Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shoot Fights: When pundits get personal - Kilmeade VS Garofalo, Stewart VS Crossfire

In wrestling, a 'shoot' is when one of the combatants overrides the agreed script and does something unexpected by injecting real emotion. This may involve actually hitting (physically connecting with) other wrestlers or using very personal verbal attacks. In essence making a fake wrestling scenario or feud into a real one. Shoots aren't necessarily a bad thing as the heightened realism makes for compelling viewing and is sure to garner an audience.

In punditry, shoot fights may come in the form of pundits ambushing their unsuspecting guests by injecting their own personal feelings (usually contempt) in interviews. Essentially turning a professional disagreement into a personal one. A certain level of decorum is expected during interviews even from those with opposing ideological perspectives. Largely because the interviewer may want the interviewee to return for future appearances, a reputation as a hostile interviewer may also dissuade any other potential guests.

Below are a few examples of Pundit shoots:

Brian Kilmeade of Fox and Friends shoots on Janeane Garofalo, whilst the interview begins cordially its clear that Brian gets personal by the end. To her credit APF pundit Janeane holds her own.

VIDEO: Brian Kilmeade and Janeane Garofalo debate the Iraq War

Hugh Hewitt is known for being a tenacious interviewer to those he disagrees with, even Republicans aren't spared. Helen Thomas was subjected to Hugh Hewitt's lawyerly badgering by pressing her for her ideological leaning. Helen is clearly flustered by the questioning and vainly tries to convince Hugh that journalism by its nature should not have bias. Listen here.

Former Air America talker Al Franken did a shoot on conservative Radio host Neal Boortz who was a guest on his show. Although the two are (were?) amicable with each other, Franken was particularly fixated on undermining Boortz in this exchange. Whilst Neal expected a discussion of current issues, Al started it off by playing a succession of clips that appeared to show Boortz misrepresenting things and pressing him to explain. Neal did not take too fondly to Al's tactics, hitting back saying
NEAL BOORTZ: (10m 5s) Be prepared to talk about some issues, not play a stupid, childish, moronic Al Franken game of 'Gotcha!... I am tired of playing the little nursery school thing with you Al.

Neal hangs up the phone.
Listen to the exchange between Al Franken and Neal Boortz

Finally, Jon Stewart does a shoot with a difference. Usually shoots are conducted by the interviewer largely because they come from a position of strength/control. John Stewart appeared on CNN's Crossfire hosted by (liberal) Paul Begala and (conservative) Tucker Carlson. Whilst Jon wasn't as influential as he is now, he was arguably more reputable than the dual hosts. He was openly hostile to the show (specifically its combative format) and took pot shots at Tucker. Its been said that his damning indictment of the show eventually led to its cancellation.

VIDEO: Jon Stewart challenges hosts 
Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on CNN's Crossfire

Jon Stewart confronts CNN's Crossfire
JON STEWART: (5m 2s) Its interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility, I didn't realise --and maybe this explains quite a bit-- that the News organisations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity. What I would suggest is when you talk holding Politician's feet to the fire. I think that's disingenuous
TUCKER CARLSON: How are you holding up? -- I mean c'mon.
STEWART: No no no no but my role isn't I don't think... If you're idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard enough News questions we're in bad shape fellas
CARLSON: We're here to love you not confront you.
STEWART: But what I'm saying is this, I'm not. I'm here to confront you cause we need help from the Media and they're hurting us
PAUL BEGALA: If the indictment is -- and I have heard you say this -- Crossfire is everything asI said in the intro left/right, black/white. Its because we are a Debate show...
STEWART: That would be great! I would love to see a debate show... to do a debate would be great but that's like saying pro-wrestling is a show about athletic competition
CARLSON: I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring...
Update: I almost forgot, Mark Levin. Anyone with even a cursory awareness of Mark Levin knows that he is curt with people whom he disagrees with. He dominates all conversation with liberal callers, often shouting down and abruptly ending conversations. This is simply Mark Levin's persona, and his audience enjoys it. Paul Hackett, veteran of the Iraq War who famously sought office as a Democrat appeared on Mark's show. Paul was there to clarify some controversial statements he had made on another program. Paul Hackett showed poise against Mark who was a stiff worker, firing insults and pointed questions.

Listen to the exchange here - Audio: "Unterfuhrer," round two — Levin vs. Hackett

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