Fox's Sean Hannity complained that Democrats are going "after a man with Parkinsons" in order to attack New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but in 2006 when Rush Limbaugh mocked actor Michael J. Fox for his Parkinson's disease and claimed he was faking the effects of the ailment, Hannity defended him.
An Esquire magazine blog post reported that the ongoing investigation into the closure of the George Washington Bridge under Christie could involve criminal charges against David Samson, who chaired the Port Authority's Board of Commissioners after being appointed by the Republican governor. The magazine speculates whether charges against Samson could provoke him to "flip" and provide testimony that would reflect negatively on Christie.
According to Esquire, Samson "reportedly suffers from Parkinson's disease."
Discussing the issue on his syndicated radio show today, Hannity complained that "the left" are "gonna go after a man with Parkinson's ... Unbelievable."
But in 2006, Hannity had no such qualms about attacking someone with Parkinson's disease.
Fellow conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh went after Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and endorsed Claire McCaskill (D) in a campaign ad when she was running for a Senate seat. Fox said he supported McCaskill due to her support for federal funding of stem cell research, which he believed could help find a cure for the disease.
Limbaugh accused Fox of "exaggerating the effects" of the disease in the ad, asserting that "either he didn't take his medication or he's acting." Limbaugh later claimed he "apologized" for the attack, then suggested that Fox had over-medicated himself "so you would really, really hate Republicans."
At the time in an appearance on Good Morning America, Hannity defended Limbaugh. Hannity said Fox "[Has] a right to speak up, but he also has a right to be criticized. He is a guy that is very political."
From the October 25, 2006 edition of ABC's Good Morning America (via Nexis):
DIANE SAWYER: But Rush Limbaugh, even in his apology, said that Mike Fox was allowing his illness to be exploited, shilling for a Democratic candidate. If you have Parkinson's disease and you believe embryonic stem cell research is the, is the answer, a possible answer, a possible cure, don't you have a right to speak up?
SEAN HANNITY: You have a right to speak up, but he also has a right to be criticized. He is a guy that is very political. He wants the defeat of these candidates. You know, there is some - little hypocrisy here. He is supporting a guy in Maryland, Ben Cardin, and Ben Cardin voted the opposite way of which he wanted.
Why is he isn't running ads against the Democrat? He supported John Kerry. He supported Chuck Schumer. He wants these guys defeated.
SAWYER: But the bottom line --
HANNITY: It doesn't, he's not immune from any criticism.
SAWYER: -- did Rush Limbaugh go too far for you?
HANNITY: Well - I think - my take on what Rush said is Rush was referring to Michael J. Fox, his own admission in his own book, where he said he stopped taking medication.
SAWYER: He didn't say that. He didn't talk about the congressional testimony (inaudible).
HANNITY: That's my understanding. Well - I, I'm - I didn't hear the comments. But my understanding is that Michael J. Fox had admitted that. But, you know something, Diane, everybody wants Michael J. Fox to get well. Every Republican I know, every Democrat. Everybody wants a cure for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson's.