On February 15 at 11 pm, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon held a debate between the Nation’s Joan Walsh–The Nation is the farthest left of the U.S. political magazines, and is fairly described as Socialist—and National Review editor Rich Lowry. TNR is the most venerable of U.S. conservative publications. The subject was gun control, following the horrific high school shooting in Florida. Lemon was supposed to moderate.
I began watching the segment, which was amazingly, perilously long, until my head exploded, nearly killing Rugby. Yesterday, I finally found a transcript of the exchange, and realized that those of you who think your heads are immune from detonation can test your cranial fortitude by trying to read it.
I recommend the test. It is challenging, and if your head survives intact, you can safely assume that nothing will send your brain matter to the ceiling, which is feeling of security we all aspire to. First, however, line the room with plastic sheets. Wear something easily washable (or nothing at all.) And for God’s sake, keep pets and loved ones out of the room. No helmets allowed.
I will break in from time to time to comment, and check on how you are doing.
We’ll begin the transcript when the early part of the discussion had turned to the NRA and its large contributions to elected officials…
RICH LOWRY: Well, I think you’re looking at this totally from the wrong perspective. Let’s take Paul Ryan for instance. I’m sure — I’m almost certain he was pro-gun rights even before he thought about running for Congress. So the idea all the Republicans are secret gun controllers and just have been bought off to go out and lie and pretend they’re in favor of gun rights is not true. This is a sincere conviction.
DON LEMON: Where is the evidence? I never said that.
JOAN WALSH: I don’t think Don was saying that.
LOWRY: Well you’re suggesting that Paul Ryan —
LEMON: I’m not suggesting anything.
LOWRY: — because of the money.
LEMON: I’m just reading the facts.
LOWRY: Okay, so the contributions have nothing to do with Paul Ryan’s conviction on guns? We agree on that?
LEMON: No, we don’t agree with that.
LOWRY: Okay. That’s the point I’m making. I’m sure he was pro —
LEMON: I’m not saying — you’re saying they’re secret gun controllers. I never intimated that.
LOWRY: Yes. You’re saying they’re bought off. So — if they’re — what are they being bought off to a position they don’t agree with it? Is that what you’re suggesting?
LEMON: Do you think they’re not influenced by the money?
LEMON: Are you influenced by money?
LOWRY: Let’s talk about Paul Ryan.
LEMON: Do you know where your bread is butter?
LOWRY: Let’s talk about Paul Ryan. You think he is a secret gun controller? He has always been in favor of gun control.
WALSH: No, no one is saying that why creating the straw person that is what. It’s not something either one of us would.
LOWRY: No. Well — How it the money relevant? So it’s a sincere conviction.
WALSH: The money is relevant, because they have an alliance, the money is relevant.
LEMON: The money is getting them elected.
WALSH: The money gets them elected.
LOWRY: The NRA supporting him because he’s pro-gun.
WALSH: They have come around to —
LEMON: I am looking at it that way.
WALSH: — absolutism version of the First Amendment where common sense gun laws don’t work.
LOWRY: What’s wrong?
LEMON: No it doesn’t. Because he is influenced by the money.
LOWRY: No, no, no. So you think he —
LEMON: If the NRA —
LOWRY: — you think that —
LEMON: — is not paying him the money, then he would —
LOWRY: — when he was 16 years old out hunting deer, he was in favor of gun control then he ran for office and all this lobbyist money came to him and he changed his view on guns. That’s absurd
WALSH: You are creating a straw person.
LEMON: So, why oppose common sense restrictions that the vast number of Americans support and, by the way, do you think he was out with an AR-15 hunting?
LOWRY: I’m sure he is out with a rifle.
LEMON: Okay but an AR-15?
HEAD CHECK I. Head still intact? Good for you.
A. Note that Don Lemon is supposed to be the moderator. This format is that CNN invites two “experts” on different sides of an issue to debate points for the edification of its audience. The theory is that this is fair and even handed. Lemon is the worst, most incompetent moderator of all time, because he literally could not be worse. If he were a boxing referee, he’d be pummeling one of the fighters. Not only does he take the role of an advocate, teaming up with Walsh against Lowry, but because that leaves the segment with no moderator, it rendered the segment incoherent, with everyone talking over each other, shouting and interrupting while seldom finishing a sentence or a thought. Lemon, supposedly a professional broadcast journalist, is, therefor incompetent as well as biased. He’s not doing his job; he’s abusing his position, and he’s cheating his audience. All of CNN’s anchors do this, but seldom to this extent. Does Lemon even know what moderating is?
B. My head lasted through this segment, but Walsh using the ridiculous, politically correct “straw person” twice almost did me in. The term is “strawman,’ and it refers to scarecrows, which, unless someone is trying to make a feminist point to birds, are made to look male. This is how Leftists make themselves look silly. I can’t take someone seriously who uses a phrase like “Straw person.” It’s as bad as “Hangperson.”
C. Lowry is quite right: if Walsh and Lemon believe that the NRA’s money is the reason why members of Congress don’t support gun restriction measures, then they are arguing that these members would vote for such measures without the contributions. They are exhibiting a particularly crippling kind of bias. They believe that their position is so obvious, so correct, that nobody would ever sincerely oppose it unless they were bribed. It is also an unusually hypocritical argument for any partisan to make, as it can easily be turned around to make the same claim regarding legislators opposing “sensible abortion restrictions,” for example. I’m sure that legislators on both sides of the aisle have positions that they vote for to keep donors happy; I’m also sure that that many big interest group donations go to politicians because they sincerely and enthusiastically support those interests, and would with or without the contributions.
D. Most of all: how useless, inarticulate. amateurish and chaotic can a segment be? You’re going to find out, unfortunately… Continue reading