I saw the blowout between Sean Hannity and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison on Hannity this evening over the impending sequester.
Hannity played two speeches by President Obama in which he spoke nearly word for word against the sequester (despite the fact the sequester originated in the White House). Ellison fired the opening salvo by telling Hannity "You are the worst excuse for a journalist I've ever seen," and the proceedings went downhill from there.
Hannity let Ellison filibuster and for his trouble Ellison wouldn't let him ask a question. After about six minutes of Ellison's drivel, Hannity finally had enough and said, "Congressman, you're a total waste of time," and relieved the audience of its misery.
Talking to someone like Ellison is a double edged sword. Ellison is a buffoon but he is nevertheless a Congressman with a loyal constituency. Then again buffoonery has seldom been a barrier to entering Congress. Yet by interviewing Ellison, Hannity legitimizes him and thus adds to his prestige beyond his constituency.
I think Ellison caught Hannity off guard at the beginning of the interview (partially because Hannity couldn't hear Ellison's opening remark). It's true that Hannity and Ellison have engaged in contentious discussions before but they managed to be cordial at least at the beginning of their discussion. Tonight, Ellison came ready for a fight the moment the bell rung.
I suppose it is a necessary evil to talk with the Ellisons of the world if only to expose their folly and shortcomings. And there's nothing like winning an argument. But such exposes are not without risk. Aside from adding to Ellison's prestige there is also the risk of having a fruitless discussion in which one is taken down to their level. Hannity now calls Ellison a total waste of time. Does this mean he will never book him on his show again? Maybe yes, maybe no. If yes then Hannity knows full well what he is getting into.
So if one must talk to a demagogue like Ellison then be sure bring armor and boxing gloves and be ready to use them at any moment.