Joe Lapointe has worked as a sports reporter with the New York Times and a segment producer for "Countdown With Keith Olbermann'' on Current TV
Right-wing propagandist Sean Hannity often boasts that he grew up on Long Island but turned against his home hockey team, the Islanders. Instead, Hannity brags, he was a sports traitor who cheered for the Philadelphia Flyers in their “Broad Street Bullies” era.
Back then, the Flyers were a hockey sub-culture of sucker-punchers and cheap-shot artists. And Hannity brings a lot of old Flyers’ “Slap Shot” style to his Fox News show and radio broadcasts, interrupting liberals, out-shouting them and treating them like spit.
But the Fox News Bully got clobbered Tuesday night by Rep. Keith Ellison, the Democratic congressman from Minnesota, who stood up like a hockey tough guy with roots in both Minnesota and Michigan.
Ellison took offense to how Hannity set up his appearance. First, speaking of the artificial financial crisis called “the sequester,” Hannity called President Obama “our alarmist-in-chief, President Panic himself.”
Then he played mixed and mangled sound clips of the President’s recent speeches and added portentous music underneath the words that sounded as if it was from the audio track of a Leni Riefenstahl film.
When Hannity introduced Ellison with “Congressman, welcome back!” and Ellison replied “You bet!” any viewer could sense the gloves coming off.
First, when Hannity said Obama and Democrats were good at staying on their talking points, Ellision quickly interrupted and said “You’re pretty good at it too.
“Quite frankly, you are the worst excuse for a journalist I’ve ever seen,’’ Ellison said.
Hannity played dumb, twice saying he didn’t hear Ellison. “You heard me,” Ellison said. He called Hannity’s attacks “yellow journalism.”
He accused Hannity of “deception” and added that Hannity’s presentation of the deadline looming was “a break of every journalistic ethic I have ever heard . . . For you to say the President is to blame here is ridiculous.”
Amid blather from Hannity that he is a “conservative” and not a “Republican,” Ellison added that Republicans are “Your party which you shamelessly represent . .. You are nothing but a Republican. Yes, you are. Yes, you are . . . You are a shill for the Republican party . . . You alibi them 100 per cent.”
Hannity then squealed “Stop ranting!” although Ellision was calmer and quieter than Hannity. After a few more figurative verbal jabs and hooks at Hannity’s soft middle and glass jaw, Ellison said “I’ll let you get a word in. Go ahead.”
“Oh!” Hannity blurted with sarcasm. “You’re so nice to give me a word on my own program.”
Ellison then did him one better.
“OK,” he said. “I’ve changed my mind."
After a lengthy period of both men talking simultaneously, Hannity whimpered “Congressman, why are you so angry?” and Ellison shot back “Why are you so angry?”
Hannity tried to bring it down to the schoolyard level by saying “I’m not angry. I’m laughing at you.” Ellison beat Hannity on this level, too. “I’m laughing at you,” Ellison said, “and it’s not the first time.”
Then Hannity, like Mitt Romney in the Republican debates, tried to bet Ellison about something. “Thousand-dolla bet,” Hannity said. “Ten-thousand dolla bet.” (The term “dolla” appears to be a unit of currency on Long Island).
Ellison would not take the bait, said he didn’t bet, shook his head when Hannity spoke and then answered Hannity when Hannity asked Ellison what Ellison might do. Big mistake.
“Let’s close loopholes on large corporations,” Ellison said. “Let’s say yachts and jets should not be a write-off. Let’s say Exxon/Mobil and Chevron should not get a tax rebate and a subsidy.”
When Hannity told Ellison “You’re ranting real well” Ellison refused to accept it. “You don’t like what I’m saying and you say I’m ranting,” Ellison said. “But you’re a bully, Sean, and I’m not backing down to you.”
Hannity tried one last question about something being “immoral,” and Ellison shot back “You’re immoral for telling lies.” That’s when Hannity finally flipped out.
“Congressman, you are a total waste of time and I’m moving along because our audience deserves better,” Hannity said.
It’s not the first time Hannity has demonstrated he can’t win a fair fight. Robert Gibbs of Obama’s campaign staff gave Hannity a similar mau-mau-ing in 2008. A few years later, the late Christopher Hitchens did, too.
Hannity should invite more liberal guests who give him back some of the crap the throws at other people. It’s great entertainment and it may shore up his alarmingly dwindling ratings on a network filled with deceit and lies.
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