No one can carry water for the GOP and suck up to conservatives like Sean Hannity. And Monday night, he was at the top of his game "interviewing" the GOP's hottest candidate, Michele Bachmann, while mending the 24-hour rift between her and Fox News.
Mending the rift that started on "Fox News Sunday" when Wallace asked the candidate if she was a "flake" was the real business of the conversation that took place during the first 15 minutes of "Hannity" Monday.
The host also, though, had to lob a few softballs her way so she could try and explain away -- or at least minimize -- the incredible gaffe of describing Waterloo, Iowa, earlier Monday as the home of the late movie star John Wayne, when it was really the home of John Wayne Gacy, a notorious serial killer. Never mind.
I have previously dissected some of Hannity's on-bended-knee interviews with Sarah Palin. And it is bad enough having to gag your way through them, let alone recounting each groveling moment. But until the video is made available, let me share some lowlights to give you a sense of this dabased exercise in cable TV as political theater.
"So, what do you make of the Iowa polls? We're you surprised?" Hannity asked, teeing up the first ball for her to try and hit out of the park with her pre-packaged talking points as the screen showed her in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney as Iowa frontrunner.
And she was off and running with the talking point about how her "messages have been resonating with the people of Iowa and America" blah, blah, blah.
He laid the groundwork for her to use the line about having a "titanium spine" twice, and if she didn't repeatedly contrast herself in a favorable way with President Barack Obama, whom she characterized in the interview as "being on the ropes," Hannity did.
In fact, when he finally got around to the Gacy question, he introduced it with a package of video clips showing verbal gaffes by Obama. And then, Hannity and Bachman concluded that compared to such Obama mistakes as saying there are 57 states, her Wayne remark was minor -- and besides, both Wayne and Gacy were born in Iowa. Come on, she had the state right, didn't she?
By the way, the "I was wrong, but my enemy has been wrong far more than I was" defense that Hannity handed to Bachmann Monday night is the same one comedian Jon Stewart used against Fox News last week to try and explain away his lie in an interview with Wallace on the June 19 edition of "Fox News Sunday."
But fixing the rift between Bachmann and Fox as a result of Wallace's "flake" question was main point of this kabuki. And after a little warm-up and a commercial break, Hannity introduced the matter by showing the question being asked by Wallace in one video, and then, following that with another video featuring Wallace's apology. A third video clip showed Bachmann rejecting it earlier today. (You can get all the details and video clips in my earlier post here.)
"He did apologize, Congresswoman," Hannity began referencing the video apology. "Can you update us on where things stand?"
Like he didn't already know the answer.
"I got a call at suppertime this evening and he apologized," Bachmann said of a phone call Wallace made to personally apologize directly to her.
"And I was happy to accept his apology," she said.
And, of course, now that the newest GOP contender and the news channel that is involved with the Republican Party like no other national TV press entity in the history of the country has ever been involved with a political party have made nice, everybody can move forward and move on -- which is just what Hannity and Bachmann urged. And Hannity can sleep well -- he served both masters, Fox News and the GOP Monday night. Wouldn't he make a great minister of information in a totalitarian regime?
I went too long on Bachmann, but I have barely scratched the surface of the dance she and Hannity did under the guise of an interview.
So, let me just say this about the Gingrich interview. In characterizing what has happened to Gingrich's campaign with 18 aides resigning as a "setback" and saying Gingrich had not let it slow him down, Hannity came as close as I have seen any American interviewer come to sounding like the Iraqi minister of information known as Baghdad Bob in 2003.
As for his chat with Bristol Palin, who is promoting a book, I actually did turn off the sound when I heard him tell her how "brave and courageous" she was. I will say no more.
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