Since I'm aiming to win his old audience, most of whom occasionally listen to Hannity yet don't count as "listeners," he did me a great favor by reading an entire column first published here at Opednews. If Hannity started reading my stuff on his cable program, perhaps Faux News wouldn't be experiencing the ratings trouble it is in.
The event occurred a little after 5pm EST. Hannity had been hyping this "story" he had on me for at least an hour. Calling me "some media guy," Hannity promised his listeners that I got the facts in a column "totally wrong" and ended up making a "fool of [my]self."
That's his opinion. I'll show you how Hannity jumped to false conclusions about my column. In the process, he showed evidence that the crack up of the Corupublican Party has begun to shake even his foundations. I mean, to take on a nobody and lose...
Amazing, you say. I beg to differ. We here at Opednews have known for a long time that figureheads like Sean Hannity read our stuff. Even White House speechwriters read our stuff. We are the most under-rated opinion makers online. We may not have the visibility of Huffpo or Daily Kos, but we're shaping debate in Washington and in politics nationwide.
More on what Hannity said about me to his dwindling audience of roughly 436 stalwarts to come, but first a bit about style...
We realize that there are two levels of debate in American politics, an insight that many highly educated and articulate liberals fail to see. There is the debate of ideas, and there is the posturing war.
Hannity, Limbaugh, and these other media millionaires who pretend to affiliate with working class Americans are keyed in to the posturing wars.
John Kerry and many of his democratic colleagues are keyed into the war of ideas. They're the brains of the Democratic Party, and they are very gifted at what they do.
They tackle highly complex issues in a legal language that would euthanize an adult horse if pumped directly into its ears for even an hour.
They're gifted in politics in the same way that carpenters and secretaries are gifted at building homes and keeping America running. We all have different stations to fill in this life. We all have skills that fit into one profession or another.
For instance, you don't want a guy who failed every business over which his father placed him in charge to be say...president. That would then severely ruin the COUNTRY!
Anyway, toughs like Hannity "read" weakness in idea-based Kerry. He's stiff, he's awkward, he's always ready to apologize and change tactics. Let's face it, he's a 30-year politician.
Kerry speaks a different language than us. Have you ever read a congressional bill? It's like reading Latin...and half of it is. That language has been in Kerry's brain 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, 52 weeks-a-year for 30 years. (God knows why he never took vacations off. I guarantee he thinks about legislation when he's windsurfing.) It doesn't mean he's a bad person, it just incapacitates him in certain ways.
So they attack Kerry, and Hannity's audience tunes in for the brawl. You have to admit that a brawl is exciting. If you've ever boxed, attended a match or even watched one on TV, there's a tremendous thrill when one boxer lands a solid blow. Suddenly people leap to their feet or cheer as one man.
Thomas Paine and many of the founding fathers understood this principal. Paine's "Common Sense" relied heavily on analogies that "punched" the reader in the stomach. For example rape and prostitution were used frequently as metaphors for the relationship between Great Britain and America. Thus the great tradition of our free press began.
Why did the Monica Lewinsky fiasco and the Mark Foley scandal sway voter opinion so effectively? Why does the homosexuality issue work for republicans? Because sexuality is something that any American can relate to. It doesn't matter if a voter is clueless about the function of the US Congress. They have an immediate judgment call on the Mark Foley-esque scandals: right or (in his case) VERY wrong.
Of course there are also people who see issues like bans on gay marriage for what they are...a dirty trick to get voters to vote for issues of sexuality rather than real policies and ideas.
It just so happens that I'm well equipped for the posturing wars. I've educated myself in this style for the past eight years with helpful tutelage from Gengrich and Lott and later, Hannity. It all started back in high school. The day's New York Times invariably lay around, half-read, on the kitchen table. I used to pore through the political articles, taking note of the superior ability of Trent Lott and even Tom DeLay to pack enormous punch and message into 12 words or less.
Meanwhile the Dem sound bytes were complex and chopped down into confusing babble. You missed the point and forgot the content of the democrat's , but remembered the republican's.
Lott and his allies never backed down. They sounded "tough" in their quotes. Democrats always sounded like they were prevaricating. I knew Democrats were endangered species long before Bush won...they never saw what hit them.
Our recognition of the pugilistic style at Opednews and our effectiveness are what really make Hannity feel threatened. He sees greatness in our writing, and it worries him.
I always tell friends that I respect Hannity's talent. There's no question...he's good at what he does.
Think about it: he helps influence millions of Americans to support a party funded by the greediest corporations in the world.
