Sally Kohn, a progressive commentator who used to work for Fox before a recent move to CNN, has a post up at Yahoo News titled "What I Learned as a Liberal Talking Head on Fox News." What she learned, she says, is that the people at Fox aren't ogres ("My time at Fox News was marked by meeting and working with some of the kindest, smartest, and most talented people I've had the pleasure of meeting in life"). From this, she says, has come a profound lesson:
Once I had that experience with some of the most visible voices on "the other side" -- in my case, the right -- it was an easy leap to find connection and compassion with everyday conservative audiences. These aren't evil people, either, or stupid, or any of the other things that some liberals, in their lowest moments, have suggested.So ... how did that work out for Kohn during her Fox years? Well, I see that she wrote a column during the 2012 campaign titled "I Like Michelle Malkin." In it, she said some very nice things about Malkin, and also called for a general improvement in our political discourse:
... if I want [my] viewpoint -- and those who share it -- to get more powerful, so that we can fix these systemic problems once and for all, then demonizing people who disagree with me won't help. In fact, I need to persuade them. And no one will even listen to your argument, let alone agree with you, if they think you don't like them....
The bottom line: We respond more positively to and are persuaded by people who treat us pleasantly....
Kindness, respect, finding the basic goodness and human dignity in everyone ... that is how we begin the conversations that lead to change.
But the larger point is that, with a very few Hitler-esque exceptions, I don’t believe and I hope that no one in politics or public life believes that those who disagree with us are fundamentally evil. I believe Michelle Malkin is a smart person, a loving mother and a patriot who wants the best for her country.But she also accused Malkin of engaging in "hysterical hyperbole" (quite accurately, I'd say):
In a recent column, Michelle Malkin argued that Mitt Romney is being naively civil in calling President Obama a "nice guy". Malkin decried "disastrous, bend-over bipartisanship" and wrote, "it's not nice to delude the American electorate in the name of comity, politesse, and simpering civility."She then went on the radio show of Sean Hannity -- whom she describes in today's column as "a good friend and mentor" -- and debated Malkin on the air. It was not a civil debate:
What I find endlessly impressive about Michelle Malkin is her ability to condemn supposed incivility on the part of the left while championing incivility on the part of the right. Accusing the left of sexist attacks against the Right while demeaning progressive women as "femme-a-gogues". Bemoaning racist smears against her own Filipino heritage while labeling Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren "Fauxchahontas". Labeling Barack Obama a bully while mobilizing her own website of aggressive Internet trolls who nastily attack anyone who disagrees with her. You've got to respect a woman who can so blatantly misrepresent the actions and intentions of her opponents in an attempt to disguise from her own bad behavior.
"I think we can disagree without being disagreeable," said Kohn. No sooner did she make this assertion than the conversation descended into a name calling and screaming between the two pundits.The rest of the right-o-sphere responded about as positively as Malkin. The Right Scoop posted audio of the debate under the headline "Red Meat: Michelle Malkin Torches Sally Kohn for Her Phony Civility." Mofo Politics used the headline "Michelle Malkin Yells at Psychotic Liberal Sally Kohn," and added:
"I think that Sally has made quite a nice name and career for herself casting herself as the voice of reasonableness and mistaking her own smugness as civility," responded Malkin. "I really don't need lectures from her or anybody else about having to get along with liberals and progressives." ...
"What she wants to do is cast me as a hypocrite for calling out liberals for their rape jokes, death threats, serial misogyny against conservative women," said Malkin. She defended her comments about liberals that some find offensive as being "funny."
"look, you want to call it moral equivalence and dismiss it that way, that's fine," said Kohn. "I'm not going to have the fight with you. I'm just not."
"You're the one that accused me of hysterical hyperbole," Malkin said to Kohn....
"You're a coward," Malkin said.
"I'm not entirely sure I know how to respond," Kohn replied. She apologized to Malkin but her apology was rejected. "I'm a naive idealist who believes in America that we can uphold the tradition of our founders that we can disagree with each other,: said Kohn.
Hannity did say that Malkin should accept Kohn's apology, but she refused. "This is all kabuki theater," said Malkin. "She's not going to be happy until we are all completely politically and ideologically lobotomized and only speak in dulcet tones the way that NPR hosts do."
Just own your outrage, Sally. Or walk away from partisan warfare altogether. Don't try to have it both ways.