Monday, September 01, 2014

Sean Hannity elevates lying to an artform

I've been trying to engage in more life-affirming activities which means ignoring the ill-informed haranguing about current events. I'm taking a break from my moratorium to point out my appreciation for Sean Hannity's lies which are so elegant that they can be appreciated as art.

Recently, Sean Hannity interviewed sports analyst Stephen A. Smith on his radio show (the Ferguson discussion begins at 7:00) ostensibly to discuss the racial implications of the Ferguson shooting and aftermath with a "reasonable black man". The interview morphed into a dissertation of lies and prejudices without any journalistic acumen or even an attempt to arrive at the truth. To wit, listen starting at the 7:00 mark.

Five points:

1) Suborbital fracture. Hannity broaches the now debunked canard that the police officer had a suborbital facial fracture, implying that Michael Brown beat him up. This is bullshit, and any respectable journalist, commentator or just plain human being would try to corroborate that incendiary factoid before presenting it as fact. The fracture story was made up out of whole cloth by some divisive liar (Gatewaypundit) who has a long history of incendiary lies. Hannity knew this, and if he didn't know it, then he is a poorly informed moron.

2) Protestors are bussed in. Hannity then lies about the the number of non-Ferguson residents who were arrested. ABC reports that of the 78 arrests, 58 were from the Ferguson area.

3) Michael Brown was threatening. Hannity spews the unproven and unproveable conjecture that Brown threatened and rushed at the officer before taking 6 bullets at close range. This is all bullshit, reported as fact. If Hannity wants to investigate something, why doesn't he look into the absence of bodycams and dashcams in Ferguson. We learned over the ensuing 5 days that the Ferguson Police Department has all matter of assault vehicles, MRAPs, body armour, helmets, tactical weapons, etc, but they cannot afford a $100 bodycam? WTF? And since we have no official video, why spew BS about what you think "might have" possibly happened?

4) No police report. Hannity goes into detail about the alleged activities of the fateful day, but has no problem that a police report has not been filed two full weeks (now three as I type) after the incident. The allegations outlined are all based on hearsay and flawed eyewitness accounts. If Hannity were a truthful journalist he would at least mention that he is engaging in blind conjecture and that the police are not forthcoming with their side of the story. At the same time the FPD took the time to release the Quiktrip video of Michael Brown's strong-arm robbery. Why the asymmetric release of information if not to shape the story. A journalist would recognize this as brazen.

5) My final point is subtle, but nonetheless an important weapon in the arsenal of the liar. Stepehn A. Smith was invited to first discuss his suspension from ESPN for alleged sexual harassment and Hannity commiserates with Smith for the first 7 minutes of the interview about how these issues are hard to figure out and the unfairness, yada yada, yada. This is done to disarm the "reasonable black man" for the real discussion: how race in Ferguson unfairly cast blame on a white cop who shot an unarmed black kid. Smith has been de-fanged by the frank conversation of his alleged wrongdoing and much less likely to call out the host when he subsequently lies like a rug.

Hannity is a master.

Book Review: Inferno, by Dan Brown

I listened to the audiobook of Dan Brown's Inferno. He follows his usual formula of phrenetic chases with Robert Langdon and a beautiful, intelligent compatriot, ala James Bond. Langdon is his geeky protagonist who always finds himself in a mess and must save the world using his wits and vast knowledge of some ancient text, this time it's Dante's saga poem The Inferno.

Hewing to the formula, Brown puts Langdon in remarkable places, this time it's Florence, Venice and Istanbul, perusing works of art and architectural wonders, and of course, running through the streets away from the bad guys. Langdon uses his insights on history to uncover the mystery of the story and save the world. This episode involves an evil genius who was developed a vector virus designed to reduce human fertility and thus save the planet from being overrun by our species in a Malthusian catastrophe of overpopulation.

While not garnering the positive reviews of his past books, Inferno was a commercial success and spurred popular interest in Dante as well as increased travel to Italy and Turkey. It does stimulate desire to see the cathedrals and museums described in the book.

One complaint I have is the length of the book. Sure, Brown is extremely readable and the plot moves fast, but hours of chase scenes (on the audiobook) is too much. No editor was available? Another issue is the absence of explanation as to how this vector virus renders humans infertile. What is the mechanism? How do they know it will only affect 30% of the population? The third quibble is the presence of not only one, but TWO evil geniuses. Come on.

Putting the small problems aside, Inferno does what it is supposed to do: keep the reader interested while getting educated about architecture, ancient literature and art. Mission accomplished. Brown's forte is not molecular biology and reproductive medicine. Fine.