July 19, 2006

The Bald Truth?

Philadelphia Weekly ran a truly bizarre cover story last week, a heavy-throated attack on local radio talk show host Michael Smerconish, illustrated with a photo of the back of Smerconish's bald head, and the question "Is Michael Smerconish Ready to Stop Being a Right-Wing Asswipe?"

Now, certain positions of Smerconish certainly deserve a level of skeptism, if not derision, and head-on character assassination can be very funny, especially coming in the alternative press. But Steven Wells' article whiffs, big time, probably because it's so bizarre and mean-spirited.

Wells' main point seems to be that he's dumbfounded that someone like Smerconish could grow up in the era of punk rock, yet somehow become a Reagan conservative rather than adopting a more punk-inflected lifestyle and politics. And in arguing this Wells makes a common alt-weekly mistake, in boiling down everything in life to simply "punk" vs. "anti-punk." Isn't Wells aware that Reagan's heyday lasted much longer, and had quite a few more supporters, than '70s punk ever did?

The author also seems unable to grasp why in the world someone would have politics different from his, and also sees "hope," at article's end, that since Smerconish has occasionally taken more moderate positions, he is getting ready to suddenly become a leftist. This betrays a certain ignorance both about how politics work (not everyone is down-the-line left or right), and how talk radio works (the host sometimes has to surprise, and challenge, his audience).

And worst of all, despite reading Michael's book, listening to his radio show for weeks, and watching all of his recent TV appearanes, Wells makes no mention at all of either Smerconish's mind-boggling recent interview with Debbie Schlussel, or his appearance the day before on MSNBC in a "Texas tuxedo."

Posted by Stephen Silver at July 19, 2006 12:11 AM

I don't think it was actually Smerconish's head. In fact I recall reading on Philadelphia Will Do that it was Tommy Up's head - he "owed A.D. Amorosi a favor."

Posted by: LilB at July 19, 2006 10:48 AM
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