Whilst pundits are largely autonomous they also travel in cliques, not unlike comedians and wrestlers. I'm always fascinated by how casual viewers perceive the personal affiliations of pundits. Whilst pundits might share the same ideology and even work on the same network, astute and engaged watchers will be aware that some relationships don't go beyond the professional and may even be discreetly icy.
In this example, a dissenting conservative caller rails at Rush Limbaugh and lumps Hugh Hewitt, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin into a collective. Generally speaking pundits don't like being lumped together by people other than themselves, largely because of ego and the proudly solitary nature of their work. It's a jarring assortment because Hugh Hewitt of the Salem family has little affiliation with Rush Limbaugh. Sean Hannity and Mark Levin on the other hand are more closely associated. To be fair, no right thinking Conservative Talker would want to disassociate themselves with the spectacularly successful Rush Limbaugh.
Having said that, I was surprised to hear Mark Levin appear on Hugh Hewitt's program to hawk his new book. It seems others were surprised by Levin's appearance also, which Hugh Hewitt quickly diminished and dispelled:
H1: Mark Levin, Jim Geraghty With Hugh Hewitt. Tuesday March 31, 2009
HUGH HEWITT: The Great One Mark Levin is here with me this hour and a lot of you have already sent emails and are wondering "why would I invite a competitor on?" and that's because Mark and I aren't competitors. We are cooperating hosts who try to do right by the country on the same timeslots on many markets and there's plenty of listeners to go around.
You know Mark Levin this is another indication that the left just doesn't get us. Doesn't get Rush. Doesn't get Hannity. Doesn't get any of us -- all the Salem hosts, Bennett through the rest of them. That we are all on the same team here. We might disagree and fight amongst each other occasionally. But boy we are united in making sure the country understands that we can't go down this road.
MARK LEVIN: Well you know, not only is that true but let me tell your audience something. You are universally adored by all of us
HEWITT: Now I'm blushing
LEVIN: Now hold on let me say it, all of us on the other hand are not. You are universally adored by my brother Rush and Sean and all the rest of us because you're so smart and kind and on the game and we do appreciate you Hugh.
Listen and Download Hugh Hewitt's interview with Mark Levin
With that said there is a curious ommision (probably innocuous) between the Media Matters and Rush Limbaugh transcripts for this same audio.
Who's Brainwashed and Ignorant?
CALLER: And it just -- it was crazy for you to keep going on and on like -- like Leveen (sic) and Hannity and you. It's like you're all brainwashed...
CALLER: You have and Hannity --
RUSH: Charles? Charles? Charles, you said --
CALLER: -- you with and Levin are all brainwashed, and you know it.
RUSH: You said at the beginning of your phone call --
Caller criticizes Limbaugh, Hannity, etal, on torture: "It's like you're all brainwashed"
CALLER: And it just -- it was crazy for you to keep going on and on like Levin and Hannity and Hewitt. It's like you're all brainwashed...
LIMBAUGH: Charles. Charles, Charles --
CALLER: You, Hannity, Hewitt, and Levin are all brainwashed and you know it.
LIMBAUGH: -- you said -- you said at the beginning of your phone call --