Friday, April 15, 2005

Harry Shearer, investigative comedian

Harry Shearer's radio show, imaginatively called "Le Show," has some bitingly funny bits, but often simply proves how difficult it is to fill a half hour of air with truly funny stuff. Last time I listened, he was playing off-camera tapes of Dan Rather, and they didn't strike me as funny or newsworthy.

But this is incendiary stuff.

If the conservative guests on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes" sound especially on-message, that's because they're being coached by the best:

Sean Hannity himself.

On the March 31 installment of the shouting-head show, the guests included two of the late Terri Schiavo's former nurses, Trudy Capone and Carla Sauer Iyer, arguing that their patient wasn't brain-dead.

Between commercials, according to an off-air audiotape obtained by investigative comedian Harry Shearer for last Sunday's episode of his weekly radio program, "Le Show," Hannity coached the women on exactly how to respond when liberal co-host Alan Colmes cross-examined them.

"Just say, 'I'm here to tell what I saw,'" Hannity can be heard instructing his guests. "No matter what the question, 'I'm here to tell you what I saw. I'm here to tell you what I saw.'"

Hannity adds helpfully: "Say, 'I'm not going to be distracted by silliness.' How's that? Does that help you? Look into that camera. Look at me when I'm talking."

On the air, Iyer performs beautifully. "I don't have any opinions or judgments. I was there," she declares

After the segment ends, Hannity gushes off the air to the nurses: "We got the points out. It's hard, this isn't easy. But you did great, both of you. Thank you, guys. Those nurses are powerful, aren't they?"

When my favorite conservative newsman, JimmyJeff GannonGuckert, appeared at the National Press Club last week, he punditzed thusly: "You can hardly call Fox News conservative."

Almost right. Only a minor change to word order is required. When the guests are coached by one of the hosts, who then preens after "we got the points out," I think the correct statement is "You can hardly call Fox Conservative news."

"Investigative comedian." I like the sound of that. We need a bunch more of them, since we sure as hell don't have any "investigative journalists" anymore.


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