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Friday, January 26, 2007

Hannity & Colmes - Fake News or Fraud Journalism?

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Fake news is all the rage these days. Ratings are soaring for shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report, while many of the more traditional news outlets struggle to attract or sustain a younger demographic, sought after by advertisers.

Perhaps this helps explain what Sean Hannity was thinking about during a recent taping for a segment of his farcical news program, Hannity & Colmes, in which the two fake journalists ponder the patriotism of a city councilman who refuses to recite the pledge of allegiance.

Alan Colmes plays the role of straight man, a variation of the ‘good cop - bad cop’ routine, setting the scene for some rather vicious but laughably inaccurate statements from his co-host, who botched the details so bad it was impossible to take him seriously. I can’t imagine he was actually trying to produce an accurate piece of journalism. His sloppy, poorly researched presentation was indeed a joke.

Or was it?

What a truly frightening question. What if Sean Hannity wasn’t joking at all? What if this shoddy excuse for journalism is in fact, wholly representative of who and what Mr. Hannity is really about? Either Mr. Hannity is curiously inept or he his guilty of willfully distorting the facts. Personally, I suspect both. I’m sure this stuff is available all over the internet by now, but what the hey. Here is some of the transcript from the segment, titled: No Pledge Until Troops Withdrawn From Iraq. The errors will be in RED, followed by the real deal, (the truth) in Green Italics. I will only be including the relevant parts, as I want to be mindful of copyright protections.

Alan Colmes, CO-HOST:"A Mesa County (there is no 'Mesa County, Arizona'. Mesa is a city in Maricopa County),Arizona", city councilman is causing quite a controversy in this"town"(remember, it's a city, he just called him a city councilman). In a meeting earlier this week, Councilman Tom Rawles not only refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance; he didn't even stand up for it. Rawles' actions were in protest of the war in Iraq, saying he will not say the Pledge of Allegiance again until all U.S. troops are withdrawn from Iraq.

Joining us now,"Mesa County"("again?") councilman Tom Rawles. Counselor, thanks for being with us. I know you're getting a lot of heat. And I will get a lot of heat, probably, for defending you. But our Constitution gives us the right not to exercise speech. That's part of what was decided in 1943 in a case concerning the Pledge of Allegiance.

TOM RAWLES, COUNCILMAN,"MESA COUNTY", ("again?") ARIZONA: Well, I think it's fundamental to the United States that we have the right to say the pledge or not say the pledge. The question becomes whether we're more interested in protecting the symbols of freedom in this country or the freedoms themselves, and I feel very confident that what I did is designed to stimulate some debate. And there has been some political heat and some personal heat, but it was well worth the price.

HANNITY: Hi, Sean Hannity here. RAWLES: Hi, Sean. HANNITY: You say you're trying to stimulate debate. That's all we've done since the war started. We've debated."You liberals"("Rawles is not a liberal") don't like the fact that "you're not in power. You" ("?") insult the president. You call him a liar every day ("?"). You change your position every day. You have no plan on how to solve the problem in Iraq. You don't understand the importance of it. ("This entire rant is based on a false assumption. None of it applies to Rawles, who has long been a Republican. This is terrible journalism. It’s pathetic")! "This isn't about stimulating debate. This is about, you know, making yourself look good. There's no extra debate that's happened. We've been debating and debating and debating. This isn't about — you're not going to stimulate more debate here." ("aren‘t they debating it during this interview?")

RAWLES: This has brought the issue home, which is where it needs to be brought. It needs to be brought to the local level. It needs to be brought to every level.

HANNITY:"It's brought to the local level. ("again, I live in Phoenix, and I learned of the story on H&C") "Everybody in America has been debating it, sir. Where have you been?" ("Dude, make up your mind, which is it")

RAWLES: You think you've been debating it, but the people at home are still sitting on their couches watching television and not getting involved. I'm trying to do something, and I've had e-mail responses from across the country that told me, "I appreciate what you've done, because it's given me the courage to stand up where I live." And by the way I'm not a liberal. I've been a Republican for 45 years.

HANNITY: "OK. Whatever. That's not the point. I think — you know what I think? I think it has no connection whatsoever." ("Hannity back-peddles, goes rambling down side-road")
And here's my position. So many people have already died. So many people have already shed their blood. This is the greatest country God gave man. You have a right to say anything you want, but it's insulting not to stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't like that they spend too much money in Washington. I don't like that they won't control our borders. I don't like the growth in influence of government. I don't like liberals like Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Harry Reid insulting our president every day. But I still stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance. And in that sense, I think you've made a fundamental mistake.

RAWLES: Well, I respect you for your decision, and I think that when people's conscience dictates to them differently, they have the right to do what I did. And I am standing by that decision. I think it was a fair decision. I think it was an effective decision. And I believe it has, in fact, caused more people to think about this war and, fundamentally, what our rights are in this country. You know, the issue...

HANNITY: "Everybody knows what our rights are. Everybody knows." ("Obviously baseless platitude, with no foundation in reality"). RAWLES: No, they don't.

HANNITY: You have a sense of self-importance. Look, I can drink this glass of water and say I'm drinking this glass of water in protest of whatever. It's meaningless in as much as I think you have a duty as a public official, and you have every right to speak out, every right to support Alan. "All your leaders in the Democratic Party ("again, Hannity is clearly attempting to distort the truth, still painting Rawles as a democrat") are out there insulting our president every day. I don't take issue with that". That's one of the freedoms our troops fight for here. But you, as a public figure, as a councilman, you have to be a role model. And what you're saying to kids in this country is if you have any slight, minor disagreement, Dad, don't stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance. "The point is that, in spite of our disagreements, while we're debating those issues", ("as you may recall, he just stated we weren’t") we all stand united. Because the terrorists, let me tell you something, Councilman, they don't care if they kill councilmen, they don't care if they kill Republicans, conservatives, liberals and Democrats. They want to kill us all. And this is a moment where you could show that it's about right and wrong in this country, not left versus right.

RAWLES: It's not about left versus right, first of all. It's about whether you believe in freedom or not believe in freedom. You know, you keep calling me a liberal. I'm a classical liberal from the 17th and 18th and 19th Century. I've, you know, followed the teachings of Madison and Jefferson and Loche, not this left-right dichotomy that the American people have falsely chosen or are forced to decide between.

COLMES: All right, Councilman. Part of the rights we have are not to speak. You have the right to do what you're doing, and I think that's an important lesson.

HANNITY: It doesn't mean anything.

COLMES: Thank you very much for being with us.

Well, there it is. Count ‘em and do the math. These are the same guys who were still swearing US troops would find wmd in Iraq as recently as last spring. These guys are a laugh riot. C’mon folks, if this isn’t fake news, then what is?

B. Thomas Cooper

B. Thomas Cooper

blogment - National Newswire - The Infinite Echo


Anonymous said...

Excellent demonstration of the desperate measures the radical right is going to in order to justify their agenda. Well done, keep them coming.

misteraxe said...

Great post...I try to watch hannity and colmes, but have no greater disgust for any human being as I do the neaderthal Hannity. I always wait in anticipation of something....anything from Colmes that even resembles passion...nothing!!! He is a fake! Hannity is a self involved arrogant jerk who has risen to his level of incompentence via talking points disseminated by the GOP hate machine. So I watch til I feel my dinner trying to make an early exit and while wondering if my momentary foray into the evil that is fox news will somehow improve their ratings I lunge for the remote before I not only lose my hard earned dinner but have to suffer the guilt that I may in some way be responsible for their ability to remain on the air.