Entries Tagged as 'Sean Hannity'

That’s Show Business

David Frum July 22nd, 2011 at 10:10 am 26 Comments

I’d normally applaud Ann Coulter’s sentiment here.

Sean Hannity has openly declared war on Bill Maher for the onslaught of vulgarities on last Friday’s Real Time, and while for the rest of the week Hannity bashed Maher with impunity, today he faced a bit of a predicament: interviewing one of Maher’s oldest media friends, Ann Coulter. Coulter distanced herself from his opinions but refused to comment as to him personally, instead beaming that he was a “true and loyal friend.”

Hannity began his interview with Coulter with his familiar laundry list of grievances against Maher: “it seems like he’s more angry, more bitter, more liberal, more hateful,” but no one stood up to him. He also noted he was not “going to spend a lot of time on him because he gets too much attention,” to which Coulter retorted, “from you!” She then addressed Hannity’s complaints, half in jest– “you want me to have no other friends than you, Sean Hannity”– half in earnest. “I obviously don’t believe in his politics, I like him, he’s a true and loyal friend, he always has been” she noted.

Friendships that transcend political divisions are healthy for everyone, and especially for public figures. If more of those who lead public debate spent more time listening with attention to people who see the world in different ways, then surely that debate would improve.

But given that Coulter and Maher both treat politics as a form of jihad against the forces of ignorance and wrong, with nothing to be said for opposing views, isn’t there something weird in the ease with which they disregard their own narrative the moment the TV lights dim? That’s not the way they’d act if they believed the things they say. Happily, it seems that both of them recognize that what they do in public is a performance, a show, to be separated from real life. Good & welcome – but also a warning to their respective fans: Don’t take your favorite TV personalities’ politics more seriously than they do themselves.

Conservative Media’s Pay-To-Play Deals

David Frum June 15th, 2011 at 4:23 pm 95 Comments

Why are conservatives so ready to accept behaviors in their own media that they themselves would damn as outrageous if they occurred in non-conservative media? This is an issue I address in my latest column for The Week.

Regular listeners to the Rush Limbaugh program will rarely, if ever, hear the broadcaster cite the work of the American Enterprise Institute. Or the Cato Institute. Or the Manhattan Institute. Or other right-of-center think tanks.

The rival Heritage Foundation does, however, get frequent and favorable mention on the most popular conservative talk show in America. In part, Heritage owes this attention to Limbaugh’s genuine admiration for the institution:

“There were a lot of people who nobody ever heard of who were responsible for people like me all over the country amassing and acquiring knowledge that’s not available in a classroom anywhere, or not very many classrooms, and then being able to explain it to people who have not been able to access that information. These are academics, people that work at think tanks, laboring in the basements in anonymity, writing, researching, publishing so that people like me — I include Mr. Buckley, but he was well known — but were are all kinds of people who were producing brilliant things, research, opinion pieces that I was able to access, and I was an omnivorous and voluminous reader when it came to public policy and current events and history and things.

“One of the places that was invaluable to me in acquiring a bedrock or foundation, understanding of conservatism — and Mr. Buckley was one, of course, and Ronald Reagan — but the Heritage Foundation, and to this day we quote work that comes out of the Heritage Foundation …”

But there’s another reason that Heritage gets such unique and favorable treatment on the Limbaugh program. It pays for it.

Politico reports:

“The Heritage Foundation pays about $2 million to sponsor Limbaugh’s show and about $1.3 million to do the same with Hannity’s — and considers it money well spent.

“‘We approach it the way anyone approaches advertising: Where is our audience that wants to buy what you sell?’ Genevieve Wood, Heritage’s vice president for operations and marketing. ‘And their audiences obviously fit that model for us. They promote conservative ideas and that’s what we do.’

“Last month, in the midst of a flurry of scrutiny of GOP presidential candidates’ stances on health insurance mandates similar to one included in the 2010 Democratic healthcare overhaul, Limbaugh took to the airwaves to defend Heritage’s past support for such a proposal.

“‘The Heritage Foundation to this day says they are being impugned and misrepresented in terms of their advocacy for such a thing,’ Limbaugh said, explaining that the venerable think tank ‘abandoned the idea once they saw it implemented’ and realized ‘it doesn’t work’ …”

(Read the whole Politico story here.)

Understand: We are not talking about commercials, separated from the main flow of editorial content. Heritage work is embedded and inserted directly into the editorial flow of the Limbaugh program, as if selected without regard to the money paid.

Also understand: It’s not just Limbaugh, and it’s not just Heritage.

Heritage pays for similar treatment on Sean Hannity’s radio program. FreedomWorks pays for mentions on the Glenn Beck show. Americans for Prosperity pays to be promoted on Mark Levin’s show. The endorsements often obscure the paid-for nature of the broadcaster’s endorsement.

Ditto for the relentless advocacy of gold purchases by almost every radio host.

Just imagine if the CBS Evening News were to accept $2 million from a pharmaceutical company, and then run news spots about the excellent benefits from taking that company’s medication. Imagine if the Los Angeles Times accepted $2 million from a company promoting a natural gas pipeline, and then published editorials advocating government approval of the pipeline route. Imagine if columnists at the Financial Times accepted money to tout British bonds or German stocks.

