You win, Jay Severin

I had him right where I wanted him. And I let the little bugger get away again.

Jay Severin was at the Hard Rock Cafe on Thursday in Boston. I went down there, thinking that I might be able to accomplish in person what I’ve been unable to do by phone; that is, to expose Jay as a liar, hypocrite, and fool. He gave me plenty of ammo so I loaded up, took aim, fired … and missed. Here’s how it went down.

I arrived shortly after 2:30 pm to find Jay holding court in front of 12-15 listeners (a considerable minority of the restaurant patrons). I had listened to earlier portions of the day’s broadcast and I listened for a while at the restaurant before getting up to speak. My plan was to take Jay to task, not for past misdeeds but for what he’d said that very day. He gave me a few things to work with:

  • He implied, simultaneously and without the least hint of irony, that (a) Barack Obama could have prevented the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico with earlier intervention – an act or omission for which Jay thinks Obama should be impeached; and (b) there was no real environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico – the amount of oil spilled from Deepwater Horizon spills into the Gulf every year, and all the oil from the beaches is gone.
  • In the space of an hour, he went from the responsible position of saying that he heard someone claim that Obama could have stopped the leak quickly to the irresponsible position of saying “we know now” that this happened.
  • A caller suggested that the solution to the illegal immigration problem would be for law enforcement to watch people from a distance as they crossed the border and then, once they’d gone a quarter-mile into US territory, to slaughter them with a variety of firearms. Jay’s response: no comment.
  • He implied that Republicans were perfectly reasonable in refusing to extend unemployment benefits if doing so would add to the deficit, because those benefits could have been paid for by cutting, by a small fraction, the amount of money spent on needle exchange programs.
  • He proclaimed, citing no evidence whatsoever, that punishing crack cocaine possession more harshly than powdered cocaine possession is justified because crack users harm other people whereas cocaine users harm only themselves.
  • He cited Barack Obama’s mention of the new legislation regarding cocaine possession in a speech to the Urban League as evidence of Obama being “racialist.” (Obama included one sentence about the drug law in a 45-minute speech.)

I was planning to call him out on any or all of these as evidence of my broader point about how he misleads his audience. I decided to frame it using another point from earlier in the show. Jay had opened with a bit about Shirley Sherrod’s decision to sue Andrew Breitbart. Jay assumed that the suit would be based on a claim of libel or defamation and he predicted that it would be impossible for her to win because, as he’s repeated ad nauseum on his show, “truth is an absolute defense.” A caller soon informed Jay that Sherrod might indeed have a case under the legal theory of “false light.” I thought that false light was a good metaphor for Jay’s entire program.

So a little before 3:40 pm, I went to the mic – the first of his live audience members to do so. It started out OK but I was done before I realized it. (The audio is terrible, I’m afraid. I recorded it on a mobile phone stuffed in my shirt pocket. I’ve done my best with the transcription, but there are probably some mistakes.)

With those simple words, “I don’t remember our conversations,” Jay threw me off my game. I reminded him about our last conversation, and suddenly the discussion was no longer about him, but about me and about the logistics of his show.

Ugh. I let him characterize a simple statement of my objective – to challenge him to a fair fight – as “histrionics.” I had let myself get moved from accuser to accused. I made a decent attempt to regroup, but once again he deflected my attack.

You see what he did there? He turned my attack against him into a perceived attack against his audience. This threw me off message again, and I started talking about his audience. Also, and I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but at that moment my mic cut out for a split second causing me to ask if I was still on. Jay seized on that as well.

The game was lost at that point. He started talking over me, and then came the inevitable insults and disconnection.

Those insults were shockingly familiar, weren’t they? Twenty-nine months later, and he’s still using the same material. What’s astonishing is how Jay manages to keep his head from exploding with all the cognitive dissonance that must be going on inside. The only insulting, spiteful, hateful, personal comments were the ones he directed at me, and yet he accuses me of directing them toward the audience. And the audience cheers.

One saving grace from the day. As I left the restaurant, an employee of the Hard Rock Cafe opened the door for me. He smiled at me, and shook my hand. In a way, that made the whole experience worth it.

And with that, I’m done. I gave it my best shot, but my best wasn’t good enough. Jay Severin is a coward, a liar, and an idiot, but he plays good defense. I’m never going to be able to get my point through to his audience. So I have no more need to listen or call in to his show. I’ll keep this blog open, in case anyone’s interested in the history, and I renew my invitation for other correspondents to chip in with their own bylines.

Ultimately, I really don’t care about Jay Severin. He’s one guy with no real power to do anything. What I worry about is Jay’s audience. It may be that what Jay suggested is true: either they are too dumb to know what I know, or they like lies. If either of those is true, it’s really not good for our society.