Thus he's a Republican company spokesperson: Hannity is here to convince us that the flat tires, busted-out windows and missing engine of the lemon we were sold on the run up to the Iraq War are merely aesthetic differences in taste. Hannity's two corporate strides away to sooth our temper when we actually see this heap of junk delivered to its grave in our backyard.
The difference between him and me? I'm not getting paid anything for my writing. I work ten hour weekdays and blog nights and weekends. Hannity back slaps with the King himself.
In all fairness, I occasionally find myself agreeing with him. I mean, I'm no fan of celebrity idolatry. I'm no fan of sexual lust run rampant, but that's not the government's issue.
Additionally, I do believe that marriage--whether or not you believe the Bible is the word of God--is a practice that comes from thousands of years of experience and insight. We've largely thrown it out in America even though many people find the most fulfillment in a monogamous relationship. It's certainly the healthiest.
We should be free, sexually, to do what we choose here in America. That's what makes us such a great country and different from places like Iran. It also gives us the opportunity to learn how to resist a lot of temptation. As a result we mature into stronger people if and when we succeed in avoiding the pitfalls of greed, lust, etc.
I kind of admire Hannity when he takes on a guy rooting to see Britney Spears's breasts in public and asks the guy if he spends nights in his underwear in the basement watching porn. Rampant, unchecked lust has corrosive effects...again, thousands of years of insight in that Bible--believe it or not. Of course there's one extreme and then another. Somewhere in the middle there's an answer.
Hannity would be wrong, however, to try to regulate a person's private life unless they are harming someone or breaking a law. We all have to arrive at a place where if we choose monogamy or celibacy it is our own decision, and unfortunately it takes some of us a while. Regulations from the government aren't going to fix human sexuality.
I also disagree with Hannity on the role of the US Government when it comes to role-backs on regulations that protect the environment (climate change is so dangerous). I don't believe our government should favor corporations at all. They should favor main street. I don't believe in wiretapping and random searches without warrant. I take issue with our dubious justifications for sacking and occupying the oil rich Middle East at tremendous costs. It is a terrific gamble with our future. Bush won't be around to pay up when the loan sharks come for us.
Some people on the left disagree with my tactics. But I know, and Hannity knows deep down in his heart (if and when he ever goes there), that I stand with righteousness on my side.
At base I care about our children and the world we're giving them. I care passionately about our country. And I might not say what people want to hear, but I'm not around to flatter the greedy.
For instance, we used to believe in sacrifice in this country. Now we scoff at paying taxes. Essentially we scoff at paying for the roads we drive on, the schools we put our children through and the support we give our elders and sick in need.
"That's not our responsibility," Americans like to say nowadays. "Let somebody else pay for that. I don't want to pay for anything I use. I want it all for free so I can spend MY MONEY on porn, booze and thrills."
At base, Hannity, along with the Corupublican Party, wants to repeal the few laws left that criminalize corporate terrorism against the American people whether by accounting fraud, by environmental pillage or by limitless indentured servitude ($5 an hour).
This, I imagine, is as philosophical as I will ever get at Opednews. The gloves come back on tomorrow. But I'm truly honored to know that out of all the thousands of people who write erroneous stuff about Hannity, he seizes on my (accurate column) to take issue with.
It's more than a coincidence. Opednews has arrived.
Now, about Hannity's tirade.
I'm gonna go lightly on him. He's kind of become a softy lately. All those millions of dollars he's earned may have dulled his appetite. I'm starving.
Lately, one is more apt to hear him playing father-figure to a younger caller (usually a woman) than laying into Alec Baldwin with a mantra of ugly words and personal attacks. (Mark Levin went so far as to attack Baldwin's weight in the above incident.) Since Hannity's gone soft lately, I'll take it easy on him.
On to the Hannity attack.
Hannity claims I got a column wrong. He's referring to this column.
What was my big mistake?
As it turns out, nothing. The mistake was Hannity's. Hannity erred in his interpretation of some particular words.
Hannity has a little clip he likes to play. It's Senator Ted Kennedy at the National Press Club in January of 2005. He doesn't like to play the whole thing, mind you.
He plays one small little snippet: "Why don't we just ask Osama bin, Osama, Obama, Obama." That is is the audio clip he likes to play, spoken by Kennedy.
Here is that clip in context: "Why don't we just ask Osama bin -- Osama Obama -- Obama what -- since he won by such a big amount. Seriously, Senator Obama is really unique and special."
An even longer quote would include the laurels bestowed upon the elegant and gifted freshman senator from Illinois.
