How to Be a Talk Show Host
Proclaim your infallibility: Assert that you are always right or represent "the voice of reason." Acknowledge your greatness and the wisdom of listeners who proclaim it.
Disrespect people you don't like: Imitate President Clinton in a mocking voice; adopt a whiny one when speaking for Liberals. Don't use correct names for opponents: Al Gore becomes Algore, a character in a monster movie. The National Organization for Women (NOW) becomes the National Organization for Gals (NAG).
Claim to know what other people think, even if they deny it: No matter what they say, Liberals really want to raise taxes and have big government, and they're "still crying about the fall of the Berlin Wall" because they mourn the death of Communism.
Make clear distinctions: Schools improve with less money; the military improves with more.
Only listen to people who agree with you: Screen callers, ignore whoever is speaking, or put fingers in ears.
Never grant that your opponents might have a good idea or a shred of human decency: Use vivid adjectives and demeaning nouns. Speak of "femi-Nazis" and call the vice president "an incompetent rag-doll."
Have a catchy term to mark your followers as deep thinkers: "Ditto" and "dittohead" are already taken.
Don't worry about larger contexts: Announce that Jesse Jackson's involvement in a local school controversy shows he couldn't find racism anywhere in America. Do so on the day of a guilty verdict in a racially motivated killing of a black man in Texas.
Don't be paralyzed by consistency: Affirm that "the American people are not honorable or principled" but that they should be trusted to make decisions for themselves. Announce that thanks to Liberals, American schools are "too lax" and that also thanks to Liberals, American schools "are being turned into prisons."
Don't leave science to scientists: The idea that "secondhand smoke kills" is false, and only Liberals and "wacko pointy-heads" believe global warming is occurring.
Don't believe in a loyal opposition: The Democratic Party is "so dangerous this country cannot stand four or eight more years" of a Democratic presidency. Declare that "we've got to get rid of all this liberalism that's ruining the country right now." (Means unspecified)
Ignore history..: Take the position that patrons in bars in California ought to "beat the crap out of" any "anti-smoking Nazis" who try to enforce smoking bans. (This from an African American old enough to remember the white South's response to the Civil Rights Movement).
...unless history is useful: Homosexuality is a sure sign that a republic is in decline.
Two things continue to mystify me about talk show rhetoric. The first is its dehumanizing hatred. Why are well-to-do Americans directing so much anger against fellow Americans whose wacko, pointy-headed, femi-Nazi, Liberal numbers must include friends, neighbors, colleagues, and loved ones? The second thing that puzzles me is why most talk shows don't discuss ideas and issues. They are about arguing by authority--believe me because I am right and my opponents are stupid, dangerous, and venal. Those words bring me back to the children of America.
What is a child who ridicules people, makes rude noises, and only hears what he wants to hear? A spoiled brat.
What is an adult who ridicules people, makes rude noises, and only hears what he wants to hear? A talk show host.
"Guido Veloce" is a Johns Hopkins University professor.
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