Ride, Sally … Ride.
Sally Kohn and the Importance of Liberal Punditry
Elizabeth Jensen wrote piece in the New York Times today about Sally Kohn … something I’ve actually been intending to do for a while. I took this as a sign that today was the day, so here we go:
I’m not sure how I ended up following Sally on Twitter, but I have for quite a while. Her tweets are always easy to spot. They sing that old familiar song from Sesame Street, “One one these things is not like the other …” That’s Sally in a nutshell. Hard-cutting, unapologetically liberal opinions floating in a conservative sea of red. At least that’s what it looks like on my Twitter feed.
The first time Sally joined our show was in the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. I’d seen her on Fox News from time to time, but I’d never read anything she’d actually written. But this time, she’d constructed a piece regarding “shooter bias” that I couldn’t ignore, and I knew we had to have her on.
Since that day, Sally is — and continues to be — one of the best guests we have on the show. I wish I could stop writing at this point, letting a compliment just be a compliment and move on, but I can’t. A trend — a disturbing one – occurs after her segments, without fail and regardless of topicality. I’m always inundated with negative feedback via facebook, Twitter, listener phone calls, etc.
A few examples:
“Why are you wasting your time with that liberal nut???”
<insert random juvenile insult about sexual orientation>
“I literally have to turn off the radio when you have her on.”
Aside from the personal insults and low blows, the shallow nature of this just screams of ignorance.
I guess different producers have different goals for their shows. Obviously the element of entertainment is crucial, but when it comes to the shows’ missions, they vary. I think the vast majority of conservative programming is designed to energize the base, and I appreciate that, but my approach to our show is not unlike my view on what church should be.
I will always want to go deeper.
I don’t go to church to hear about how God loves me unconditionally, and how perfect I am in His eyes. I go to church to be challenged, convicted, and compelled to act. It shouldn’t ever feel like Six Flags Over Jesus.
When Sally joins us, I walk away with these same sentiments. She displays consistent resolve on the issues, which challenges me to give thoughtful consideration to my own. As I examine the logic behind my own positions, I find that, typically, I’m taken to a deeper place of conviction. When the contrast is laid before me, and I see — what I believe to be — fundamental error in the agenda of the other side, I’m energized, that much more, to be proactive in defending my own mission of limiting the size of government and promoting personal liberty.
And to Sally’s credit, on occasion, <gasp!> I have slightly amended my position – not because she’s a master of deception, no, but because sometimes we are just so scared of that evil “other side” that we fail to see the flaws that lurk beneath the surface in our own thinking.
Were it not for the inclusion of strong liberal commentary like that which is offered by Sally, I would likely keep the channel on CNN (save my sacred 5pmCT hour with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday). I already watch CNN the vast majority of the time because I don’t need to hear my beliefs regurgitated by one conservative pundit after another. I need thoughtful exchanges and challenging commentary that force me to appraise my own political heart and moral compass.
That’s what Sally brings, and for this I am grateful. So from one cold-hearted snarky conservative to one equally snarky, but consistently bleeding-heart liberal, I say, “Keep riding, Sally.”
I consider you a sister, and I appreciate you.