Selected Pete

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

Hewitt VS CNN’s Ed Henry – Civility Lost

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Hugh Hewitt recently took CNN’s Ed Henry to task over CNN’s coverage of the Alito SCOTUS hearings, and invites readers to analyze the transcript, so I will make a modest attempt here because this is an issue near and dear to my heart, and I found the interview to be a fascinating read from a couple of angles.

First, let me begin by saying that I agree with Hewitt’s premise on this, that CNN is liberal at its core, and agonizingly so. It would be one (remarkable) thing if CNN were liberal at its core and remained objective in its approach and coverage, but alas I cannot say that. Many of my blog entries allude to this in one way or another.

One thing I have always appreciated about Hugh Hewitt’s style is that he is typically very civil to his opponents, and will even (in the case of Erwin Chemerinsky, for example) allow a liberal to have the last word. You don’t get that often from folks on either side of the aisle.

This interview began in a very cordial fashion with the admission by both sides that the debate so far was in good spirit (it was a continuation from another show), and I think Hugh did a great job of arguing his point. What I really failed to see was a public clobbering, or, a fool made. I try to read and hear both left and right as objectively as I can, and often times I will put myself in the liberal’s chair to see what emotions and attitudes are projected by the opposing conservative. My aim in blogging is to really open and change minds, and this “devil’s advocacy” for lack of better term, is an internal tool I use to see if I am convincing to the other side.

As I read the transcript, I became more and more uncomfortable for Ed Henry toward the end, because it really appeared to me (just reading the black and white) that Henry made a very good and clear point that he did not control the guests or programming on Larry King, and that he was not prepared to opine on the appropriateness of that lineup. That in itself is no big “A-haa!!” moment in the interview.

What followed was a gradual spiral that quickened in pace and desperation, and it appeared that Hugh was insisting on a response of some kind as though this point were the most salient of the whole show. To make matters worse, he repeatedly hit Ed with requests for who he voted for in the 2004 election, which I think just made things much worse and finally caused the man to hang up. I think it was painfully obvious to most listeners and viewers that the King lineup was ludicrous, but I think the interview lost a great deal of civility because Hugh antagonized his guest and forced an issue that really did not make or break the original argument.

For his part, Ed Henry politely stayed on what appeared to be a lengthened segment with cross-hairs neatly pinned betwixt the eyes, and made it clear that he needed to and wanted to leave for other engagements. It was here that I think Hugh lost the upper ground by forcing the issue of the King show and Ed’s voter record. In the end, Hugh explained the wickets he had to go through to get Henry on that segment to begin with, but I have to be critical of him here (one of a very few instances) because the last bit of the show spiraled very quickly into what looked to me like an ambush and desperation.

Sorry Hugh – I love you man, and I think you were rightly arguing a point, but if someone backed me into a corner that way and I was on the receiving end of that transcript, I probably would have hung up on you too.

Steve Cherry of SelectedPete.com
San Diego, CA

Radio Blogger

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Written by selectedpete

January 19, 2006 at 11:39 am

Posted in selectedpete

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