In case you missed it, on Alex Jones’ Infowars show, Jones attempted to throw the scandal-plagued star a lifeline. “I get the Hugo Boss uniforms [are] amazing,” Jones said, perhaps attempting to explain West’s antisemitism. “But just because you’re in love with the design—you’re a designer—can we just kinda say you like the uniforms, but that’s about it?”
“No, there’s a lot of things I LOVE about HITLER,” West replied. “A LOT of things.” At this point, Jones had that same look on his face that Mike Myers had when Kanye said, “George W. Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”
But that wasn’t the only example of right-wing podcast hosts trying to moderate West, only to be rebuffed. During a recent interview with Ye, podcast host Tim Pool tried to defend West from media criticism, saying, “I think they’ve been extremely unfair to you—” before West shot back, “Who is they, though? We can’t say who ‘they’ is, can we?”
Pool clarified that he meant “the corporate press,” not Jewish people. As a result, West stormed off the set.
In the legal world, West keeps making “admissions against interest.” His startled podcast hosts, acting as his attorneys, attempt to placate, humor, and redirect him—all to no avail.
It takes a special kind of crazy to stick to those particular guns. I can only recall a couple of recent examples where people have been thrown a lifeline, only to say, “No thanks, I got this!”
In August of 2016, Hugh Hewitt invited then-candidate Donald Trump on his radio show and attempted to help him clean up one of his many self-inflicted controversies. “Last night, you said the President [Obama] was the founder of ISIS,” Hewitt said, adding: “I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.”
“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS,” Trump shot back. Hewitt then pointed out that Obama was actually trying to kill members of ISIS. Trump responded, “I don’t care. He was the founder.”
Hewitt tried another tack (similar to Jones conceding the Nazis dressed well and Pool conceding the media were out to get Ye), this time acknowledging that liberals had “screwed everything up” in the Middle East.
“You don’t get any argument from me,” Hewitt said, “but by using the term founder, they’re hitting… you on this again. Mistake?” he asked. “No, it’s no mistake,” Trump said. “Everyone’s liking it.” (Trump, of course, went on to win the presidency. So much for saving him from himself.)
Such self-destructive tendencies and refusal to accept help are not exclusive to right-wingers.
In June of 2020, cable news host Katy Tur invited Isaac Bryan, the executive director of the Black Policy Project at UCLA, on MSNBC to discuss the “defund the police” mantra, which—by then—had clearly become a drag on Democrats.
After thanking her guest, Tur tried to throw Dems a lifeline: “I think there are a lot of people out there who hear ‘defund the police’ and [think] it means abolishing a police department,” Tur said. “It doesn’t. So can you explain it to me?”
“You know, I disagree with some of the premise of that question,” Bryan responded, adding that the defund the police slogan “doesn’t NOT mean abolishing the police.” (A couple of days later, The New York Times made Tur’s job even harder, running an opinion piece whose headlined blared: “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police.”)
People like Jones, Pool, Hewitt, and Tur have discovered the hard way that it’s thankless to try and help someone who is committed to embracing the crazy. In those moments, no good deed goes unpunished.
Still, Kanye’s comments stand out as the most concerning by far. Even though accusing Obama of literally founding ISIS or saying that police departments should literally be abolished are weird and fringy positions, neither come close to voicing love for Adolf Hitler. That type of comment is in a class by itself.
Perhaps even more amazing (and that’s saying a lot) is that Kanye is forcing otherwise outrageous right-wingers like Jones to act like the adults and play the moderate.
It’s as if West is saying, “Oh, you’re willing to say that little kids murdered at an elementary school were crisis actors? HOLD MY BEER!”
Keep in mind that many provocateurs are practiced with dog whistles and plausible deniability. They know how to hint at outrageous things without fully crossing the line. Yet they keep trying (and failing) to help Ye help himself.
If nothing else, West is smoking out which right-wingers are merely dabblers, which are performance artists, and which truly drink the Kool-Aid. He is also testing the proposition that you can never go too far in today’s attention economy.
A few years ago, Rep. Thomas Massie said of Republican primary voters, “I thought they were voting for libertarian Republicans. But after some soul searching I realized… they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race.”
“[I] think ye could actually win the presidency,” Tim Pool tweeted on Thursday.
If the presidency is now a race to the bottom, he might be right.