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Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly on podcast. The death of the political discourse or just another good excuse to switch over to real debate? November 21, 2006

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Democrats, Republicans, United States, US Media, US Politics.
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Check it out. Now available for free in the iTunes Store podcasts from a roster of the Fox right-wing. And what a disappointment they are, or at least those I’ve signed up to so far. Now there are those of you who will say, but WBS, surely you realise how poor this discourse is? But I always enjoyed the song ‘Armadillo Man’ by late lamented Microdisney about the anti-Communist who goes to Russia during the height of the Cold War and as the lyrics put it: “Least he went to see the other side”

Also I hate canons. I hate being told that if one is of the left one should only read this that or the other. Nor am I just dipping in and out in order to be vicariously upset. I don’t upset easily – not any more anyhow, and there are few enough opinions on the right that I find I can dismiss out of hand. But I do think it’s vital to understand and engage. Problem being that for understanding and engagement one needs someone of different views to be willing to extend the same courtesy. Which is where these podcasts fall apart on first inspection.

Bill O’Reilly in his Talking Points (you may need iTunes to be running) podcast of 16/11 (drawn from his TV show – if you want the radio broadcasts they’re available too, but ask yourself, having heard the ‘Talking Points’ do you really, really want to listen to an hour of his show?) making a perfectly reasonable statement about the upcoming O.J. Simpson program to be broadcast by the Fox Broadcasting Channel that has an interview with Simpson in which he unburdens himself of the opportunity to demonstrate how he would have murdered his wife, had he done so. O’Reilly, like myself, is non-too-fond of the idea. However, O’Reilly, unlike myself, takes this as an opportunity to berate those with so-called “San Francisco values” who he thinks are ultimately responsible for the program. Er…no, I don’t think so. Anyone with any sensitivity whether left centre or right would consider the idea of such a program well beyond the bounds of taste. Whether I would ban it is a different matter. I feel that Simpson is creating his own particular hell on earth and if this is just another building block in that edifice I’m not going to intervene.

Still, a time also for more than rueful smiles when O’Reilly castigated Fox for producing the program and recommended that his listeners do as he would ‘boycott’ their products and TV offerings. Quite a good idea many would say…but hold on…wait just a second there mister…for could it be that this is precisely the same Fox that presents one Bill O’Reilly to an all too suspecting world? Why yes, yes it would be or as wiki so helpfully notes:

“O’Reilly’s television show, The O’Reilly Factor, is routinely the highest-rated show of the three major U.S. 24-hour cable news channels (CNN, FOX News and MSNBC). The show is taped late in the afternoon at a studio in New York City and airs daily on the FOX News Channel at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time”.

This provides for an enormously entertaining follow up show 17/11 where he ties himself in knots attempting to deflect all blame from himself when pointed out that Fox Broadcasting and Fox News are – er – arms of the same corporation. His deadly riposte? Quote – well paraphrase actually “no they’re not because they’re not the same company and the interview isn’t produced by Fox News’.

And he castigates secular progressives for their moral relativism?

But interesting to note Mark Furhman who was involved in the original case has somewhat more scruples and is reported as likely to drop HarperCollins (another arm of the Murdoch empire) if the OJ book goes ahead. And so would if I were in that position and had had the temerity to raise it as an issue in the first place. Fine to lambaste Fox Broadcasting. I agree with that. But to pretend that he is in some sense outside the Fox ‘family’ is fatuous. How to have avoided this situation, and to have incidentally lent credibility to himself? Why to come out and say – “despite (or because of) the fact I work for one of the Fox companies I find this reprehensible”. One wonders why he didn’t do that.

Whatever the virtues or vices of San Francisco values, my God, they could hardly be worse than the O’Reilly handle of reality.

Meanwhile the Sean Hannity Show. Well, what to say really? On the 14/11 podcast Sean (a good Irish name too, just like O’Reilly) presents us with an interesting interview with MA Governor Mitt Romney. Good man, Sean. Romney is a real ‘Reagan democrat’, socially conservative with a small c, small government but not going to cut government programmes too much etc, etc. And what is he saying? That Bush got it largely wrong, that the Republicans have lost their way and so on and so forth. A civilised and useful ten or so minutes. Hannity is precise, even pointing up the divergence between Romney and some of the base. Fair enough.

