Thursday, November 12, 2009

Act of Neo-Contrition

So last night, Fox News host Sean Hannity did something many will call shocking, some will call phony and insincere, and I'll call, at the very least, uncharacteristic of his network and those it speaks for: he apologized.

At the end of his show, which as usual featured an hour of unrestrained Obama-bashing and GOP cheerleading, Hannity copped to something he in many ways had no choice but to cop to -- at least if he wanted FNC to be able to maintain the illusion that it's a legitimate news network. He admitted that Jon Stewart was right when, two nights ago, the host of The Daily Show pointed out that Hannity and company had run video of a September Tea Bagger rally on Capitol Hill during a story about last week's Tea Bagger rally. The difference? Maybe 40 or 50-thousand people. Stewart's point was that it looked as if Hannity had used the old footage of the much bigger crowd to try to hype the numbers at the more recent protest; what made The Daily Show staff apparently think that Hannity's deception was deliberate -- aside from the fact that it would take a 6-year-old with Down Syndrome to mix up file footage with brand new video -- were the startlingly obvious differences in the images themselves: leaves still on the trees in the September clip, people in late-summer short sleeves versus mid-fall coats and scarves, etc.

Regardless, Hannity now says he's sorry:

"Although it pains me to say this, Jon Stewart, Comedy Central, he was right. Now on his program last night, he mentioned that we had played some inccorect video on this program last week while talking about the Republican health care rally on Capitol Hill. He was correct, we screwed up. we aired some video of a rally in September along with a video from the actual event. It was an inadverdent mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. So, Mr. Stewart, you were right. We apologize. But by the way, we wanna thank you and all your writers for watching."

You've almost gotta admire Hannity for managing to come off as both contrite and a smarmy little prick to the end. More on that in a minute, though.

If you're asking yourself right now whether Sean Hannity really is sorry that his show ran a bad piece of video -- one that regardless of intent would've mislead the viewer into thinking that last week's Frootloopalooza was on the scale of September's -- you're obviously not familiar with the Fox News Channel or right-wing punditry in general these days. True, Hannity made the somewhat surprising and magnanimous gesture of admitting to an error and crediting the right's mortal enemies at The Daily Show for busting him on it. Contrast that with Rush Limbaugh's response a few weeks ago when confronted with the news that he'd just spent an entire radio show angrily railing against Barack Obama for writing a college thesis decrying the Constitution, when in reality the paper in question had never even existed -- the article he got the story from was nothing more than satire. Limbaugh didn't give a crap that he'd just made what any well-adjusted person would consider a monumental ass out of himself; "I don't care if these quotes are made up, I know Obama thinks it," was his jaw-droppingly defiant response. So yeah, the fact that simply admitting you fucked up is such a big deal isn't so much a nod to, say, Fox News's reputation for honesty and respectability as it is proof of how far we've lowered the bar when it comes to what we expect from the right's obstinate mouthpieces.

Once again, Hannity pretty much had to man up because he may not have a responsibility to the truth but, unlike Limbaugh, he has a responsibility to the illusion. He couldn't not concede that the video his show aired was essentially a lie because no matter how much we all know that it's bullshit, Fox still goes to great lengths to bill itself as an unbiased news network. There are some things that are beyond the pale, even for a nominal news outlet that slants drastically in one direction: You can't run one piece of video and say it's something else.

Did Sean Hannity's show really make an "inadvertent mistake?" Probably not. Like I said, something like that is a very hard mistake to make. Is Hannity really sorry for the screw-up? No, of course not; he's sorry he got caught, and his less-than-humble admission that he'd been busted -- right down to getting in that last little barb in his retraction, the one that's the trademark faux-genteel "fuck you" of all official Fox responses to critics -- is the tip of the cards that lets Fox acolytes know that while he's conceding this battle to the enemy, it's being done with a wink and crossed-fingers.

Because in the end, Fox News still wins the war.


jb said...

Jon Stewart should definitely thank him for giving him a never-ending supply of material. Of course THE DAILY SHOW writers have to watch Hannity!

Chris said...

I think this says it best:
Ode to Sean Hannity
by John Cleese

Aping urbanity
Oozing with vanity
Plump as a manatee
Faking humanity
Journalistic calamity
Intellectual inanity
Fox Noise insanity
You’re a profanity

SavageAphid said...