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  1. Greg C
    Posted July 31, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    David, I of course applaud your efforts, but I am not too surprised at the results, because there is no way Jay would let someone who disagrees (or actually has the correct information instead of blatant lies) with him speak. I stumbled upon Jay’s show and WTKK a couple of years ago, and continued to listen for entertainment value, but, like your situation, I am finding the “arguments” Jay poses too boring, repetitive, and just plain ridiculous to listen that much anymore- he simply repeats whatever Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, or any other high profile right-wing fringe lunatic says. I think a key point of your story is the fact that there were a whopping 12-15 in the Hard Rock audience. That tells me that his influence is not that far reaching- I mean, that’s why his show is only on one station and not nationwide. It reminds me of when Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express came to Boston and Michael Graham was scheduled to speak. When he was introduced to the audience, most people there had this puzzled look and were mouthing “who’s Michael Graham?” (with about 20 people who actually recognized him). It’s tough and it sucks, but the reality is that you cannot have a true conversation with someone who is not going to listen. I certainly have appreciated reading your posts and comments.

  2. Christopher Padgett
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    While I find that aging queen Jay Severin as detestable as you do, recording people on the sly is illegal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You must get permission from all parties involved in order to record them. You may want to pull some of the audio just to C.Y.O.A. here…

  3. DavidFromBrighton
    Posted August 2, 2010 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I’ve C’d my A, as you suggested. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. mark f
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I called Jay once. I was on hold for 45 minutes before I gave up. Part of this has to do with formatting, I know; Jay’s the star and gets the airtime, they pack in a lot of commercials (A LOT of commericals; there’s a David Foster Wallace essay about a Severin-like figure and a portion of it is about how shocked the producer and host were with the amount of advertising the audience was willing to endure. It seemed every time they pushed up the ad minutes they expected push back and got none of it), etc.

    But I also have to believe that another reason for the long hold times is to throw challengers off their game. Many simply won’t be so interested to wait and will simply hang up. If you actually do get on the air, the segment that prompted your call is long gone. Most of the audience won’t even remember it, if they even heard it at all (most radio audiences only listen at specific times in the car or whatever). If you say, “I’d like to challenge you on what you said earlier, ‘X,'” he can simply say, “I never said ‘X.'” Jay is very good at this; he’ll say something like, “What I said was,” and go on a 2 minute monologue that will either make his position seem much more reasonable (he can always return to more heated rhetoric when he’s not being challenged), or will get him to a scheduled break and end your call. Or both.

    It’s a no-win battle, I’m afraid.

  5. Joe
    Posted August 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    While I admittedly enjoy Jay’s show, I was excited when you started to talk. For a long time listener, like myself, I enjoy the show the most when callers disagree. I was truly amazed that Jay gave you as much time as he did but you wasted a great opportunity by selfishly calling him names. You should have gone there prepared to argue a point with facts, in you had them. No one will respond well to name calling, which is why he did the same to you. I bummed at your lost opportunity.

  6. DavidFromBrighton
    Posted August 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Joe, you are proving my point about his audience. I did not call him names. He called me names. What I did is accuse him of lying and exaggerating, and I was prepared to give evidence to that effect had I gotten the chance. I didn’t even say “you’re a liar,” which could be construed as name-calling; I said “you lie.” Listen to the recordings again and tell me exactly what I said that provoked him to do “the same” to me.

  7. chris
    Posted September 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I was there that day, you can actually hear my clapping when Jay threw that verbal smack down on you. It was pretty funny.

    Why did you break the video up instead of posting the whole thing straight through? I seem to remember there being a little more time to that dialog.

    You called him a liar, or should I say you “said he lies” which constitutes the same thing, said he shades the truth, but never gave him any examples.

    I will say I was surprised, and disappointed, you didn’t take the opportunity he gave you to actually cite something, especially considering the level of obsession you have with the man, dedicating a small blog to him. ( it is kind of creepy)

    I had some initial respect for you confronting him in person, but after you failed to provide an actual argument, and then insulted those of us who were there ( the 12-15 losers) I enjoyed watching you leave, tail tucked between your legs. Thanks for the good show!

  8. c
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    So, my comment never made it up… strange…. lag time on “moderation” or you didn’t want to hear it?

  9. LaLuna
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Happy to find this blog. As a regular / former listener to WTKK, I’ve come to find Jay’s position is trivial and repetitive on most issues, as some have before me. He manipulates information and opinion to scurry up some self-serving attention, and coasts on his vocal delivery and affected, attempted, softened pronunciation of the letter “a”.
    I’ve been onto his game, and I’m disgusted with the comments made above to the blogger by Severin.
    I now switch over the NPR during the endless assault of advertising on TKK, or to soothing music, but still catch Severin’s sexist comments (noted: women’s sports) and other rants and expounded trivia.
    GREAT JOB, DavidFromBrighton!!
    Further, the man, unfortunately, doesn’t have a following as evidenced by the poor showing at ‘live’ broadcasts.

