe and she got him. Mac is not the sort of guy, my impression anyway, to shy away and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was thinking in his head, ‘who do you think you are snowflake?’

    4. Same bullshit happened when Annika Sorenstam–arguably the greatest women’s golf player of all time other than Babe Zaharias–wanted to play in a men’s tournament, and anyone who questioned whether that was a good idea was greeted with “misogyny!!” and “what, are the men scared to get beat by a girl?” uptalking. Lost in the GRRRRRRL power nonsense was the fact that PGA courses are far more difficult than LPGA ones, and that women routinely have to use woods to get even close to the same distance that men easily get with irons.

      Sorenstam, of course, got smoked and damaged her legacy a bit because media progs wanted to rub themselves off to the delusion that women are in the same league of physicality as men. It’s the same thing here–sports prog writers don’t want to admit that Serena’s dominance is due in no small part to the fact that the women’s tennis field has been softer than cotton for about 7-10 years now, so they pretend that it’s because she’s the equal of the top men’s players to rub that SJW itch.

  6. Finally! some drinking.

    the comparative sobriety of the previous 2* had me suffering the vicarious DT’s

    (*i might have missed one; most of the time i can’t listen to these things all the way through during the workday; the last one i seem to recall popping up at random over the weekend)

    1. most of the time i can’t listen to these things all the way through during the workday; the last one i seem to recall popping up at random over the weekend

      My advice: listen to the podcast while with a lady*, because The Fifth Column podcast is a tried-and-true aphrodisiac.

      *Or a man, or gender-less individual, or Real Doll, or dakimakura, etc – the point is the The Fifth Column podcast puts lovers in to an amorous mood.

  7. and Southie accents

    It’s not an “accent,” it’s a speech impediment.

    When I was a child my family moved from Central New York to just outside of Boston, and the students and teachers (oh yes, teachers) would ask me to say words, and then they would all laugh. #neverforget.

    1. Whadcha expect, ya fahking queeah?

    2. All ‘accents’ outside of the Great Lakes region are speech impediments.

      R’s are not fucking silent!!!

  8. #WhiteGirlsNamesAllTheSame

  9. I again lodge my complaint about the phrase, “The age of Trump”

    please don’t say, “but everyone said it about obama”. Of course they did. It was dumb then. It reinforces the awful idea that the president defines everything, that presidents are effectively dictators whose power is/should be absolute.

    it helps people forget that congress matters more, and also excuses the perpetual outrages people feign when said Supreme Overlord makes stupid tweets.

    1. You are right. But we are probably stuck with it.

  10. You guys (*and maybe i should be saying this to Kmele because he seems like he moderates these things) need to make some sort of rough-agenda for your podcasts. You need to have a good story for the 3rd act; instead you get drunk and end up going, “…..awwww i don wanna talk about trump tweets”. and we don’t WANT you to either. Save something meaty for the end.

    *that said, Mike’s spontaneous stream of consciousness re-enactment of the trump-tweet context was priceless.

    1. **i retract everything i said! you got to the MacLean bit at the very end. you all sounded like you were running out of gas.

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