I missed this when it happened, but it didn’t take long to catch up to it on Twitter afterward. Bob Beckel got into an argument with former Tea Party activist Jennifer Stefano over the effectiveness of Head Start spending during a break on Sean Hannity’s Great American Panel and didn’t pay attention to the stage manager when the show went back on the air. That’s one reason — but only one reason — why Beckel offered a great American epithet as viewers returned (NSFW, obviously):
Beckel at first refused to apologize — in fact, he refused to acknowledge that the show had gone back on the air for about a full minute. After realization slowly dawned on Beckel, he finally offered a grudging apology, but then proceeded to blame Sean Hannity for not warning him that the show was coming back on the air. Hannity, incredulous, says that he figured that Beckel would have had a clue when the director began counting backwards from five.
After all, that’s the typical “head start” that most television performers understand.
I’ve been in broadcasting for over eight years, and Beckel has at least that much experience. Professionals don’t use that kind of language in the studio, and not just because one never really knows when the microphones are hot. Controlling one’s speech is a discipline, a habit, and so is the use of F-bombs and other profanity. Any bad habits one has will eventually come out on the air, and this is a prime example. Hannity graciously insisted he would defend Beckel if Fox tried to fire him, but anyone this unprofessional — and ungracious — really should be reconsidered for their future on-air assignments.
Jennifer Stefano rips Beckel toward the end of the clip for making the argument personal, so be sure to watch it all the way through, but that’s not the end of Beckel’s embarrassment. As Andrew Coulson reported over two years ago, even Barack Obama’s HHS agrees with Stefano that Head Start doesn’t work (via Derek Hunter):
What’s so damning is that this study used the best possible method to review the program: It looked at a nationally representative sample of 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either the Head Start (“treatment”) group or to the non-Head Start (“control”) group.
Random assignment is the “gold standard” of medical and social-science research: It gives investigators confidence that the treatment and control groups are essentially identical in every respect except their access to Head Start. So if eventual test performances differ, we can be pretty sure that the difference was caused by the program. No previous study of Head Start used this approach on a nationally representative sample of children.
When the researchers gave both groups of students 44 different academic tests at the end of the first grade, only two seemed to show even marginally significant advantages for the Head Start group. And even those apparent advantages vanished after standard statistical controls were applied.
In fact, not a single one of the 114 tests administered to first graders — of academics, socio-emotional development, health care/health status and parenting practice — showed a reliable, statistically significant effect from participating in Head Start.
Some advocates of the program have acknowledged these dramatic results, but suggest that it’s not necessarily Head Start’s fault if its effects vanish during kindergarten and the first grade — perhaps our K-12 schools are to blame.
But that’s beside the point. Even if it’s true, it means that Head Start will be of no lasting value to children until we fix our elementary and secondary schools. Until then, money spent on Head Start will continue to be wasted.
Why did Beckel get personal, instead of sticking to facts and figures as Stefano advised? Because he would lose on facts and figures. All Beckel has is bluster and profanity.