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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

After last week's debate -- actually about fifty minutes into it -- the question became, how did right wing talking points become mainstream media issues?

Moreso. How did the fact that 99 percent of the criticism of ABC's inane questioning get converted into "Obama couldn't handle the tough questions?"

Simple. The royalty of right wing talk radio figured out quite a while ago that politics is not political. It's sport.

And it's their ball, game and playing field.

Rush Limbaugh, the Abner Doubleday of modern talk radio, and many offspring have framed the debate for almost 17 years now. They have not only been able to move midfield just to the left of Michael Savage, they have been able to narrow the middle to almost imperceptible.

With this mainstream media's incompetency, the games shall be played at least until Sean Hannity starts collecting social security,

It's never about rooting for the best man. It's about rooting for your man, no matter how unfit. That's just the rules of the game.

Does a Philadelphia Eagles fan cheer when the Dallas Cowboys score against them? Even if your team has a inept quarterback, you're still praying they'll hit paydirt. God-willing -- and remember, God is always on our side -- our boys might even win. It feels good. It fills the body with endorphins.

The Lords of Loud understand that the strongest view is the one that embraces all in terms of black and white. Good or evil. Any gray area that needs more than a simple explanation -- no matter whether it deserves more -- is consolidated into an us vs them, yes or no, good vs evil, simplicity. Not simple as in inane: Simple as in simple to understand. The right gets that. The left still thinks that the voter wants a conversation -- a real competition.

Oh, they'll say they do. They'll say they want to discuss the issues. But look at FoxNew's ratings. The right wants their their hosts to be quick, head-hunting, 350-pound defensive ends, or in the least, prosecuting attorneys.

"Yes or no?! That's the problem with you liberals. You can answer a simple question!" Or it could be ten minute talking point litanies posing as a single question. Any diversion from an answer that doesn't fit into the host's play book is quickly interrupted.

And the crowd cheers on!

They don't care if the ref blows a call that ends up allowing your team to keep a drive alive. Anything is fair in love and war, politics and long as we win.

Hockey fans think the referees have it in for their team. I dare say, so does that belief flow through the fans of every team -- NHL or high school. When does a crowd ever think a call against their guys was a good call? When does the crowd at outside of New York cheer a Mets home run.

It's not about right or what's fair or even what would be good for the sport as a whole. It's about our team winning, no matter how dirty the win is. Anyone remember Philadelphia's Broad Street Bullies? Think a single orange and black dressed, face-painted fan in the Spectrum crowd thought big bad Dave Shultz ruined the game when he drew blood on the ice? I certainly didn't.

But why does it work so well in politics?

Because just like sports, no one votes on the issues. They vote on emotion. Limbaugh figured that out, tapped into that emotion and turned the moral majority into a loud enough minority that they drowned out any sense of real debate. Doesn't matter about the truth, it's about who shouts the loudest...and longest.

With our broadcast Lords of Loud, it's never about right or wrong. It's not only about gotcha. It's about tackling the opponent before they make a first down, let alone a TD.

And with Hannity swinging the lumber -- in the guise of George Stephanopoulos -- the debate was a walk off grand slam for right wing talk.

So who actually won the debate?

The answer is usually comes after figuring out who made the most inroads.

Barack? Certainly not. Hammered all night about blah-blah-blah, how could he be?

Then it would have to be Hillary. Nope. She circled so many answers before landing with anything close to an answer she might end up with more frequent flier miles, but not a victory.

The fact that McCain didn't even have to deal with any questions might make him the winner on the zero-is-better-than-negative yardstick. But no.

After going through the questions' subjects -- William Ayers, Bosnia, Reverend Wright, bitter clingyness, flag pins et al, I realized that the winner becomes as obvious as one of Sean Hannity's loaded questions...


Sean Hannity, a radio super mogul who many on the left call a fool.

Yes, the FoxNews host and ABC syndicated radio host comes out smelling like a right wing muse to ABC's Charles Gibson.

Were Hannity's incessant rants on the William Ayers, Reverend Wright Bosnia, bitter clinginess, flag pins, et al themes streamed through some sort of ESP from Hannity to Charles Gibson.? Did Sean just go through the ABC foodchain to pass Stephanopoulus a note?

It doesn't matter how they got there. It's because Hannity has spent the last many months repeating it until it catapulted out of right wing world and directly into the mouths of the ABC moderators.

Which mean more than anything, what Sean Hannity and talk radio does, works. And if anyone should be declared the winner, it's got to be Hannity.

Now who's the fool?

By the way: Game over.

Award-winning television writer and author of Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" (, Steve Young, is a former talk show host, writes ad finitum on talk radio. His "All The News That's Fit To Spoof" appears in L.A. Daily News opeds every Sunday (

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Albion Monitor   April 17, 2008   (

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