You may not know the name Thom Hartmann, but the left-wing talker is the number one liberal radio host in the country and the eighth most important American radio host overall, according to Talkers magazine.
His influence on the left is already large and growing. Last year Hartmann launched a weeknight television program, “The Big Picture,” which is available in more than 40 million households on RT and Free Speech TV.
But unlike many liberal pundits — see “Olbermann, Keith” — Hartmann relishes engaging conservatives in debate.
“I think it is important that we learn how we talk to each other and this isn’t that kind of post-partisan, namby-pamby that I am seeing coming out of the White House,” Hartmann explained during an extensive interview with The Daily Caller in RT’s Washington, D.C. studio. “I think it is important that we actually learn how to talk to each other, disagree, and still be friends at the end of the day.”
Hartmann, a self-described “democratic socialist” who says he believes in American exceptionalism, is passionate about his politics. He is also occasionally prone to latching on to conspiracy theories. For instance, during his interview with TheDC, he suggested that President Bush and the Republican Party supported the Medicare prescription drug program in an effort to destroy Medicare.
“I think that Medicare Part D was a poison pill,” he said. “The reason that Bush and the Republicans pushed so hard for Medicare Part D is because they thought it would kill Medicare … That’s my personal conspiracy theory.”
Below, Hartmann discusses his upbringing, his political philosophy, his stances on some of the most pressing issues of the day and his relationship with RT, a television network funded by the Russian government.
Watch: Hartmann discusses his background and intellectual influences
On his political philosophy: “I am not afraid to use the language of European democracies. I would consider myself a democratic socialist.”
Watch: Hartmann on the debt ceiling deal, American exceptionalism and whether he thinks George W. Bush is evil
On whether he would support a primary challenge to President Obama: “I am really ambivalent about it. I don’t think he can be successfully primary challenged so it is almost a moot point. I don’t think there is anybody — a national figure of national stature, a Teddy Kennedy — who could or would rise up and take him on.”
Watch: Hartmann on Russian politics and his relationship with the Russian-funded TV network RT
On his role at RT: “I have no role in the network. I own my show … RT has no editorial control over my show.”
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