Saturday, December 11, 2004
Reporters in search of a clue: On the Letters page over at Poynter Online I came across the following letter from Luke Stangel, a reporter at the Palo Alto Daily News.
I just got back to the office from the live taping of the Hannity & Colmes Fox News talk show at the Flint Center in Cupertino, Calif. Our newspaper has been following fifth-grade teacher Stephen Williams' lawsuit against his school district after his principal barred him from handing out literature that she felt amounted to Christian propaganda.
Interestingly, they turned away all reporters at the door, saying the media couldn't come in. This came hot on the heels of two prominent articles in the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle today describing Williams' planned live interview on Hannity & Colmes. The
interview was Williams' first public appearance and interview since the media circus came to town.
A private security guard outside the Flint Center shoved my photographer's camera from his face and said he couldn't take photos. The same guard said he wouldn't let me in the building to report on the interview, saying show producers didn't want the media inside.
I eventually got in anyway — I suppose I wouldn't be a good reporter if I didn't — and the show turned out to be fairly enlightening. Although Hannity and Colmes profess to run a somewhat balanced issues-oriented show on the air, the off-air moments with the audience proved rather telling.
"How many liberals are here tonight?" Hannity asked the audience during the last commercial break.
Six people clapped, to overwhelming boos from the audience.
"Stand up and tell me sir: what worthwhile thing has John Kerry done in the last 20 years?" Hannity said pointing to one man, to which the crowd erupted into applause.
Half an hour before the show began, Hannity paraded out in front of the audience, which clapped wildly for him.
"We came to San Francisco and we can't find one liberal?" he asked, to laughs. "That's why we came to San Francisco. Listen: we're taking over San Francisco!"
"Hey! Tell them California is a future red state!" a man yelled.
"On a personal note, for all of you who voted for President George W. Bush, thank you for saving America," Hannity said, before the tape began rolling.
Now, not allowing reporters in to the taping is really lame, and I'm glad Stangel was able to eventually figure a way into the building. After all, had he not gotten in, we wouldn't have found out that Sean Hannity is a partisan. Who would've guessed?
Hannity and Colmes is "balanced" because Hannity is a conservative and Colmes is a liberal -- not because they're both moderates. You'd almost get the impression that Stangel has never watched Fox News Channel.