Liberal talk show host takes down Texas caller

This past Tuesday, Michelangelo Signorile, liberal activist and host of the “Michelangelo Signorile Show” on the Sirius XM Progress channel, obliterated a hateful conservative caller from Texas. Mike did such a masterful job that we asked him to make the audio of the call available, and he graciously obliged (see above). Here’s how the call went, with our breakdown of the juicy parts:

The caller, named “John,” first stated that:

Like I told your guy there, I’m not Republican, I’m not Democrat, I’m a 100 percent American. I want to see what’s best for the country, I don’t care if it’s left, right, down the middle or whatever.

This is the classic disclaimer from conservatives who call in to liberal radio shows in order to get past the screener. The “I’m a 100 percent American” phrase gives you a hint of what’s to come:

… But you was [sic] talking about the President carrying 49 percent of Hispanics, 87 percent of Hispanics, but just like I said, it’s, uh, free money is votes, and I know for a fact, I’m a, I haul all over Texas, I see it all, I been there, done that, ….

“I haul all over Texas” was a hint that the caller may be a truck driver. If so, “John” may have been exposed to lots of Rush Limbaugh and right wing talk radio courtesy of conservative corporations like Cumulus Media and Clear Channel that flood the nation’s airwaves.

Michelangelo immediately jumps in and asks, “what do you mean, ‘free money’?” John then proceeds:

How many Hispanics as you call them, come over here, and I’ll give you examples of the people that I know, that come over here and haven’t worked a day in their lives, and they’re getting welfare, they’re getting Social Security, ….

Michelangelo jumps in again, with a method that we can call “First the Facts, then Attack”:

First of all, there are no immigrants who are undocumented getting any federal money. The people who are getting the lion’s share of federal dollars because they are poor are white people…. Do you know that the majority of people on welfare are what John in Houston is, ‘100 percent American’ white people?… The majority of people on unemployment are white people. The majority of people on every program are white people. So this argument, it really wears thin …. The idea that people voted for the President because he’s given them money, no. People who voted for Mitt Romney were getting government money themselves. They’re rich people on welfare. You know those people? They’re really rich and they have all kinds of tax loopholes, and they don’t pay as much taxes as you do.

John comes back with the predictable Republican talking point:

Why are you against rich people? I mean, they didn’t take it away from you…

Again, Michelangelo has just the right reply:

I’m not against rich people, I want rich people to pay their fair share and not get tax loopholes. Mitt Romney paid 12 percent in taxes while the average American is paying 30 percent taxes.

John then resorts to another talking point, this time rooted in religion:

Well, what I’m saying is, 10 percent’s good enough for the good Lord, why isn’t it good enough for the American government?

Are you starting to see the pattern of thoughtless parroting from the conservative side? After a pause, Michelangelo again uses the “First the Facts, then Attack” method:

We cannot run this country on 10 percent, of everybody giving 10 percent of their income, and still have roads, and highways and infrastructure and bridges. You like those bridges, you like all those roads you drive in Texas?

Remember, John may be a truck driver, whose safety and livelihood may depend on having well-kept roads and bridges. Then Mike ups the Attack mode:

Your Governor [Rick Perry], right? He slashed the state budget, he slashed the fire department, we were just talking about it earlier, and the federal government had to come in and bail him out. I’m sick of bailing you people out, and your big giant state. You should be paying more money. You got a lot of people there, and your Governor has the gall to ask for a bailout from the President of the United States? What a moocher he is.

Note that Michelango’s use of “moocher” flips the script on shopworn Republican attacks, including John’s earlier remark about Hispanics and Willard Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” video. Poor John is left to stutter and quickly change the subject:

If, if the President’s so popular, why is [sic] his poll numbers down so much, so what is the problem with that now? Is it because the Hispanics and the blacks are finally figuring out that he, uh, kind of lied about what he said?

But Michelangelo again is ready with his “First the Facts, then Attack” method that is working really well thus far:

The President’s poll numbers are no lower than any other President except for George Bush of the past 30 years at this point in his presidency. Ronald Reagan was lower in his poll numbers than this President at this point in time. The only one who was the lowest was your last President who came from your state [George W. Bush], who ran your sloppy ass state, Texas…. And I say sloppy because your whole government is run in such a sloppy and snide way…. Are you proud of your last Governor?

