Round One to the Host

When conservative radio talk-show host Jon Matthews recently punched the button for the next call, he had no idea he'd be getting the editor of the Conservanazi Watch, the Seabrook-based newsletter that promotes itself as "dedicated to presenting a hard-hitting liberal point of view."

The newsletter's editor, who goes by the pseudonym Rack Jite, was briefly profiled in the October 14 issue of the Press. Jite and his newsletter have no use for conservatives, and absolutely no use for Rush Limbaugh or any local versions thereof.

Jite's call to Matthews started off friendly enough, as Jite talked about getting out of the army in '69 and joining protests at the University of Wisconsin. Then Jite insulted Ronald Reagan by saying that Reagan had more water between his ears than brain cells, an oblique reference to his post-presidential surgery.

Things got testy after that. Jite was trying to point out that during the Vietnam War, conservatives would tell protestors, "Love it or leave it." Jite wondered why conservatives today, who seemingly profess such a hatred for their government, don't just leave.

Matthews would have none of that kind of talk. After a brief, snitty exchange, the conversation ended. Matthews fired off: "You have staged an intellectually bankrupt argument."

Later, the host figured out who had called. "A couple of days later he mailed me a copy of his publication and I saw that name in there and then it snapped," he said. "I'm going to write him back and thank him for sending me that thing and tell him, "Call me again any time, because you're easy."

"He went about his point in a pretty weak way. He didn't have anything backing him up. He had no argument." Matthews said he was familiar with Jite from reading the Press article.

Jite admits some tactical errors -- he was nervous waiting to go on. Once he was on, he said, his main mistakes were the ad hominem Reagan comment and making an issue of the "right-wing mentality of the talk-show host." His strategy for next time? "The point is to play moderate, get the host to accept you and then hit them hard."

Matthews said he hopes Jite calls back. The host, of course, wields the ultimate weapon: the last word. He can hang up on the caller and say whatever he darn well pleases. And, as Matthews admits, that's exactly what he did: "That's why they call it the Jon Matthews Show.


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