The next day Hannity interviews Representative Charlie Rangel, Democratic nominee to head up the Ways and Means Committee in the House, or ‘this powerful committee’ as Sean keeps reiterating. This is far from a civilised 26 minutes. Bad man, Sean. Hannity persistently interrupts, refuses to allow Rangel to finish sentences, changes the question on the trot, demands answers before Rangel has had a chance to put his case and so forth. And continually he charges Rangel with evading the issue, hedging and so on.

I don’t want to go all MediaMatters.org on this and the transcripts will no doubt be put up on the net before long if you can’t spare the time to listen to it.

But, my point is that Hannity is, to any reasonably non-partisan observer (and I have to say that there were issues with both Romney and Rangel that demanded closer attention whatever side of the political divide you stand on) an appallingly partisan interviewer. Dismally so, considering Romney’s message is not – truth be told – that strikingly different from that of Rangel. But even were it wildly divergent it would be nice if there was at least some meeting of minds, some honesty to the exchange rather than a “beggar my neighbour” approach. And Rangel deserves to be fully questioned, he was evasive on certain issues. But there is a difference between a forensic interview and a self serving exchange.

And curiously what also comes across is not how powerful Hannity was, but instead how weak. This is the best he can do? Rhetorical fillibustering in order to prevent the other guy from speaking? It’s lame and it’s rather pathetic and the political discourse demands better. It also sounds as if Hannity doesn’t quite understand either the scope of Rangels new job or the questions he’s asking. Curious stuff.

Thankfully there is better. Much much better with the sort of conversation which those of us from whatever point on the spectrum can get our teeth into and learn a little – which surely is the object of the enterprise? You want round table discussion between liberals and conservatives – and I know I’m always namechecking them, but really, why not? Just go to KCRWs Left Right and Centre. Strangely I’m not a huge fan of the left representative Bob Scheer (as you’ll have perhaps noted here), and I’m not crazy about Ariana Huffington either, but they do well enough to keep me listening for half an hour each week. As I’ve previously noted KCRW’s To The Point is even better. Warren Olmey hosts a program that allows for the sort of insightful discussion approach from all points on the political compass on any given topic. To have even half an understanding of US politics (and I’m always aware of how difficult it is to truly ‘translate’ or map different systems) this is essential. And why now? Because like it or not, as the Home page on this blog puts it so eloquently (that’s more smiffy’s doing than mine I hasten to add), this is a significant period of change where the US is going to shape the political discourse for decades. We need to know this stuff, to know what’s coming down the line. No better guides are available.

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By the by as you’ll no doubt have noticed we have a new contributor to the CLR, further extending the range of viewpoints here.

Welcome aboard franklittle.

Comments»

1. Eagle - November 23, 2006

Something wrong with your last two links.

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2. Eagle - November 23, 2006

I’ve never understood the need to badger a guest during an interview. Ok, some guests tend to babble and run on, but that requires a gentle nudge. The gentle with my friend, badger my opponent interview style is too common by people who lean both left and right. Drives me nuts. I couldn’t listen to Hannity or O’Reilly.

I tend to listen to Bill Bennett, who is more civilized, but very dull. You can listen live to his show at KRLA from Los Angeles.
http://www.krla870.com/

He’s on every day from 11am our time, followed by Laura Ingraham, who’s too annoying, from 2pm. You can get Rush – too caustic – at WMAL (http://www.wmal.com/home.asp) from Washington at 5pm our time.

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3. Eagle - November 23, 2006

By the way, I know people on the left don’t accept this, but I always feel the same way (as you do about Fox, Fox News, etc.) when people who work for the government-owned media talk about other government bodies. There is a pro-government-intervention culture at RTE, which makes sense seeing as RTE is a government-owned business.

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4. WorldbyStorm - November 23, 2006

That’s a very interesting point you make about RTE. I wonder though if that isn’t a hangover from the Reithean BBC style of reporting which sought neutrality rather than polemic. What is your feeling about TV3, do you discern any difference at all?

Wasn’t Bill Bennett in the Reagan administration back in the day?

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5. Eagle - November 24, 2006

I could look it up, but from memory I think Bennett was Secretary for Education under Reagan. He was also the “drug czar” at some point, but not sure if it was before or after he was Sec Ed.

I have never watched one minute of TV3 news, so I can’t comment. I do listen to Newstalk quite a bit and I believe there’s a stronger ‘free market’ ethos than you get on RTE radio.

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6. joemomma - November 24, 2006

I prefer the Sean Hannity comics myself.

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7. truthseeker - March 20, 2010

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