John once more tries to change the subject:

And again, ….

But Michelangelo won’t let him, again asking:

John, are you proud of your last Governor, before Rick Perry? Because he took this country, … first he ran your state into the ground, and your next Governor had to be a moocher and ask for federal dollars, and then he ran the country into the ground, and took us to war based on lies, and thank God that President Obama saved this economy from George Bush, who bankrupted us with his war, and bankrupted us because he let the banks bilk everybody of billions of dollars. And what is he doing now? Sitting around in his library there painting, doing watercolors. Watercolors! Man, John, you have some losers, losers who’ve run your state. And you have the gall to talk about President Obama, man, or anybody else, when you have all of these moochers and losers who’ve run your state? Give me a break.

Michelangelo’s “First the Facts, then Attack” method was much more effective than a “just the facts” reply solely containing statistics and bar graphs that some liberals use, since facts alone will simply bounce off of the conservative mindset. Likewise, a strategy of “attack only” that other liberals use, simply resorting to ad hominem attacks on their political opponents, doesn’t move the dialogue forward and merely leads to Godwin’s Law. No, it’s “First the Facts, then Attack” (and the attack does not need to include personal insults) to put your opponent on the defensive. While Michelangelo Signorile has a long track record of writing, media appearances and activism and can do this naturally, you can try it too, whether it’s on a phone call to a radio show, on social media and elsewhere. Let us know how it works!






11 Responses to Liberal talk show host takes down Texas caller
  1. Janet Bunderson
    January 26, 2014 | 9:12 am

    Awesome! I heard it during the show…it was wonderful!

  2. Messaging Matters
    January 26, 2014 | 11:39 am

    Thanks Janet, me too!

    BTW, I’ve been tipped off that someone may have stolen this post when it was republished at the Daily Kos, and then plagiarized it, changing just a few words here and there and passing it off as his own work product. That a copyright violation and is legally actionable. We’re taking the appropriate curative steps.

    This should be obvious, but if you like a post, you can highlight it on your own blog by simply saying something like, “here’s a post by ____ with which we wholeheartedly agree” and then include the link. Alternatively, you can simply reprint a sentence or 2 of the original, then say “read the whole story here” with link to original.

    • Bob Cull
      January 26, 2014 | 12:13 pm

      I am the writer you accuse of plagiarizing your post and I have to disagree with you. I have just finished going over mine alongside yours, paragraph by paragraph and I can’t see where you are coming from.

      We were covering the same incident of course there will be similarities, but as I wrote I wasn’t even reading your words, although I read the whole thing before I began to write, I was reading the quotes from the show and basically working from them.

      The basic structure is similar but that stands to reason as it was the only logical way to write the piece. It isn’t the first time I have used that structure.

      We always credit the source that tipped us to the story, this time Daily Kos and I will admit to a pit of negligence on my part as I didn’t notice that they had credited this site as well.

      I am not looking for an argument but I do have to object to being accused of plagiarism.

      • Messaging Matters
        January 26, 2014 | 12:52 pm

        Bob, you admit to reading the piece at Daily Kos, and to “negligence.” Good start. What you did is plagiarism plain and simple. We contacted Mike Signorile last Tuesday when this call aired. We got him to send the audio of the call. We transcribed the quotes from the call. We published the piece here on Jan. 24, and immediately afterward at Daily Kos. Mike is thrilled with it and with the huge reception it got at Daily Kos.

        You didn’t report on the same incident, it appears you took our Daily Kos piece and recopied or rewrote it with only slight changes. Whether you did your copy and slight rewrite directly from or directly from our piece at Daily Kos makes no difference. It’s plagiarism and violates the copyright laws. Your plagiarism is damaging us every moment it’s up, drawing readers away from the original piece. Linking at the bottom is no cure, because readers won’t need to read something a second time when they already read the plagiarized piece from you.

