From Buckley to Hannity, a variation on a tired old theme.
Here we go again.
Anyone who knows Sean Hannity, once described as “the nicest guy in the building” — “the building” being the News Corporation headquarters of Fox News — knows this is a dead-on description of the Fox News and talk radio star.
I know. Personally. Sean Hannity — bereft still at the loss of his great friend and liberal TV co-host Alan Colmes — has the knack of being both a man of strong political views and the ability to reach out to every human soul he encounters, no matter the other person’s political views. A staunch friend of his late debating partner Alan Colmes and the ever liberal Bob Beckel, it was — of all people — Sean Hannity who reached out to liberal Juan Williams when the latter was fired from the left-wing National Public Radio for a politically incorrect comment about Muslims. Juan wrote up the behind-the-scenes tale of his firing by liberals at NPR here.
Now? Now comes this story that Hannity once “pulled a gun” on Juan after a debate on whatever.
Look. I can only say, in the style of that famous Democratic VP nominee Lloyd Bentsen quote from the 1988 vice-presidential debate with the GOP’s Senator Dan Quayle that “I know Sean Hannity, Sean Hannity is a friend of mine, and no, Sean Hannity would never threaten Juan Williams with a gun.”
Hannity denies it. Juan (whom I have debated on Hannity’s radio show) denies it. And Fox News denies it.
To be accurate, here are the statements from each:
Juan Williams: “This incident is being sensationalized — everything was under total control throughout and I never felt like I was put in harm’s way. It was clear that Sean put my safety and security above all else and we continue to be great friends.”
Sean Hannity: “While discussing the issue of firearms, I showed my good friend Juan Williams my unloaded firearm in a professional and safe manner for educational purposes only. Every precautionary procedure that I have been trained in since the age of 11 was followed. I’ve had a conceal carry permit in five states for all of my adult life.
“Any other interpretation of this is outright false reporting.”
Fox News: “Sean Hannity has been trained in firearm safety since he was 11 years old and has a license to carry a gun in five states, including New York. The situation was thoroughly investigated and it was found that no one was put in any danger.”
As both a professional and personal friend I know, as that last statement indicates, that Sean has spoken hundreds of times on and off air about his interest in guns, his long personal history from boyhood in learning how to carry and use them, and that he carries today. The idea that he would pull out a gun to show Juan Williams is perfectly normal, though to those who do not have any interest in guns it is perhaps a frightening moment — which in fact says more about them than Sean Hannity. He was not Bill Clinton pulling out something else that has frightened more than one very vulnerable woman.
The fact is that Sean, controversial like all of us who are conservatives, has always drawn exceptional attention both throughout his career and especially now as a Trump supporter. Harsh, unfair if not delusional and vicious criticism of conservatives has long been greeted with an eye-rolling toss of the head by the targets of the moment.
As noted here in National Review a mere three years ago, liberals were — headline please:
Diagnosing Conservatism as a Mental Illness
Ian Tuttle, a William F. Buckley Jr. fellow at the National Review Institute, began his piece on this liberal habit this way:
The Left has a long tradition of armchair psychoanalysis of conservatives and dissidents. In 1950, the “conservative impulse” expressed itself in ‘irritable mental gestures,’ in Lionel Trilling’s famous phrase. If Trilling’s liberal successors are to be believed, that impulse has come a long way since then — into a full-blown pathology.…
Freud and Foucault are dead, but their methods thrive. On the left, politics is not about debate; it’s about diagnosis.
The Left has a storied history of transforming legitimate disagreement into mental illness. Utilizing his influence as director of the Institute of Psychiatry of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences, Soviet psychiatrist Andrei Snezhnevsky propagated throughout the Soviet Union and its satellites the notion of “sluggish schizophrenia,” a condition from which, conveniently, thousands of Soviet dissidents happened to suffer. Opposing official government policy, pessimism, religious practice — all were symptoms of mental instability, the solution for which was incarceration in a mental hospital.
The People’s Republic of China continues the practice. In September, watchdog group Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported that a blogger critical of the government had been seized in his home and committed. Another activist apparently has been in psychiatric detention since 2007.
The American Left has not set up hospitals, but one can see less extreme manifestations of the same impulse all about….
Back there in the mists of time that was 2006, I noted in a piece on National Review’s founder William F. Buckley Jr. and the reaction to his groundbreaking 1951 breakout bestseller God and Man at Yale the following, quoting from a 1951 review of the book:
“The book is one which has the glow and appeal of a fiery cross on a hillside at night. There will undoubtedly be robed figures who gather to it, but the hoods will not be academic. They will cover the face,” snarled one, ominously comparing it to a work of the Ku Klux Klan. “This fascist thesis,” angrily spluttered another, “…This… pure fascism…. What more could Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin ask for…?” Still others piled on. The book was dismissed as a series of “fanatically emotional attacks” that “succeeded in turning the stomachs of its readers.” The author drew howls of outrage, the lesser of which focused on adjectives like “rude” and “obnoxious” before descending into cries of “fascist.”
And today? The idea that Sean Hannity pulled a gun on his friend, Juan Williams? Oh, please.
This is simply more of the same. From Buckley to Goldwater to Reagan to Limbaugh to Hannity and Levin and fill-in-the-blank-name-of-your-favorite conservative-commentator, there is always the same old liberal formula. Conservative X is nuts. Details to follow.
End of story. End of incident.
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons