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Jewish World Review June 12, 2003 / 12 Sivan 5763

Steve Young

Steve Young
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Consumer Reports

A lib's (maybe) last love letter to Sean Hannity | As you might have read, my last column ("I Want To Be Sean Hannity" 6/2, linked at bottom) spoke to my seeming adoration of Sean Hannity, a conservative talk show host I disagree with 98.786% (statistical major) of the time. Since I disagree with most conservative hosts OVER 100% of the time, obviously Sean was someone...peculiar. And when I say "peculiar" I mean it in a good way. Not a great way. After all, I am a liberal.

My rationale for my grudging admiration came from Sean's willingness to bring on opposing viewpoints. Opposing viewpoints from actual intelligent politicos. Is this a big deal? Well, not being the biggest fan of Sean's politics, it just might be the best I'll get. But it is something.

Some ten years ago talk radio over the AM dial when the big guy captured the ditto'd hearts and minds of what was once to be called "the silent majority." So much for silence. And it was he they wanted to hear. No need for hearing the opposition. They had it up to here with them. Then the floodgates opened. Every Xerox'd pretender who followed did so with much of the same. Even the soft-spoken, No Spin Meister, who brings on those with opposing view points, has a tendency to demean and scream them out of the studio.

Monologuing an argument is no challenge. Try it. Go into a room alone and say the most idiotic thing you can think of. Maybe even say something that is the opposite of what you know to be the truth. Go ahead. Anyone say different? No argument? No debate? Guess it's the truth.

Y'see, half a truth is no truth at all - no matter what side of the aisle. It is only a biased, agenda-driven, political commercial.

Worse is the presumption of your opponent's response or your defining their underlying evil intent, which amazingly supports your argument. It's a pure guess at best, fictionally myopic and a lie at worst.

When's the last time you heard a talk show host say his opponent's positive message was correct and meant to benefit you? Does it not occur to you that the thesis which provides that your opponent is wrong nearly 100% of the time might be suspect?

Political diatribing and speech-making should be left to the politicians -- or partisan columnists.

Still, my dear conservative friends. I come not to bury talk radio -- I'd like to, but I don't have a big enough shovel. I come to 'splain my experience with it.

Complimenting Hannity from the outside is one thing, but just listening to someone on the radio is much different from being a caller or better, an actual guest -- someone who had experienced a give and take relationship -- someone who had the pleasure of his argument being made - someone whose mike volume was reduced when the host decided to interrupt -- so my passion for Sean remained one of those long distanced, unrequited, unaired affairs.

And then...the phone rang. Heart be still. Could it be? I couldn't dare...

"Hello, Steve..."

I couldn't mistake that voice.

"This is James."

Okay. I had mistaken that voice. But it didn't matter for it was Sean's producer booking me as a guest for The Sean Hannity Show. Just imagine, I would be following in the guesting footsteps of the fabulous Bill Bennett, Matt Drudge, Mark Levin and a host of other legends that I can't stomach. But, and this is a huge grudging but I would also be following in the footsteps of those on the adversarial side of Mr. Hannity. Democratic legislators, progressive pundits and the worst of the worst, Hollywood liberals.

I won't go into the specifics of our conversation. Obviously all of America heard it. The question is, did Sean's actions during the interview support my original (yikes!) glowing supposition?

Did Sean allow me to express my views, opposing as they might be? Yes. Did he lower my volume when he wanted to interrupt? Yes, but I did get in what I wanted to get in.

So, was there anything wrong with the way Sean handled our interview? Did he treat me different than the manner he portends with his pals. The answer: Yes. Big time! He did the worst of the worst. The biggest faux pas a talk show host could commit.

He didn't plug my book. And for that, I will never forgive him. But Flipper? She be da bomb.

JWR contributor Steve Young, Prism Award winner and Humanitas Prize nominee for his television writing, is contributing editor at the Writers Guild of America's "Written By" magazine. He is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Stepping Stones to Success," "The 130 Tales of Winchell Mink," Harper Collins (Winter, 2003) and the director/writer of "My Dinner With Ovitz." His website is Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Steve Young