The recent saga of Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy and his dispute with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over unpaid grazing fees has sparked a media war. On April 21, John Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show spent his entire first segment excoriating Fox News' Sean Hannity for his "support" of Bundy. He showed clips of Bundy asserting his refusal to recognize the authority of the federal government in Nevada.
Hannity responded the next day by explaining, ever-so-politely, that his position was that the BLM had greatly overreacted to the situation. On April 23, Stewart responded, as shown in the attached video, unleashing a string of invective against Hannity and his show. Today, liberal pundits are tripping over themselves to congratulate Stewart.
The problem with Stewart's supposedly epic take-down is that Stewart is a "lying liar who lies," as the kids like to say. Watch the clip. If you look past the crude jokes and bizarre facial expressions, what you find is intellectual dishonesty and rank hypocrisy.
First, even though he plays a clip of Hannity pointing out that it is the "proportionality" of the BLM's response that he objects to, Stewart dishonestly attacks Hannity for supporting Bundy's refusal to recognize the federal government. Hannity never said he agreed with Bundy on that statement or any other legal opinion. Yet, that is the primary point of Stewart's dishonest criticism.
Indeed, this is typical liberal deflection, attack the straw man. Conservatives have been up in arms, in some cases literally, over the conduct of the BLM. While some conservatives have come out in defense of the merits of Bundy's claims, most have restricted their criticisms to the actions of the BLM. The BLM has ample civil remedies to extract the unpaid grazing fees from Bundy. They could wait for the cattle to go to auction and take the money. They would have the money and the cattle would be gone. The show of force was absolutely unnecessary. But, why pay lawyers and clerks to do with paper that when you can pay dozens of armed thugs to do with military grade assault rifles, sniper rifles and helicopters?
Second, arguing Hannity is a hypocrite because he did not object in other cases where "force" was used by police officers is typical moral relativism, the art of drawing false equivalencies. Stop and Frisk? Pepper spray? If pepper spray were lethal rather than just painful and irritating or if Stop and Frisk was conducted at the point of a loaded assault rifle, Stewart might have a point.
But he does not. Consider the hypocrisy of his position. The judicious application of pepper spray (non-lethal) against a large number of students in order to break up an illegal act of civil disobedience is a disproportionate response when the cause is liberal. But, dozens of agents armed with military grade weapons and vehicles, including helicopters, directed at one family, is an acceptable response to an act of civil disobedience when the cause is not some liberal sacred cow. (Pun intended.) Even worse, unlike the protesting students, the BLM had other means of achieving its aims.
Third, Ted Nugent is offensive. But, despite rumor, he has never advocated the killing of anyone because of differing political or religious ideologies. Another dishonest, irresponsible comparison.
Fourth, despite accusing Hannity of being "disingenuous, hypocritical, non-factual, corrosive hackey, awful" etc., Stewart fails to present a single example of Hannity presenting false information. He fails to present a single instance of hypocrisy. Not one. He expects his audience to accept the truth of what he says because he said it and for no other reason. And, in large part, they will.
Finally, Stewart's reference to the Whisky Rebellion is not only disingenuous, it is an outrageously false comparison. The Whisky Rebellion was not about a single farmer or even a small group of farmers refusing to pay a usage fee they believed they did not owe. It occurred when some 500 armed men attacked the home of a tax official. The BLM was not responding to an armed assault or even the threat of an armed assault. (Though they claimed to be responding to the suggestion of the need for self-defense.) When you look into more details about the Rebellion, the comparisons only become more strained.
If there is any comparison to be made between Bundy Ranch and the Whisky Rebellion, it is that both have been suggested to be efforts by the federal government to provoke an armed response requiring military suppression.
John Stewart can go ahead and pat himself on the back for being a funny guy. He is a decent comedian with terrific writers. But, when it comes to political thought, he is a liberal hack who has little regard for the truth and a distant relationship with intellectual rigor. Vulgar jokes and funny faces do not constitute honest, substantive debate. His entire attack on Hannity is based on attributing to Hannity a position he never championed. Remember, if you are making a point against a false premise, you are not making a point at all, no matter how clever the presentation.