Laura Ingraham '85, a conservative political analyst and host of the country's sixth-most popular radio show, brought Student Body President Noah Riner '06, Dartmouth Review editors Michael Ellis '06 and Scott Glabe '06 onto her nationally-syndicated radio talk show Friday to discuss the controversy surrounding Riner's now-infamous convocation speech.
Ingraham, who served as editor-in-chief of the Review from 1984 to 1985, invited the three seniors to discuss the speech during a segment entitled "Dartmouth Student Body President Gets in Trouble for Mentioning Jesus in a Speech."
Ingraham asked Riner, Ellis and Glabe about the current political and academic climate at the College and the speech's reverberations throughout the Dartmouth community. Their appearance on Ingraham's show is the latest and arguably most prominent media coverage of what has now become a national debate.
An editorial assistant for The Laura Ingraham Show contacted Riner and Ellis late Wednesday night about appearing on the Friday broadcast. Both Riner and Ellis had previous plans to be in Washington, D.C., the show's broadcasting headquarters, and readily agreed.
"I knew who she was, but honestly, I'd never heard her show before," Riner said. "I though it was pretty amazing that they were interested."
Ingraham's broadcast comes on the heels of several prominent editorials and articles on the speech and its aftermath, including opinion pieces written in The Washington Times, The Boston Globe and the National Review. Countless weblogs and online publications on both ends of the political spectrum have also run pieces about Riner's speech.
The intense scrutiny surprised Riner.
"I have been really shocked by everything," Riner said. "I had no idea that a Convocation speech would be so controversial or that anyone would care. I thought that most people sleep through Convocation speeches, but I'm glad they didn't sleep through mine. It's provoked a lot of interesting discussion, and I've learned a lot."
Ingraham's interview focused on the College administration's response to the outcry over Riner's mention of Jesus during the speech. Although some of her questions opened opportunities to criticize the school or its response, Riner, Ellis and Glabe never condemned the College.
"I wasn't sure what to expect, because I know the stereotype of talk show hosts are that they're very extreme," Riner said. "I went into it thinking that I would probably have to calm her down. She wanted to talk about the administration and what they had done, and I told her that they hadn't said anything or done anything, that they had been great. She may have been disappointed."
Ingraham's show is broadcast nationally on 290 radio stations and globally on XM satellite radio
Though Dartmouth is Ingraham's alma mater, Ellis is not at all taken aback by the attention the issue has garnered from the national media.
"I think that because it's Dartmouth, because it's a school of prominence and a school that's plugged into the national scene, it gets national attention," Ellis said. "I doubt that if this speech had been given at the University of Southern New Hampshire it would have gotten this much press."
Despite all of that attention and some intense criticism from students and others, Riner says he will continue to speak to whomever is interested.
"In the days following my speech, I committed to talking to everyone who wanted to talk to me, whether they agreed or disagreed with me," he said. "I'm glad that people are speaking their minds and expressing themselves."