Thursday, December 17, 2009

Joy Behar should debate Marc Morano

(I'm expanding this from a comment I left on a Chris Mooney thread on how to deal with Morano.)

A while back I had a random radio moment where I listened to someone I'd never heard before, Joy Behar, take apart the evil and smart creationist/denialist, Ann Coulter. Behar is one of a number of talking heads that CNN has - she's a liberal but seems primarily interested in pop culture and only secondarily in politics.

Unfortunately I can't find the clip online, but Behar did two things very effectively that were the exact opposite of what I would've done. First, she kept throwing a rapid-fire variety of attacks at Coulter, barely responding to Coulter's evasions before taking up a new attack . By contrast, I would've stuck to one narrow subject to try and prove beyond a doubt that I was right and that Coulter/Morano was wrong. Behar has instead found her own response to the Gish Gallop, (the "Behar Canter"?), simply by attacking repeatedly but truthfully, and beating the other side at their own game.

Second, Behar's attacks were all directed at Coulter's side and Coulter's political allies, but never at Coulter herself. This contrasts to my thinking that debating someone like a Lomborg or a Lott is a chance to focus like a laser on all his misrepresentations, and get him the reputation he deserves. Behar instead keeps audience's sympathy by avoiding a "mean" attack on Coulter herself. She might have also flummoxed Coulter a little more because Coulter wouldn't be as familiar with lies said by her allies as she would be with her own lies. (Update: maybe I should clarify that the exchange Behar had with Coulter wasn't about climate, but it was still relevant.)

Just an impression, anyway, but maybe worth copying. Behar couldn't do a long debate alone against Morano without knowing more about climate, but she could take him on her show for a five-minute segment. I'd like to see that, which is the only publicity I've ever wished for Morano. I might even email my suggestion to Behar.

Just to finish off, here's the alternate advice I suggested at Chris Mooney's for debating Morano: "the debate be solely about the following: 'Resolved, the items posted on a Climate Depot for the week of [pick one week randomly] were mostly accurate.' The only way to counter the Gish Gallop is to nail Morano down to a record. Even a week might have too many posts to conclusively prove him to be full of frass, so a shorter period might be needed."

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