I hope you are aware that it would take a real mouth-breathing chimp to use the phrase "a 6-year-old with Down Syndrome" as a stand in for the word idiot.

Making fun of the rich and powerful is a noble pursuit, making fun of the unfortunate and the weak is a cowards game.

Mike said...

Hey Chez, You called Hannity a "little prick" on Huffpo.

You are quite a man for that in your circle I guess.

In my circle you are a coward Chez.

How exactly is that said, Chez as in Cheesy or Shay, or She?

LOL, smarmy little prick indeed.

Deacon Blue said...


One could argue that his point was that even an idiot wouldn't make that mistake...only a child with not only lack of worldly experience but ALSO a developmental make that mistake.

Even if it's a stand-in for "idiot," it's not like Chez is the poster boy for political correctness...and being PC is starting to become damn near an oppressive religion these days.

SavageAphid said...

@Deacon Blue

That was his point exactly.

I don't know anything about this religion that is trying to oppress you. I'm not doing anything other than calling out a comment made in bad taste. I agree with the point and everyone is welcome to be tacky, I was moved to comment because I've come to expect a little better than a cheap funny at the expense of a particularly vulnerable group of people.

Burns said...

I'm sorry, but I don't see where Chez is making fun of a particularly vulnerable group of people. A child with down syndrome obviously does not have a high intelligence - I think we can all concede that point can't we? He didn't even compare anyone TO a 6 year old with down syndrome, he simply pointed out that it would take someone with that level of intelligence to mix up file footage and new video.

So unless you're saying that pointing out that a child with down syndrome has a diminished mental capacity is insulting, I don't quite understand your problem. I mean honestly, putting up a big "never mention the disabilities of the disabled" sign on anything that someone might be sensitive about is just silly. Sure, the D.S. child can't really defend himself in this situation, but if he/she could, then the comparison would never be made in the first place - if, in fact, there really is anything to be offended at. Any humor derived from the comparison (and I tend to believe that the feeling most associated with that sentence is frustration at how Fox can have the balls to try to get away with the crap it pulls - not humor) would be directed at Hannity, not at children with D.S.

Oh yes, and the "religion trying to oppress" that Deacon mentioned is right there in your original posting - you call Chez a "mouth breathing chump" for using the phrase. That seems a far cry from the civil discourse one would expect if you were trying to take the high road and point out the insulting nature of his statement (which I still don't see). In fact, by your own logic, you go on ahead and insult another particularly vulnerable group of people - mouth-breathers. You use the word as a synonym for stupid/ignorant/etc., but did you ever stop to consider the feelings of the mouth-breathing population? Perhaps they have a physical disability that prevents them from breathing through their nose. In fact, there is a condition known as Long Face Syndrome which can develop as a result of facial abnormalities that cause mouth breathing and can only be corrected through surgery involving a dramatic shift of the entire upper jaw.

But back to my point - if you're offended by what Chez says, then hurling about insults in an attempt to get him to change his ways IS oppressive, it is a form of intimidation used to get your way - hardly the act of an enlightened individual. THAT is where political correctness has gone awry. Perhaps you should reflect upon the fact that a better solution, a more civil and more illustrative solution would be a polite exchange that expresses your view, informs him of why you find it offensive (because I really am trying and just don't get it), and then you can make the choice to stop reading, or to continue until he pushes you past the point where you can ignore his transgressions, and then stop reading. Meanwhile, you can have made your point (which Chez would happily post - I have seen some downright offensive things directed towards him posted here), and if you choose not to read, or others choose not to read, it is Chez who can look inside himself and ask whether or not he has gone too far. If enough people feel that way, then he will have no audience and you will be vindicated.

Of course, I doubt that would happen - I think you are just being oversensitive - but you can have done your part, in a positive way, in making the world a better place (at least according to you, because let's be honest, it really does end up being majority rule on these kinds of things). Sometimes you may win, sometimes you may lose, but at least you won't be getting down in the proverbial mud and in the long run we will all be the better for it.

Now wasn't that a much better post than me simply saying "hey asshole, f*ck off if you don't like it around these parts"? I think so.

Capt. A. Clown said...

Saying "hey asshole, f*ck off if you don't like it around these parts" is better for Carpal Tunnel.

...That's MY excuse anyway...

Deacon Blue said...

