The day the university announced its decision to permit Kevin Barrett to teach the one course he was hired to teach, he appeared on "Hannity and Colmes," introduced by Alan Colmes as "University of Wisconsin professor Kevin Barrett." If those words had come out of Sean Hannity's mouth, it would have provided a good occasion to accuse Hannity of being slanted and out to paint UW as a bunch of radical crazies. But it came from Colmes, the show's liberal, so it's just a nice demonstration of how lots of folks don't notice the distinction between professors and lecturers, even part time lecturers like Barrett. He's teaching here. He's one of the professors as far as the general public is concerned.
Let's go to the videotape:
Colmes begins and tries to present Barrett in a fairly positive light by bringing out the facts that the course is not required, that the 9/11 conspiracy theory will take up "only about one week" of the course, that the students will not be required to "regurgitate" his theory, and that he means to inspire "critical thinking." (Smarter students, I note, may want to regurgitate.)
From the moment he begins speaking, Barrett twitches and jerks around quite oddly and speaks in a breathless, excited way. He tries to unload a torrent of words about the theory and won't stop to give Colmes a chance to get through his series of questions, which are quite clearly designed to put Barrett in a positive light. Barrett, however, is so keen on his theory, he'd rather spout conspiracy. He looks nutty even before Hannity starts the questions that are meant to trash him. That is, Barrett's a witness who mucks up the direct examination. It doesn't take cross-examination to bring out the problems.
When Hannity takes over, Barrett interrupts him in the middle of his first question. When Hannity insists on finishing the question, Barrett smugly goes "Yeah, yeah, finish up." On Hannity's show! As if he thinks the only people who are watching are folks who think Hannity's a jackass. Hannity asks him if he really believes 9/11 and other terrorists attacks were "an inside job." Barrett, inspiring no confidence that he will allow students to debate with him, says sharply, "I don't believe, I do know that 9/11 was an inside job." Barrett then tries to lay out the details of the theory. The word "thermate" comes out of his mouth. (It's supposed to be "thermite," but why be precise?) [ADDED: Apparently, there is something called "thermate," which, like thermite, has a role in the conspiracy theory.]
Hannity breaks in to say, "All right, so you believe that the buildings came down in a controlled demolition." Again, Barrett excludes the possibility of alternate theories: "Well, I don't believe it. I've looked at the evidence, and the evidence is overwhelming." Hannity's response is perfect: "All right, the evidence is overwhelming to you because you're a conspiracy nut." Hannity tries to set up his next question: "But putting that all aside..." That's perhaps the funniest line of the night, but it's stepped all over by Barrett, who motormouths conspiracy theory. Hannity goes ahead and asks his question with Barrett yammering over him. Hannity finally just lets the man babble. Then, he mutters, "Okay, I wish I had the 'Twilight Zone' music."
Hannity says, "Okay, here's my next question," and Barrett breaks in with a laugh and says "Okay, friend," and shrugs, looking quite pleased with himself, as if he believes he's getting the better of the exchange. As Hannity tries to ask the question, Barrett keeps interrupting, offering survey statistics that he seems to think show that people agree with him -- 60%! "You're in the minority," he tells Hannity. That is, we see Barrett garbling facts in real time, on camera.
Finally, Hannity gets Barrett to hear the question: Should extremists like you be allowed to teach? Barrett says: "No, you're the extremist. Fox News is the biggest bunch of extremists on the planet." He's got a huge laughing grin now. Hannity doesn't think Barrett should be teaching, and Barrett responds that he doesn't think Hannity should be on the air. "I think you guys should be taken off the airwaves, because you are the guys who are..." A desperate Colmes breaks in: "All right, we don't want to silence anybody...."
Colmes's attempt at the beginning to present Barrett in a good light by emphasizing that Barrett will bring debate and critical thinking to the classroom is all shot to hell. We've seen Barrett in action. Barrett retained his position here because we care about free speech values, but he slammed us in the face with his disrespect for free speech.