Shocking, right? Yet for millions of Americans, conservative talk radio is a news source much more trusted than CBS or the Los Angeles Times or the Financial Times.

Read the rest of the column here.

Fox News: Feminist Champion

David Frum November 20th, 2009 at 10:40 am 50 Comments

On the Fox News site today, I clicked a link to a Sean Hannity interview with Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

Hannity opened the item by blasting Newsweek‘s cover story on Gov. Palin as “blatantly sexist.” He asked, “What is behind this double standard?”

At about the 3:11 minute mark, Hasselbeck offers this answer to the host’s questions: “When I saw that I was infuriated, as most women should be. It is as you said blatantly sexist. Where now is the National Organization for Women? Where are they? Where are they when a conservative woman is being reduced to that sort of cover?”

Hannity chimed in: “It seems to come down to a really basic litmus test whether women’s groups will support you or not.”

Good point! While some women can be sexually objectified with impunity by the liberal lamestream media, others get protected. Yep, it’s a litmus test. One question though. About an inch below the box in which Hannity and Hasselback joined to denounce leching and leering, was a smaller icon that linked to this item.



Question for Fox: what litmus test did these women flunk?

PS – in reply to reader TXANNE, I do agree that the Newsweek cover was sensational and inappropriate. Whatever games Palin may be playing with her admirers do not excuse news sources from playing similar games with their readers.

The Reckless Right Courts Violence

David Frum August 13th, 2009 at 1:19 pm 90 Comments

A man bearing a sidearm appears outside President Obama’s Aug. 11 town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., under a sign proclaiming, “It is time to water the tree of liberty.”

That phrase of course references a famous statement of Thomas Jefferson’s, from a 1787 letter: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.”

Earlier that same day, another man is arrested inside the school building in which the president will speak. Police found a loaded handgun in his parked car.

At an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona last week, police were called after one attendee dropped a gun.

Nobody has been hurt so far. We can all hope that nobody will be. But firearms and politics never mix well. They mix especially badly with a third ingredient: the increasingly angry tone of incitement being heard from right-of-center broadcasters.

The Nazi comparisons from Rush Limbaugh; broadcaster Mark Levin asserting that President Obama is “literally at war with the American people”; former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin claiming that the president was planning “death panels” to extirpate the aged and disabled; the charges that the president is a fascist, a socialist, a Marxist, an illegitimate Kenyan fraud, that he “harbors a deep resentment of America,” that he feels a “deep-seated hatred of white people,” that his government is preparing concentration camps, that it is operating snitch lines, that it is planning to wipe away American liberties”: All this hysterical and provocative talk invites, incites, and prepares a prefabricated justification for violence.

And indeed some conservative broadcasters are lovingly anticipating just such an outcome.

Here’s Fox News’ Glenn Beck clucking sympathetically that white males are being driven into murderous rage by “political correctness.”

Here again is Beck chuckling as he play-acts the poisoning of Nancy Pelosi.

Just yesterday, the radio host Sean Hannity openly contemplated violence—and primly tut-tutted that if it occurs, the president will have only himself to blame.

Hyperbolic accusation and fantasy murder may well serve a talk-radio industry facing a collapse in advertising revenues—down 30–40 percent over the past two years, reports FrumForum.com’s Tim Mak.

As revenues dwindle, hosts feel compelled to intensify the talk-radio experience, hoping to win larger audience share with more extreme talk. It’s like the early days of the pornography industry: At first a naked woman is thrilling enough, but soon a jaded audience is demanding more and more, wilder and wilder.

For the radio hosts, it’s all mostly a cynical marketing exercise. But the audience? Not all of them know better.

In April, the Department of Homeland Security released a report warning of the danger of right-wing political violence in the United States, and mainstream conservatives erupted in offense.

National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg wrote: My real objection to this report is that its source material amounts to “everybody knows.” Everybody knows the right is full of whack-jobs, hatemongers, and killers, and if we don’t remain vigilant, bad things will happen.

Michelle Malkin asked in her syndicated column: What and who exactly are President Obama’s Homeland Security officials afraid of these days? If you are a member of an active conservative group that opposes abortion, favors strict immigration enforcement, lobbies to protect Second Amendment rights, protests big government, advocates federalism or represents veterans who believe in any of the above, the answer is: You.

Newt Gingrich tweeted: “The person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired.”

I don’t think the former speaker could tweet such a thing today in good conscience. The person who drafted that homeland security memo has gained very good reason to be worried. The guns are coming out. The risks are real.

It’s not enough for conservatives to repudiate violence, as some are belatedly beginning to do. We have to tone down the militant and accusatory rhetoric. If Barack Obama really were a fascist, really were a Nazi, really did plan death panels to kill the old and infirm, really did contemplate overthrowing the American constitutional republic—if he were those things, somebody should shoot him.

But he is not. He is an ambitious, liberal president who is spending too much money and emitting too much debt. His health-care ideas are too over-reaching and his climate plans are too interventionist. The president can be met and bested on the field of reason—but only by people who are themselves reasonable.

Originally published in The Week.

Read David Frum’s follow-up post here.