Savage Aphid,

If you concede that I am right about how Chez used it, and you can still say he's belittling Down syndrome children, then you missed my point, which I perhaps made too subtly.

So, in the same tradition as having to explain a joke, let me destroy my point by belaboring the explanation of it:

1. Not even the most idiotic human in TV news would make that mistake

2. Therefore, to make that mistake, you would instead have to be someone with no conception of how TV news works and no hope of every conceiving, say, being a very young developmentally disabled child. This is NOT the same as saying you have to be stupider than an idiot, but rather an example of someone who has a legitimate EXCUSE to make that mistake.

3. Since the folks at FOX are at least idiot level humans without learning disabilities, they clearly did what they did on purpose, and not on accident, as a developmentally disabled person would.

This is not making fun of Down syndrome kids in my eyes, because it simply recognizes that they are a group that is a good example of someone who could be assumed to have made a mistake like this, as opposed to doing something intentionally misleading.

But you will no doubt now assume that I am saying that Down syndrome kids are the stupidest people alive, even though I didn't just say that.

And my objections to the psycho level of political correctness in the world right exemplified by your reaction...has already been examined above.

Norm said...

Damn, how long did you spend writing this? Who cares? Footage mistakes happen all the time.

Write about something worthwhile.

Vermillion said...

I am kinda more amazed at "Mike" being offended by the "little prick" remark. Does this mean underdeveloped genitalia are off-limits too? Since when?

Although, he does bring up an interesting point: I too have no idea how to say your name, Chez.

Of course, I am not a little prick, but if you still feel like answering that for me, I would appreciate it greatly.

Douglas Holgate said...

I'm actually suprised that he did concede. Especially over something that in his typically petulant smarmy prick way he could conceivably argue for eg: It was file footage we didn't label properly, we were talking about the tea parties in general etc.

So a concession over this is great but not nearly as satisfying as an admission and an apology over his past efforts. Namely selectively clipping actual speeches to make his ridiculous points -

Sheriff Bart said...

I was going to write the word "retard" 1000 times here just because I can. Then I remembered I'm a lazy bastard.
Oops. I probably just offended the motivationally challenged fatherless persons who may be reading. For that I am sorry.

Anonymous said...

Lord knows I'm not PC (What's better than winning the Special Olympics?), and snark is one of the things I love about this site, but there's a plethora of other examples of lack of intelligence (" idiot/monkey/Sarah Palin could have...") that could have been used - and, I think, to greater effect. Because now conversation is focused on your choice of words, rather than the topic itself.

I couldn't help but wonder, if your/his (I feel weird saying "your" to an internet entity) daughter had DS, if you would have said that.

I'd bet not.

Chez said...

Two things, Norm: First of all, the point of the piece was that what Hannity's show did wasn't a "footage mistake"; it was done purposely and he just happened to get caught. As I said and am now drawing all kinds of fire for, having worked in TV for a very long time -- 17 years longer than, say, you -- I can pretty much guarantee that it'd take a 6-year-old with Down Syndrome to screw up something like that.

Second, you're absolutely right about how I should write something more to your liking. Because of course I let it slip my mind that you're paying a high subscription rate to get access to this site, so I always have to keep your wants and needs in mind. I'll tell you what I tell anybody who complains that I'm not writing something "worthwhile": Do I look like your fucking jukebox?

Captain Crab said...

My sister is a 42 year old with Down's Syndrome. Apparently a lot of you think I should be offended by Chez's analogy.

I am not!

SavageAphid said...

I'm not saying someone can't say silly or stupid or mean things. I'm just saying it was a stupid and tacky thing to say. Chez is generally a better writer than that, which is why I'm a reader. But, that comment had it's intended effect. It's a page from the Anne Coulter book. "I'll say something I know is going to get everyone swarming and ride that for more readership." It's disappointing to see that cheap trick used here, and in that way.

"That seems a far cry from the civil discourse one would expect if you were trying to take the high road"
High road? I'm not trying to take any high road, what I posted was pretty low-brow if you ask me. No, really I'm sure you had a point in there, but I never found it. Something about explaining how I should communicate my ideas your way rather than my way because it's less oppressive.

@Deacon Blue
Got your point the first time. Thanks for that though. The part where you assumed what I was thinking was cute. Do yourself a favor and look into the history of PC. You are seriously almost a decade out of touch. That oppressive regime that's keepin' you down, has been on the wane for quite a while.

