Conor v. Levin, the next round

by David Frum

Yesterday, just as predicted, the radio host Mark Levin vituperatively exploded on his Facebook page in response to Conor Friedersdorf and me. He called me "FrumBum." Ouch. Ow.

What will happen today?

Yesterday afternoon, Conor tweeted a link to another item on Levin's FB page. An hour before deploying his famous wit against me, Levin had also written the following:

In radio and TV you find hosts who claim to be the first to do this or that. It is an effort to persuade their listeners and viewers that they have had the intelligence and courage to take on Obama and these powers before anyone. The problem is that, for the most part, it's not true. Most radio hosts and cable hosts tend to be followers, or they hope to seize on a concept developed by another, to claim credibility and draw attention to themselves.

In my case, all my commentary, whether on radio or in my books, is original or gives credit to those who generated the thoughts first. I believe it is very important that radio hosts, like writers or even students, have the grace, class, and ethics to play by the rules. Perversely, this sometimes is said to evoke jealousy. It has nothing to do with jealousy and everything to do with integrity. In any event, I have taken lots and lots of heat for characterizing Obama as a socialist and Marxist when I first did so well over a year ago. If you care, here's a clip from my June 15, 2009 radio program:

There are others which date earlier, but this will suffice.

You may wonder: Why would anyone boast of having been the first to introduce a noxious falsehood into American life? Why take credit for ugly and stupid propaganda?

But human vanity is an amazing thing. There is always someone who wishes to be known as the person who ate the most hot dogs. Back in medieval York, I'm sure there was considerable scuffling over who was the first to think of accusing the Jews of grinding up Christian babies to make matzah.

In the Levin case, though, there is at least entertainment potential. Levin's paranoid accusations may be nasty, but at least the thin-skinned host's distinctive combination of vanity and vulnerability offers Conor an unendingly promising hobby. And the next time Levin calls Conor "Friedersdork," Conor should reply with John Cleese of Monty Python: "Be quiet or I shall taunt you some more!"