Friday, May 09, 2008

On How Not to Treat Your Gracious Host

Last week I was listening to a Talk of the Nation podcast like I usually do at the gym. Actually...sometimes I wish I listened to them live so that I could have the opportunity every now and then to try and call in. But then, of course, I wouldn't have new material to keep me entertained at the gym. The closing segment was a pretty good discussion about the then newly released Grand Theft Auto 4. Neal Conan had on a guest from G4 (Adam Felbur? Adam Sessler? Who is Adam Felbur and why did that name first pop in to my head?), and they had a pretty nice discussion of the game's non-controversial aspects, but then gave fair attention to said aspects that do in fact exist. It was the kind of conversation that grown ups like to sometimes have until everyone's favorite fallacy jockey, Jack Thompson called up.

The interview was actually pretty predictable once Mr. Thompson got on the air, that is to anyone familiar with his hyperbole and his boasting of how he plans to bring the game's producers to justice by having them face criminal charges. Somewhere in the conversation Jack forgot that he was on Talk of the Nation and not the O'Reilly Factor. From what I've heard being a fan of the show for almost a year now (I know people like to make fun of how dry public radio is, but what can I say...it's like learning to love the taste of popcorn without butter and salt), I would say now that Neal Conan is not the type of radio host on whom you try to pull the same kind of bullshit that thrives on major television news networks' pundit-personality talk shows. The man is largely respectful, gracious, even-handed and maintains a pretty high level of objectivity in his questions.

During his time on the air, Jack made a comment that he was working with Florida law enforcement agencies to see that justice is served with regard to the afore mentioned criminal charges. After admitting that he was being harshly critical of a game that he had not even played yet, Neal Conan asked Jack which law enforcement agencies he was working with, because that's generally the type of follow up question you might expect in an interview after having brought up the topic yourself:

Neal: "...and which law enforcement agencies are you working with?"

Jack Thompson: "I'm not going to tell you."

Neal: "Alright. Well, thanks very much for talking to us."

Jack Thompson: "I'm done?"

Neal: "You're done."

Jack Thompson: "Oh great, well maybe I'll go play the game now."

Neal: "Good luck." *click*

I think what's so funny and telling about this is that Jack Thompson might literally be stuck in "O'Reilly mode." The man is such a joke at this point that the only type of media attention he can get is on shows like The O'Reilly Factor, Glen Beck, Hannity & Colmes, etc, shows whose ratings rely not on the intelligence of their content but how fun they are to watch, and we all know controversy = fun. I can only imagine this is why Jack not only felt it was appropriate to tell his host to go shove it, but also why he seemed shocked from being given the boot after only a minute or so of air time and before he could really start ranting like he's become accustomed to.