Talk radio update

AM730 announced it would start carrying Mike Huckabee’s new show at 10 a.m. Monday. That’s when Michael Smerconish’s show now airs, and it wasn’t clear whether Smerconish would be replaced or simply displaced. Too bad if it’s replaced: Smerconish annoys me in certain ways, but he is the one talk show voice here that isn’t predictably right wing. Huckabee, in contrast to Limbaugh, comes across as a decent human being, but I can’t recall having ever heard him say anything remotely interesting about politics.

Hannity was in “It’s a tragedy, all the way around mode” two weeks ago on the Trayvon Martin case. Last week, he was in the “Zimmerman is being framed by liberal racists” camp. This week, he seemed to retreat a bit. Now he’s the objective observer who just wants all the facts out. Mostly, he seemed to favor facts that suggested Zimmerman’s innocence, but it’s a step forward for Hannity when he even pretends to be objective.

As always, NPR trumped them all. Last week, NPR did it with a heartbreaking account of a North Korean who as a child had overheard his mother and brother talking about trying to escape the country. As a loyal, brainwashed young fan of tyranny, he turned them in. He and his father were both arrested and hauled off to prison where they were beaten and tortured for a few months. Then, one day, they were taken out and forced to watch his mother being hung and brother shot. He said he could not bear to look at his mother’s face.

Eventually, he himself escaped, alive and well, but with this story to haunt him.

This week, NPR triumphed with an interview of Jonathan Turley, the law professor who is generally a staunch defender of liberty. He used to appear a lot on MSNBC when he was attacking the Bush administration for its assaults on freedom. I don’t see him much anymore, perhaps because he is now attacking the Obama administration for carrying on the same practices.

This week, he was highly critical of Obama for his remarks about the Supreme Court in connection with the Affordable Health Care case. I have a lot of respect for Turley’s opinions, but I have to say I don’t quite see what the big deal is here. While lots of critics see Obama’s remarks as an attack on the justices, I don’t. Strictly speaking, he was just expressing his confidence that they would do the right thing by agreeing with him.

I can see why a lawyer would consider it bad form for his client to give judges advice. But I’m not sure why Obama should be the only citizen in America who doesn’t express an opinion about how the court ought to rule. Heck, Gingrich got less criticism for saying that the president and Congress should just ignore judges’ decisions they don’t like. And it didn’t take Jon Stewart long to find tape of Mitt Romney blasting “unelected judges.”

Some critics said Obama was trying to intimidate the court. But how? By refusing to sign their paychecks? By ordering drone attacks against them? If justices can’t stand up to that bit of mild exhortation, they don’t deserve to have the job.


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