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Stephanie Miller Is Our Latest Top Dog

Reported by Ellen - September 16, 2006 -

The anti-Hollywood theme continued on Hannity & Colmes last night as attention turned away from Rosie O’Donnell (who engendered two H&C debates with her comment that radical Christians are as dangerous as radical Muslims) and moved on to Sean Penn. Penn became the scapegoat of the day for saying, as substitute co-host Bob Beckel put it, that “Bush may bring facism to America” and that he has “quote devastated our democracy and has done enormous damage to this country and mankind.” But instead of the usual Democratic pundit knocking Penn and saying that he doesn’t represent Democrats, radio talk show host Stephanie Miller made all the right points: That FOX News makes a point of attacking liberals, that the right wing attacks on dissenters are anti-democratic, that there’s a double-standard for Republicans on FOX News and that Democrats are patriots, too. She played offense instead of defense, and she did it all with a smile.

Ordinarily with these kinds of FOX News discussions, the Democrats go on defense. Even when they “win” the debate, the questions have been left in the viewers’ mind and their defensive position makes them look weak. Bob Beckel started to use the classic FOX News Democratic “strategy” of knocking Penn by calling him, in so many words, a stoner. He was probably getting ready to make the classic argument that Penn doesn’t represent Democrats.

But Miller made no apologies, made no attempt to distance herself from Penn, even though she acknowledged later in the discussion that she did not think Bush is a fascist. She told Beckel, “Every time a liberal says something, it’s a topic du jour here on FOX News. Look, when you have John Boehner, the Republican House Majority Leader, saying, basically, the Democrats – they want to help protect the terrorists, not Americans. What kind of democracy is that? Literally, that is their talking point, that you’re not patriotic, you hate America, you’re morally confused if you don’t agree with the Republicans.”

That edged Beckel away from talking about Penn, the FOX News-preferred focus. Instead, Beckel agreed that Boehner was “essentially saying that we were all traitors.”

Miller continued, “Exactly, or pick anything that Pat Robertson or Ann Coulter says on a nightly basis and I don’t frankly think this is that bad. You know, many, many people think the president is damaging democracy. He has a Secretary of State that’s calling us ‘morally confused’ if we disagree with them. That’s not democracy.”

Then she sweet-talked Sean Hannity by calling him a “big hunk of conservative stud meat,” (I almost gagged but as a general principle, I believe in catching more flies with honey). “You’re really, really wrong about everything and that’s why God made you pretty.” Hannity, in a truly funny response, said he could say the same thing about her.

Next, Miller deftly sidestepped Hannity’s hackneyed invective against the Democrats for being “weak on national security,” “having a pre-9/11 mentality,” the rest of which anyone who watches him for more than three nights can probably recite. Rather than allowing Hannity to reframe the discussion, Miller told him she didn’t hear a thing after he said she was pretty and returned to the subject of facism. “The sad fact for you and I as Americans that love our country is, a lot of people around the world agree with what Sean Penn said. If you look at what the 14 characteristics (of fascism) are, one of the big ones is calling people that do not agree with you unpatriotic.”

Later, Hannity, with his sincere face, said that “the problem” is that Democrats “undermine the president, the country and the troops while we’re in harm’s way.”

Miller answered, “You know what puts the troops in harm’s way? Is condoning torture and that’s why the Senate stood up to the president.”

Unlike most Democrats on FOX News, Miller was not content to simply survive the attacks on them. She obviously knew Hannity’s style and she was prepared with arguments to make on behalf of those who disagree with the Bush administration’s and/or Republicans’ agenda. Why aren’t there more like her?

You can watch the entire discussion on FOXNews.com. You'll probably have to click on "Click here for more video" for at least the first few days.