But Hannity's not interested in giving Senator Barrack Obama good press. He's interested in exploiting a slip of tongue that happened nearly two years ago to pull a "Micheal Richards" on Obama.
Hannity is effectually saying, "Throw his ass out! He's a _____!....Look there's a _____!" He's saying, "Throw his ass out by not voting for him! Look there's an ethnic man! He's a black man whose name rhymes with Osama Bin Laden's!" If that's not what he's doing, what is he doing by playing this 2-year-old clip?
On the day I called him out, he happened to play this clip directly after talking about Obama's possible presidential aspirations.
So I'm not wrong in asserting that the clip is severely edited. It IS severely edited. Hannity edited out everything but the Obama/Osama part. He played only 6 seconds of an hour long sermon from Pastor Ted Kennedy.
I double checked with Webster on the definition of "severe" for Hannity's benefit. "Severe" is an adjective whose definition includes "of a great degree." Hannity's playing one-fifth of one percent of Kennedy's speech. Is that not severe editing? I would be wrong if Hannity had played three-quarters of the speech. If I had meant doctored, I would have written doctored.
Okay! So far so good. Now Hannity takes issue with the following:
"[I]t sounded like a skipping record, except an 's' sound was added in a strategic places.
To describe it linguistically, I will need your full creative participation: 'Oba, ama, bama, o, os, ama, sama, o, sama, bama.'"
Hannity obviously doesn't appreciate the lengths to which a good writer will go to entertain his audience.
Hannity thought I was accusing him of adding an "s" sound into the edited clip. When I wrote that an "s" was added in strategic places, that was my way of bringing the reader into the experience of "hearing" the subliminal message behind this clip. I was my way of prompting the listeners to anticipate what this severely edited clip was going to "sound" like and where Hannity's mind is going.
I didn't say that Hannity added the "s." Show me where I did, and I'll apologize. So did I "got it all wrong?" Have I "made a fool of [my]self?." No.
The "oba, ama, bama..." re-write was merely another way of letting the reader "hear" what it sounded like, and it did sound like that. Good read through by the way, Mr. Hannity. My words probably went a long way toward cleaning up the accumulative rot in your mouth.
Here's more of what I wrote:
"Yeah, that's as in Bin Laden. Hannity would denounce racism in one breath and then exploit the similarities in sounds between Obama's foreign-sounding name (he's ethnic) and Osama's, who is the world's most reviled terrorist and expect to get a free pass?"
Am I incorrect? What's Hannity doing? He was talking about Obama's possible presidential aspirations and then he plays this six-second slip-of-tongue from two years ago. The clip subliminally associates Obama's name with Osama's. Hannity never explained why he played the clip. The clip certainly wasn't newsworthy, in fact the generous expiration date had passed some time in February 2005.
"It's pure slander. To associate one of the most decent politicians in Washington with the world's most hated murderer....Hannity smiles the whole time. He knows damn well what he's doing. He knows how his audience thinks. He knows the dark racist corners of their minds."
Hannity tried to raise a lynching party to get me for pointing out that the 400 hard-core Hannity fans have dark racist corners in their minds. Well, it's just a sorry fact of life, and Hannity, your listeners would be the first to agree that it's there.
On "slander." If Rep. Chippy Bickering from Mississippi can call Charlie Rangel's rhetorical question, "Who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?" slander, then I can call Hannity's attempt to associate Barrack Obama with Osama bin Laden slander.
To get to the bottom of this post feels like climbing a precipitous mountain. I've vindicated myself from Hannity's false accusations. I've made him look ridiculous for: (1) getting his muckraking story on me so appallingly wrong; (2) calling additional attention to his own "Michael Richards" on Barrack Obama; (3) taking issue with a guy (me) who is not nationally syndicated on radio and host of a cable Faux News program.
I wonder if Hannity will apologize to Barrack Obama for using his position of influence to exploit the similarities between Obama's name and Osama bin Laden's. Kennedy made a slip of tongue, Hannity is playing the clip over and over again two years later for subliminal effect.
I wonder if Hannity will apologize to me for slandering me on national radio. He called me a "dumb, dopey, ignorant columnist writer."
In closing, Hannity, I just got citizenship to Ireland. I'm a Reilly on my mother's side. Our roots may be closer than you care to admit. I'm one of the few descendants who did ol' Erin proud and embraced the Democratic Party.
I hope some day you take a little time to think critically about what you have done in this life. It's never too late to change until it is, and there is one judge you will never fool.
My best to you, sir. I pray for you.