        We’ve suggested 2 ways you can reference the Daily Kos piece instead of having your plagiarism recopy up there. That’s what we do when we see a Daily Kos piece that we like. If you choose not to follow our suggestion, we have no choice but to proceed with legal action, and we have no doubt the court will agree that you plagiarized us and stole our content.

  3. Pearl Louis
    January 27, 2014 | 4:20 pm

    So great to see someone knows this.

  4. L
    January 28, 2014 | 6:58 am

    This method of facts and attack (this is the part that is not in the liberal blood but needs to be to be productive in battle) was outstanding! Could this be done with food stamps? Need and hardship of a family, amount received in a year as individuals and then collectively as a nation vs. the subsidies (ex. NFL), loopholes, grants, etc that our nation loses to the wealthy each year. Robert Reich is good at these clear illustrations.

  5. Messaging Matters
    January 28, 2014 | 9:02 am

    Thanks L. This could be done with SNAP, and with just about any issue!

  6. Philip Diehl
    January 28, 2014 | 3:08 pm

    Man, this is as delicious as Smitty’s BBQ and a Shiner Bock. As a native Texan, I love seeing one of our Neanderthugs have his head handed to him. Signorile may have gotten a few of his facts wrong, but so what. Progressives are often so cautious about having all their facts exactly right that the right wing ranters run circles around them. I say, “Load the cannons and fire away.” It’s long past time for us to take the offensive.

    Thanks , MM.

  7. Messaging Matters
    January 28, 2014 | 4:07 pm

    Thanks Philip, Mike is in command of a lot of information, but if you’re on a live talk show, you can’t possibly have every little fact at hand that might be relevant to calls that come in and are not screened for content. In general, it’s always a good idea to have documented facts at the ready, at least regarding big issues which are likely to arise.

  8. Mindy H.
    January 29, 2014 | 3:53 am

    (excuse the length but please bear with me)

    Radio is 91% dominated by (what is considered by today’s standards) “conservative” programmes. There is a real need for the voices of reason to counter-balance the idiocy and lies, as well as overcome the dogmatic ideology being transmitted over the airwaves and thus rescue our democracy and the future of America from the clutches of ignorance.

    Clear Channel owns approximately 600 radio stations that transmit all over the country including rural areas that carry only one radio station.

    Imagine driving across certain areas of Texas that stretch for hundreds miles on end where the land is flat and the scenery is monotonous. It is boring. The only reprieve is listening to the radio or otherwise chance falling asleep. But the majority if not all of those areas only carry one 1 radio station — the same station that transmits Rush Limbaugh.

    So when Limbaugh claims fame to twenty million listeners it is instructive to note that a sizable portion of those listeners have no other choice. In other words, they are a captive audience.

    But listening to Limbaugh spewing vile, hateful lies and bellowing utterly vitriolic rhetorical nonsense day-in and day-out does take its toll on the human psyche. I’ve seen Intelligent rational, thinking people turn into unreasonable and irrational individuals who are so e_motionally invested in their own anger that they can no longer think straight.

    Rush Limbaugh is paid $40 million to do what he does which is to say sowing the seeds of hatred that are poisoning our society. Of course he is not solely responsible nor is he the only one who is paid the big bucks, however, democracy and liberty will not and cannot survive in a country where dogmatic ignorance is encouraged and runs rampant, reason and logic, facts and evidence are tossed out & nonexistent, and e_motional outbursts are commonplace. That needs to change.

    While I doubt Michelangelo’s method will change the minds of hardened far-right extremists they are not the intended audience anyhow. No, the people in the middle, the centre right, and moderates are the targets. But they need to hear the voices of reason and logic to break through and overcome the rampant ignorance and discord that plagues our nation.

    We can do this. This is a battle we can win. The sooner, the better.

    Until then, America’s future continues to hang in the balance.

  9. Messaging Matters
    January 29, 2014 | 12:53 pm

    Mindy, thanks for filling in some more info. on the prevalence and monopoly that right wing talk radio enjoys in parts of the country. We need to use websites, blogs, social media, Internet radio shows like “Turn Up the Night with Kenny Pick” ( and all means at our disposal to combat that domination.

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