Two Lawyers and a Microphone: Why I listen to the Caplis & Silverman show
by Kevin Loughrey
President of Thompson Creek Metals Company
Old Joke: "Last night I was trapped in the elevator … and with a lawyer. What could be worse?"
Radio station 630 KHOW has turned this old gag line on its head, creating a successful drive-time radio talk show. Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman, capitalizing on the sudden boom of interest in all things legal, host the 3–7 p.m. program that focuses on matters legal and non.
Dan Caplis is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer; best known before this show for his early foray into reality television with his on-air proposal to former Denver news anchor Aimee Sporer. A part-time Saturday morning talk show host for several years, Caplis provides the polish and radio voice for the duo. Craig Silverman is a former Chief Deputy DA-turned trial attorney and talk show host. He lacks the mellifluous tones of his partner, but displays a quiet sense of humor and respectful form of disagreement that lift the show above the level of most current punditry.
The show starts with a "Crossfire" or "Hannity and Colmes"-like format, pitting a conservative (Caplis) against a liberal (Silverman). It is both a weakness and strength of the show that neither man is typical of the ideological representatives we have come to expect from such formats. Caplis is something of a neophyte to his conservative affiliation. Long an ardent supporter of the right-to-life movement, Caplis has, in the past, expressed points of view that could not be described as right-of-center. Silverman is more of a prototypical liberal, albeit one who is equally committed to logical analysis of each issue. This moderation by the hosts is, in equal parts, redeeming and maddening. At times, it allows for a thoughtful and reasoned discussion, distinct from the screech-fests such programs can become. However, for those who believe the mushy middle is not the sine qua non of every issue, it can be maddening to hear the hosts eschew solid arguments in favor of appearing moderate.
The show came to prominence at the time of, and in large measure because of, the Ward Churchill affair. To his credit, Craig Silverman put aside partisan considerations and excoriated Colorado University’s disgraced professor. Their show thoroughly analyzed the numerous issues the Churchill case raised, and in doing so, surpassed all other non-print coverage. As one would hope, the two lawyers looked at the case in a lawyerly light, examining issues beyond what is standard in this age of sound-bite media. While some may disagree with the hosts’ conclusions, their show is a great example of what lawyers and this type of program can accomplish.
In the end, of course, Marshall McCluhan was correct: "The medium is the message." Consequently, if you listen long enough, you discern their style and decide that you like it or you don’t. In any event, their method is part of the whole package. It goes something like this:
Good afternoon. It’s another beautiful day to be alive in Colorado. If I can’t be at home with my beautiful wife and family or out on the golf course, there is nowhere I’d rather be than here with my brother from another mother, the inestimable, Craig Silverman.
SILVERMAN: Thanks Dan, I’m glad to be here too. We’ve got a good show today, starting with an interview with a man who has the courage to tell it like it is, Democratic Committee Chairman Howard Dean.
C: Well, Craig, before we get to the interview — and more importantly, before we get to our great callers — I’d like to respond to that. I am surprised by what you say because you are so smart and so correct on so many issues, it is odd to hear you make such an obvious and I think demonstrably erroneous statement. Certainly Mr. Dean is a loose cannon who richly deserved the ignominious end to which he came in the last campaign.
S: Well, we will see, Dan. I can certainly hold up Howard Dean against the likes of the disgraced former Republican House leader, Tom Delay. Do you think he is a nice man?
C: As a matter of fact I do, but that’s not the point, big man. Howard Dean throws around allegations as loosely as all of those people who tried to smear Gary Barnett last year.
S: Well, Dan, I think it is the point, and I think many of our fine listeners now wish they could rethink their position on Howard Dean after five years of George W. Bush.
And on it goes.
Okay, so not every minute of the show is inspiring. However, listen to Caplis and Silverman and I think you will find their lawyerly perspective refreshing and appealing to lawyers and non-lawyers alike.
Kevin Loughrey is president of Thompson Creek Metals Company. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.