8.16.2007

Moore Michael II


More, Moore; this time defended by Arianna Huffington.


As a public speaker, it is interesting to watch and listen to Sean Hannity communicate with an opponent of his. I tend to imagine myself in the "Hannity Hot Seat". I try to envision my verbal and emotional responses in a rhetorical battle with the great (eyes rolling) Sean Hannity.

I recognize that Hannity is good at what he does. But what does he do? What makes him so good at it? I will try to let you into my perception of Sean Hannity's strategies. By default you will also take a peak inside of my play-book. I will give you an idea as to how I would communicate with him should he ever do himself the disservice of inviting me on his show. Debaters may post verbal strategies below or just let me know what you think of mine.

The first maneuver I notice in this interview platform, "The Hannity Hot Seat", is that Arianna's chair is noticeably lower than Sean's. This gives the appearance of an unequal relationship in favor of Sean. To the television and studio audience, it appears that King Sean is of greater import than Arianna his subject. I also wonder what type of psychological affect this position has on Arianna.

It has been extensively chronicled that in athletics a great team has an advantage over a challenger based on their past experiences. The mere legend of the great Celtic teams placed them in a power position akin to the way Sean's high chair places him in a power position. Like the Celtics of old, Sean has placed himself in a winner's position before the competition has begun.

One of the next procedures I notice is that once Arianna makes a good point, the first of which happens right after Sean plays her oil ad, Sean changes the focus of the conversation without giving her due credit. Take a look at how this game-plan unfolds.

Scenario

  • Sean plays the ad
  • Attempts to make Arianna look like a U.S. hater
  • She begins to correct his spin eloquently
  • Sean interrupts her
  • Sean changes the focus of the conversation
The effect of this move is two-fold. One, by ignoring her rebuttal Sean has apparently devalued Arianna's explanation. Two, by changing the focus of the conversation he has maintained the perceived legitimacy of his faulty assessment of the advertisement. So that despite her being in the midst of proving his assessment incorrect, his claim appears justified. This tactic seems to be Hannity's (and others) favorite strategy for defending their appearance against people who rightly disagree with him. It can be a devastating defense because Hannity is not defending his perspective but defaming his opponent's. Therefore, Hannity could be wrong along with his opponent without the viewer ever knowing because Hannity doesn't defend his own position. This strategy is repeated in the above conversation twice.

One of the final gimmicks that I notice is the amount of time afforded Hannity to setup his position and to condescend/slander his opponent versus the amount of time given to his opponent to defend him/herself or express an unscheduled point of view.

In the video example above you will notice how Sean goes on and on about Al Gore, Robert Kennedy Jr., and John Edwards being "hypocritical". As a result of this tactic, Arianna must now defend not only her position but Al, Bobby, and John as well. Well, she doesn't have to; but she feels compelled to.

Secondly, this tactic, provided Arianna takes the bait and defends Al, Bobby, and John, limits the amount of time she has to defend her position and almost completely nullifies any opportunity to go on the offensive and either attack Sean or communicate subject matter that Sean (or his team) did not personally schedule.

The most important lesson that I have learned from this interesting class in rhetoric is that the competitor that sounds the best and looks the brightest is not necessarily hold the correct position.

If it truly were a war on terror they'd arrest the KKK.
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