  10. Libertarian
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Just stumbled on this blog. I listen to Jay when I get a chance. I have to say that I don’t always agree with him, but he has toned down a lot;well not that he has changed but his racial comments have gone down. Maybe to save his lucrative contract with WTKK he decided to start liking mexicans again on air only.

    Talk about microphone narcicism. This guy loves to hear himself talk. If you listened to him, you’d think he is th greatest mind out there; a bit like Rush L. But he will use big words to confuse someone only is they are challenging him. He doesnt promote a debate but rather my way or F You a.hole, low life scum. On WTKK MCPhee was the same, Graham same thing. Disagree with them and you shall b called stupid and all kind of names.

    The thing with Jay’s fan is that they follow him blindly and never question him. That says it all about his fan base. There is a crowd out there for what he preaches.

    The guy is not stupid, he is actually a smart guy but he has a delusion of self grandeur just like every single talk show host.

    He is definitely NOT a libertarian. He is a right wing hard core card member. Look at all the candidate he supported over the years. GW twice, ROmney, Scott Brown and all right wing congrassman. He doesnt have one good thing to say about anything from the left. He talks over you, insults you but who can really take him serious?

    To his defense, he is a lying sack O sh*t

  11. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Sad to see you’ve decided to retire this blog, as I just today stumbled across it while researching the voice I absent-mindedly tune in to on my infrequent afternoon car trips. Seems to me you have some good points about Severin, and I wish you’d continue!

  12. Josh
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    He may have won that battle, but I believe the war has gone in a much different direction. Good riddance to him.

  13. Jay Walking
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Where is Jay now??? 😀

  14. Elaine
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Just came across your blog after hearing this SCUM on Serius-The Blaze this afternoon & yesterday. Unfortunately, it’s what plays at many medical facilities in this area.
    Although I consider myself Independant, I’ve been called “Libtard” by conservatives, and “wacky right-wing nut” by liberals. I had to take down a blog that was critical of Glenn Beck because of death threats. I’ve been on the Internet since “Archie” and “Jughead”, (etc.), but NEVER expected to get death threats-especially from people that were telling me I’m the “wrong kind” of Christian in one sentence, and telling me to “go hang yourself” in the next.
    I thought at first that these MUST be “kids” trying to “play” enraged grown-up. Nope. I had one actually track me down, (partially due to my own stupidity of not covering my tracks back then), and he was caught spray-painting my front door. The police said he was 42. I ran into another one at a local store when someone used my name-this is a VERY small town with a VERY tight-knit “Beckite” community. These crazies worship the ground Beck walks on, thinks he’s a “Prophet”, and, of course, support ANYONE that Beck supports. Including the subject of this blog.
    Back to the reason for writing this. I’ve only caught this guy on air 4-5 times, but I’ve NEVER heard ANYONE so in love with himself-and so damned convinced of the outrageous lies, misinformation and exaggeratedly hyper-partisan, (to use two of his overly used words): so pretentiously pejorative, and obstinate of his ignorance.
    Sorry, just HAD to try & do that..
    Yesterday, he spent all of the show completely misquoting and miss characterizing the “breaking news” that N Korea is wowing its mid-range missiles to THEIR East coast, and that they are incapable of carrying nuclear payloads–he turned into–> North Korea has their long range nuclear missiles aimed towards BOSTON and “MY CHILDREN”, screaming that Obama is worthless, (among other things), and basically, he, (and his audience), was going to wake up this AM to a nuclear wasteland…
    It was unbelievable-even the nurses & patients in dialysis thought they’d missed something because “Glenn wouldn’t allow Jay to lie to us like that”. Everyone was leaving at 3:30 to get to the stores & stock up on water, etc.
    Today, he had some Retired General on, talking about how Hagel is a dumb-ass because he said “Real clear danger to the US” yesterday, and how crazy that was to get everyone upset at something that Korea doesn’t have the capabilities to do.
    Oh, he also said “we’ll, we’ve got to hope nothing happens to North Korea, it would be a shame if anything happened to the flow of women out of there, hahaha, child bride lets me get away with so much, she’s wonderful!”
    Is this dirtbag talking about the N Korea Slave trade??!!
    Considering he’s calling the wacky kid leader “Cum of Sum Young” or “Young Mons Cum”…
    This jerk is disgusting-and now with an International audience, joins the rest of the misinformation squad on the blaze. I’m actually surprised that Beck is allowing this “Telephony intercourse”, (who the hell does this guy think he is??), continue..

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