KBLG's replacement for Bill O'Reilly turns out to be Fred Thompson, whose entry into the presidential race did so much to liven up the 2008 campaign. Not just Thompson, as it turns out, but also his wife and his brother.
It's sort of like Hannity RFD: all the usual right-wing blather without the noise and passion. Thompson always comes across as a guy who doesn't think very much or work very hard, and that's essentially the style of his show. He and his wife were trying to make hay out of some story that the mainstream media picked up on based on some poll that supposedly was methodologically suspect, but they made such a hash of it that not only could I not decipher the methodological errors, I couldn't even figure out what the poll supposedly showed, or why its appearance on MSM was evidence of liberal bias. True, I often miss stuff while delivering papers, but I'm pretty sure that this bit was simply incoherent.
The one thing Thompson has going for him is that at least he sounds like he really does believe the stuff he says. Maybe that's the actor in him. Hannity makes a critical error: He sounds like he's too smart to really believe some of the dumb stuff he says. Thompson sounds like he is being as smart as he knows how to be. But his folksy charm, such as it is, is somewhat offset by his wife, who comes across as a bit of a harpy.
Thompson's show was so soporific that I switched over a time or two to Limbaugh, who clearly is enjoying his recent notoriety. At the lead-in to one break, his announcer said, "You're listening to the leader of the conservative movement in America." Eat your heart out, Newt Gingrich.
Warren Olney, who always gums up the works on Thursday by injecting a lot of facts and balance into his show, had an important discussion about how whether taxpayers are entitled to know exactly which companies are benefiting (other than AIG) from all of the AIG bailout money. As a reporter, my sympathies lie with disclosure, but I can see the argument about why it might screw things up in this case. My friend Rob Natelson would agree: It's another example of why it's a bad idea to intertwine public and private enterprise.
Meanwhile, Hannity himself was veering closer and closer to accusing Obama of outright treason. He hinted at a belief that Obama's policies are not merely wrong but are deliberately wrong, designed to weaken opposition to a purely socialist agenda that will overthrow constitutional government in the United States.
One thing you have to admire about Hannity is his intellectual flexibility. He is perfectly happy to argue one minute that Obama is hurting the country by talking down the economy to further his socialist political agenda, then in the next minute to talk down the economy himself in order to further his conservative political agenda. And he is happy to argue one minute that Obama is an inexperienced and hopeless naif, battered by economic realities he can't understand, then argue in the next minute that Obama is outsmarting us all, cleverly destroying America while fooling most Americans into thinking he is on the right track.
If we can't get the fairness doctrine back, can't we at least get an FCC rule requiring that talk-show hosts wait at least one segment before totally revamping their points of attack? It's confusing for us old folks.
Hannity also had on Jim Cramer of CNBC, who blamed recent stock market declines on Obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Experience has taught me not to take people seriously who yell for a living, so I was skeptical. It's hard for me to understand why the stock market would crater today because tax rates might increase a couple of percentage points two years from now, which may be why I am not a professional stock adviser.
But NPR did talk to a couple of professional stock advisers on "All Things Considered." One said that the market is so weak now that every time there is a small rally, as there was on Wednesday, traders who have been sitting on tanking stocks take the opportunity to sell, driving the market back down. That made some sense to me. The other said that people now aren't focused on the long term at all; instead, they are reacting to day-to-day events, ignoring fundamentals of both individual businesses and the economy as a whole. I don't know if that makes sense or not, but it's definitely a counterpoint to Cramer and to CNBC, which Jon Stewart pretty much destroys right here.