- On Sunday evening, at the suggestion of a friend of mine who works inside the NY radio broadcast community, I guest-hosted Brian Whitman's talk show on WABC radio, which was, ultimately, hijacked by talk-show host Sean Hannity, who called in and demanded to be heard. He was accompanied by another ABC Talk Radio host, Mark Levin, someone I had never heard of before that evening.
After some back and forth between myself and Hannity, most of it predictable, Levin made a comment connected to my divorce proceedings. I turned to Whitman, who knew that I was due to depart the show no later than 8:30 PM New York time anyway, and told him I had to go. I thought that Levin, whoever he may be and whatever code he does or does not operate by, had crossed a line and I was under no obligation to continue in that vein.
Alec Baldwin may not remember Mark Levin, but I sure do.
Levin was one of the Republican right's chief talking heads during the Clinton impeachment, especially on MSNBC, where I was working at the time. One of my jobs at the Web site entailed downloading video from our cable shows and putting them up on the site. Levin was on. A lot.
Levin is George Costanza with an endless vicious streak. He's the embodiment of shrillness. He scowls, he sneers, he yells, he bugs his eyes out, his face turns red, he interrupts incessantly, and he makes the nastiest comments imaginable. Most of all, he exudes a simmering but deep-seated hatefulness. If he were a dog, he'd be an ugly poodle-chihuahua mix in a perpetual roid rage. It's hard to imagine anyone more repellent.
And as someone who was tracking what was said on TV and comparing it to the published facts, it was also clear that he was a congenital liar. He had no compunction whatsoever about repeating any kind of falsehood on the air if it would hurt Clinton and advance the cause of impeachment. This included, of course, a lot of nasty personal insinuations about the Clintons' private lives.
Nowadays, as SourceWatch explains, he's the head of Rush Limbaugh's "legal division" (whatever that is). But he also has a history: He was former Attorney General Edwin Meese's chief of staff, and was Meese's attorney during the Iran-Contra investigation.
He was also closely attached with Ted Olson during the 1990s. And as Meese's chief of staff, he also was directly involved in the machinations that got Olson and Edward Schmults off the legal hook regarding their misleading and likely perjurious testimony before Congress.
Nowadays, he even has a fan Web site. And of course, now that a Republican holds the presidency, he finds the opposition to President Bush "far more shrill" than he can remember. I spent a week chortling to myself about that one.
And more recently, he's been busy leading the right-wing attack on the judiciary, even publishing a book with a title (Men in Black Robes) that echoed similar titles from the extreme-right Posse Comitatus folks. Obviously, Sandra Day O'Connor is not one of his fans.
Baldwin got a taste for how viscerally nasty guys like Levin, and so many of these right-wing figures -- including Hannity -- really are. And I bet if he hung around Bill O'Reilly long enough, he'd start to see that side of him as well.