"Did a Liberal Upbringing Turn
John Walker Into a Traitor?"
December 17, 2001
Can you guess which talk show
host asked this question -- quite seriously -- as an introduction to a
segment on his show? Driving the point home, that same host also
asked as teasers prior to the segment:
Should the liberals of
Marin, County, California -- should they take responsibility for American
Taliban fighter John Walker?
Did John Walker become a
traitor because of his liberal California upbringing?
If you guessed Sean Hannity, you're correct.
At first I just laughed at
the stupidity of this question. Then I realized, many of the viewers
of the Hannity & Colmes program on Fox News will take this as a
viable assertion. It's already dangerous enough in this country to
even voice a minor dissent concerning the manner in which the war on
terrorism is being conducted. Inflammatory statements like Hannity's
tarnish an entire segment of the political spectrum with being incubators of
To be fair, the actual
segment during which this question was discussed was not quite as bad as the
framework Hannity put around it. Neither the "liberal"
guest, Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, nor the conservative guest, Cal
Thomas, columnist and Fox News political commentator, agreed with Hannity's
underlying premise. Even Hannity backtracked early on with a
disclaimer that "Let me be clear. Liberals are just as patriotic
as conservatives, by and large, and you have extremists on both sides of the
Co-host Alan Colmes brought
up the obvious rejoinder to Hannity's framing question, rhetorically asking
if a conservative upbringing and a stint in the army could be the cause of
Timothy McVeigh's terrorist actions.
Still, one of Hannity's
teasers was heard on the preceding Fox show, Bill O'Reilly's The Factor,
so any of those viewers not sticking around for the Hannity & Colmes
segment would not have been exposed to the somewhat less inflammatory tone
of the ensuing discussion.
More importantly, in these
times, the mere decision to seriously pose such a question, in a forum
guaranteed to give it wide publicity, shows an appalling lack of judgment,
and goes way over the line, even for the Fox News "fair and
[more on media morons covering the
war on terrorism]