Michelle Malkin, the conservative pundit of blue Colorado, isn’t going silent
The day the self-described “little brown woman with a big mouth” wakes up and no longer has anything to say is the day national political commentator Michelle Malkin will stop spouting her views.
That day hasn’t come for 48-year-old Malkin, who moved from outside Washington, D.C., to the Colorado Springs area in 2008.
“After 25 years, I haven’t run out yet,” she said during an interview in her home in El Paso County, where she lives with her husband of 26 years, Jesse, and their teenage son and young-adult daughter, who is studying to be an esthetician.
“My problem is I have way more topics and not enough time to get to all of them,” Malkin said.
Her fiery, stalwart ideology, which falls “between libertarian and conservative,” has long presaged current headlines. Malkin was sounding off about problems she saw with America’s immigration policies years before Donald Trump started firing celebrities on TV.
The Fox News and C-Span pundit’s first book, “Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces,” was published in 2002 and became a New York Times bestseller.
Her newest book — her seventh and the third on immigration — “Open Borders Inc.: Who’s Funding America’s Destruction?” will be released Tuesday.
In it, Malkin examines what she perceives to be the global forces behind illegal immigration, from Pope Francis to George Clooney, and George Soros to the Koch brothers, to Silicon Valley.
“Follow the money” to get the real story, is her mantra.
Legal immigration is personal to Malkin, whose parents came to the United States from the Philippines and naturalized.
“The two things that were the keys to my family’s American dream: Electing to come here, knowing what a privilege it was, and empowering themselves with the pursuit of their education, to improve themselves.”
Malkin was born in Philadelphia and grew up in South Jersey. She played the piano for 14 years, which remains a centerpiece in her home today. Her 15-year-old son performs musical theater, and her daughter demonstrates her artistic genes by sometimes doing Malkin’s makeup before television appearances.
Oberlin College — where Malkin met her husband, a retired health economist who books her speaking engagements and helps run her business — gave her a taste of how she could use her words and wit to give wings to her thoughts. And people listened.
She became an editorial writer and columnist for the LA Daily News and then the Seattle Times.
“The years I spent at metropolitan newspapers were the most valuable years of my life,” Malkin said. “We had to do on-the-ground reporting and bring that back to the editorial board. I had so many mentors.”
The Malkins moved from North Bethesda, Md., to Colorado Springs 11 years ago because Malkin said the East Coast was becoming “too toxic” of an environment.
“I hated the power moves, the back-scratching, the cliques.”
The quality of life, cost of living and education system were the biggest draws of El Paso County, she said.
At her daughter’s private school in Baltimore, Malkin had objected to the first-grade math curriculum. The textbook had been dropped by other schools, she wrote in a syndicated column.
Malkin was summoned to the principal’s office, where a lawyer told her if she didn’t agree to not write about the topic anymore, her daughter would be kicked out of the school.
Parents in Colorado Springs, she discovered in her research, had been exposing flaws in the same curriculum.
Malkin also liked that Colorado is a choice education state, and that some parents were fighting against Common Core academic standards and protecting the data privacy of children, issues dear to her heart.
“Education is a place you can find liberal and conservative parents who can unite to effect change in your school system,” she said. Parental autonomy and local control of education are two subjects she believes cross party lines.
Many people told Malkin she was committing career suicide by moving far from the nation’s capital. But the advent of the internet meant she “didn’t have to be tethered to the swamp” of Washington, D.C., which she said she found “liberating.”
From 1992 to 2015, Malkin says politics was “pretty predictable.”
The Trump presidency ushered in a new era for political analysts, one that she said can be either incentivizing or disruptive, depending on attitude.
“Our jobs are interesting every single day — every day we wake up and think ‘What’s going to happen today?'” she said. “A lot of horrible things are happening; a lot are not attributable to Donald Trump.”
She has met Trump only once, in a green room before the president did an interview.
“He muttered, ‘Good job, Michelle,’ as I walked past,” Malkin said.
The chance encounter came after a public Twitter spat, during which Trump called Malkin a “dummy,” over a column she wrote, calling him out for eminent domain practices in commercial development.
She has set the “silly tweets” aside. “I agree with his larger worldview and nationalist agenda. He has a fundamental bedrock patriotism that resonates with me.”
Does Malkin think Trump is a racist?
“He’s a lot of other things — he’s vulgar, crass, mercurial,” Malkin replies.
But not racist.
“You go back and look how he was embraced by minority Democrats, in states, in New York City, for years,” she said. “Knowing members of his family and the positions he takes, I do not doubt that he loves this country and he thinks he’s doing the best he can for it …”
Malkin said she has seen, heard and felt more than her share of racism.
“I’ve experienced it from people all across the political spectrum,” she said. “All the time I face it. On social media, it’s a cesspool.”
Her first blog hit the web waves in 2000, and in her 2006 book, “Unhinged,” Malkin devoted a chapter to hate mail she’d received.
“I’m a trifecta, being a woman, a minority and a conservative,” she said, “which is practically being a unicorn. The combination triggers people.”
At first, the nastygrams and mud-slinging jabs bothered her.
A decade ago, in what she calls a “blatant show of misogynistic hatred,” MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann compared her to a “mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.”
Now, she said, “It doesn’t faze me. It’s the price of being on this kind of media.”
In May, Facebook censored Malkin for posting a photo of herself with fellow conservatives who had been banned from the site.
Malkin said she’s “terrified” voices are being silenced and fears for what will happen.
“If we cannot communicate freely in defense of our nation, if we cannot publish vital information on the threats we face, who is funding them, how we stop them, if we cannot gather in public places without fear, we will no longer be a sovereign nation.”
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