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Laura Ingraham doesn’t really want to debate David Hogg

Fox News host Tucker Carlson lost yet another advertiser after suggesting that immigrants make the U.S. “dirtier” on Dec. 13. (Video: Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

Two reasons could explain Laura Ingraham's decision to mock Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg for his college rejections. One is schadenfreude, but it is seems overly cynical to think that the Fox News host takes pleasure in watching more bad things happen to a teenager who lost 14 schoolmates and three educators last month.

The other, more plausible reason is that Ingraham wants to remove Hogg from a national conversation about gun control. Rather than debate him, she would prefer to disqualify him.

Facing boycott, Laura Ingraham apologizes for taunting Parkland teen over college rejections

On her show last week, Ingraham described Hogg's commentary as a “tantrum” — a jab at his youth — while complaining that in “the mainstream media, it's practically a coronation of the new leftist heroes, the kids who have become the public face of the movement.”

On Monday, Ingraham played part of Hogg's remarks at Saturday's March for Our Lives in Washington, in which he said, “To those politicians supported by the NRA that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say, 'Get your résumés ready.' ”

“Who wrote that line?” Ingraham asked, suggesting that Hogg could not have composed such a clever quip.

Ingraham's steady implication has been that Hogg is not as impressive as he has been portrayed elsewhere by the media. Her tweet Wednesday that taunted Hogg for failing to get into four colleges (he was accepted by three others) was one more way for Ingraham to signal that Hogg is overrated and unqualified to opine about public policy.

Ingraham's effort to marginalize Hogg does not mean that she is afraid to debate him. Ingraham is a lawyer, and even the best lawyers — no matter how strong their arguments — would rather see cases dismissed because opponents lack standing than try to win on the merits.

Then again, we are talking about cable news, not a courtroom. Yet Ingraham — author of a book called “Shut Up and Sing” — often attacks opponents' standing instead of their substance.

When NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant suggested last month that President Trump is racist, Ingraham did not make the case that the label is unfair; she told the players to “shut up and dribble.”

“Keep the political commentary to yourself,” she added, while calling their comments “barely intelligible” and “ungrammatical.”

A day later, responding to criticism of her comments by the players and others, Ingraham said that “if you want to be a political pundit, you're coming on my court. Let's do it. Let's have a real conversation about black unemployment. Let's talk about violence in the inner city. Let's talk about all the issues like school choice. Let's do it. Don't think you're not going to get criticized if all you do is a drive-by hit on Trump and say he's no leader.”

Suddenly Ingraham was game to debate. But her first move had been to assert that James and Durant should not participate in political debates.

Ingraham has taken the same approach to late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel, a critic of Republican health-care policies.

“Leave it to the pros, Jimmy,” she said in December.

After this month's Academy Awards ceremony, which included political commentary by actors, Ingraham asked her viewers, “Do we watch films and Oscars for them to opine on politics?”

“I think when these actors and celebrities just marinate themselves in politics, you can watch us or other networks for that,” she said.

On Thursday, Ingraham apologized to Hogg for “any upset or hurt my tweet caused” and noted that Hogg has appeared on her show before. The interview occurred on the day of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and focused on basic facts about the event; there was no back-and-forth on gun policy.

Ingraham said that Hogg is “welcome to return to the show anytime for a productive discussion” — an invitation extended only after she cast him as an unworthy adversary. Late Friday on “The Ingraham Angle,” the host announced that she would be taking the next week off “for Easter break with my kids” and that guest hosts would fill in for her.