Chez said...

One difference between me and Ann Coulter (and no, it's obviously not that only one of us has an Adam's apple): The Down Syndrome line wasn't put in there to get a rise out of anyone. That's the thing: It wasn't a joke, it wasn't an attempt at being provocative, it's just the kind of thing I say. For everyone else, that's apparently a really huge deal; for me, it's Thursday.

SavageAphid said...


I believe you when you say you weren't trying to get a rise out of people, and I rescind my claim that is what you were doing, but seriously, you are surprised that the comment got a reaction from people? That I don't believe for a second.

.... wait, you don't have an Adam's apple?

Chez said...

Actually, given everything else I say around here -- I really didn't think anyone would give it a second look. Admittedly though, I probably should've taken the traditional liberal hyper-sensitivity and tendency to always be on the lookout for something to be offended by when I cross-posted the thing as is over at HuffPo.

Deacon Blue said...

I'm a decade out of touch, Savage Aphid? I think not. Every time the word "retarded" or "retard" gets used in a movie, it must be some attack against mentally/developmentally challenged folks. Doesn't matter that often, these uses aren't making fun of the people themselves but sometimes the media's handling of them. Still offensive in the liberal arena (and I say this as someone who's pretty liberal myself politically). Your knee-jerk on this and continued assertion that it was offensive is an example of that.

What I see a lot of today (still) is people getting offended on behalf of other people who aren't bothered by what's being said...or who don't even know that what is being said might possibly have some small chance of offending them.

For example, calling someone a retard is not nice, particularly if the person is retarded and you are trying to belittle them. Calling a policy or process "retarded" is not directly at people with learning disabilities, and people who are developmentally disabled are not likely taking offense as someone calling a policy retarded. Especially since many fewer people refer to developmental disabilities as retardation anymore.

Uproar over the use of the word "niggardly" which has no relation to the word "nigger" has also been another high-profile example of this. Sure, the most famous example was TEN years ago, but the effects were felt years after, and there are still cases where this word gets people in trouble for no good fucking reason except that people are too fucking sensitive about shit these days.

In the end, we're going to have to agree to disagree, but obnoxious PC shit is still alive and well.

Sorry about making assumptions about what you where thinking, though. That was out of line. But maybe I was salty because I'm a mouth-breather. (true that I'm a mouth-breather...though sarcasm that I was offended)

See You Next Tuesday said...




SavageAphid said...

I can get behind agreeing to disagree, though I'm confused as to why you felt the need to spend most of your comment talking about completely unrelated things. I'm familiar with the word niggardly and it's proper use. I don't remember using that word or commenting on it. Am I forgetting something I said? Also, the word "retarded" doesn't bother me I don't remember saying anything about that either, it would be seriously retarded to be bothered by that.

VOTAR said...

Damn, C.U.N.Tuesday,

you beat me to it.


Deacon Blue said...

Savage were the one who told me I was ten years out of date and that somehow, P.C. wasn't oppressive and obnoxious anymore. I gave you examples to prove you wrong. And why you don't whine about "retarded" but get on Chez's case about the 6-year-old Down syndrome kid is beyond me. Selective outrage, I guess.

Sheriff Bart said...

I learned something today. It is incredibly easy to troll PC activists. Almost as easy as it is to troll BSG fans on IMDb.
In fact it's so easy, a 6 year-old with Downs Syndrome could do it.

SavageAphid said...

@Deacon Blue
Well, I'm sorry you live in a world in which you can't use the word "niggardly" freely because the oppressive thought police will lock you up. Your experience is very different from my own. Thank you for using, admittedly old examples ("Sure, the most famous example was TEN years ago") to show me how hip and in tune you are.

The specificity and pointlessness of the comment was, to me, crass and needless. You don't see a difference between that and other words and you aren't bothered by the comment. That's pretty much that.

Deacon Blue said...

I'm pretty sure enough other people understand why I mentioned the event that took place 10 years ago instead of highlighting the several more recent ones that were in the link I provided...and why I put "TEN" in all caps.

Maybe it'll hit you later. But I'm tired of explaining things to you.

Every few months, I make the mistake of engaging a troll. And I usually regret giving into the impulse. This is another one of those cases.