On the October 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, during a discussion of Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) purported failure to place his hand over his heart during the national anthem at an Iowa campaign event, co-host Alan Colmes said to Fox News contributor and nationally syndicated columnist Dick Morris, "Just as long as conservatives are going after Obama, let me put up on the screen another person during the national anthem." An on-screen image of President Bush appeared in which Bush's hand is resting on his midsection as the national anthem is reportedly being played. Later, co-host Sean Hannity said: "[F]irst of all, at least the president wasn't making a statement, and he did have his hand over his heart in the right place, Alan," adding: "That was a cheap shot. That was one little, you know, freeze-framed picture from one second." After Colmes said "Obama is a cheap shot," Hannity replied: "No. Obama -- but the difference here is Barack Obama made a statement about the Iraq war with the flag pin. And to not do it here, people are raising questions about why. Is this another statement?"
The Obama campaign has dismissed as "ridiculous" the suggestion that Obama was making a "statement," noting that "[s]ometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't" place his hand over his heart during the national anthem. Indeed, photos show him with his hand over his heart during the anthem.
As Media Matters for America documented, on his October 4 radio show, Hannity discussed an interview in which Obama said that he had stopped wearing an American flag pin on his lapel during the lead-up to the Iraq war: "[W]hy do we wear pins? Because our country was under attack. And to politicize once again the war to this extent. Well, who cares about the war? Are you proud of your country? Do you believe in America?" Media Matters noted that Hannity himself has not worn an American flag lapel pin on a number of recent occasions.
The image of President Bush shown during the program, also noted by the blog News Hounds:
During the October 23 show, Colmes asked Morris: "Can you believe [Obama] was -- is this unbelievable? Is this going to ruin his chances politically forever or what?" Morris responded: "If he'd covered his heart, he'd have covered himself," to which Colmes responded: "Oh, come on. That's very funny, but come on." Morris said: "I think it's ridiculous. It's a stupid controversy."
On October 23, two other programs -- Fox News' Fox & Friends and the CBS-syndicated newsmagazine Inside Edition -- also featured segments on Obama not covering his heart during the national anthem. As Media Matters documented, on the October 23 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy stated: "First he kicked his American flag pin to the curb. Now Barack Obama has a new round of patriotism problems." Doocy's assertion echoed a statement made by the conservative blog NewsBusters, which noted in an October 20 post that Time magazine had photographed Obama without his hand over his heart during the national anthem: "Turns out that not wearing a flag lapel pin isn't the only way Barack Obama chooses to show he's a different kind of Democrat." Inside Edition also featured a segment discussing Obama and the national anthem "controversy" on October 23. The segment included a statement from an Obama campaign spokesperson regarding Obama's purported failure to place his hand over his heart: "Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. In no way was he making any sort of statement, and any suggestion to the contrary is ridiculous." The segment also included two photographs of Obama placing his hand over his heart during other renditions of the national anthem, which Inside Edition said it received from the spokesperson:
From the October 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
COLMES: Illinois Senator Barack Obama finds himself at the center of yet another controversy, as conservatives continue their assault on his patriotism, if you can believe that. The Democratic presidential hopeful is captured on film at a steak fry sponsored by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. A closer look shows that Obama, unlike his Democratic colleagues, isn't putting his hand over his heart during the national anthem. Can you believe this? It's an outrage.
Joining us now with reaction is the author of, oh, Outrage -- wait a minute, what a coincidence. Former Clinton adviser -- I didn't even know that was coming -- Dick Morris. Can you believe he was -- is this unbelievable? Is this going to ruin his chances politically forever or what?
MORRIS: If he'd covered his heart, he'd have covered himself.
COLMES: Oh, come on. That's very funny, but come on.
MORRIS: I think that --
COLMES: That's very -- cute line.
MORRIS: I think it's ridiculous. It's a stupid controversy. But you know --
COLMES: Well, wait a minute.
MORRIS: What I think about Obama --
MORRIS: -- is that he's God's gift to Hillary. Because he's just strong enough to keep Gore out, just strong enough to make the race all about him. But he doesn't know how to use issues to win an election.
COLMES: All right, I've got an issue for you. Just as long as conservatives are going after Obama, let me put up on the screen another person doing the national anthem. I want to put his picture up on the screen. And let's -- oh, look. His hand -- he's got the wrong organ. It's supposed to go over your heart, and I think he's got his organs mixed up.
Is that unpatriotic, Dick, that his hand is not on his heart? Can you believe he became president? When he actually did the national anthem with his hand on his -- I don't even know what organ that is.
MORRIS: You know, in the past, I've accused you of using talking points, but this one I think you found on your own.
COLMES: Dick, thank you for retracting all the horrible things you've ever said about me.
HANNITY: Dick, let me go back to this issue. And first of all, at least the president wasn't making a statement, and he did have his hand over his heart in the right place, Alan.
COLMES: That wasn't his heart.
HANNITY: That was a cheap shot.
COLMES: That wasn't his heart.
HANNITY: That was one little, you know, freeze-framed --
COLMES: It's not his heart.
HANNITY: -- picture from one second.
COLMES: Obama's a cheap shot.
HANNITY: No. Obama -- but the difference here is Barack Obama made a statement about the Iraq war with the flag pin. And to not do it here, people are raising questions about why. Is this another statement?
MORRIS: Yeah. I doubt it. I doubt it. He was probably just dreaming of something off somewhere and didn't focus on the fact that there was a Pledge of Allegiance [sic] going on. You notice his back is to everybody.
HANNITY: Maybe he was contemplating invading Pakistan again, perhaps --
MORRIS: Yeah, something like that.
HANNITY: -- and his mind was --
MORRIS: But what is pathetic about Obama is he could win this election. He could defeat Hillary right now. All he has to do is get up there and say, "If you are elected president, you will keep the troops in Iraq. You told The New York Times that, and you would do that. I would pull them out. I am the peace candidate, you're the war candidate."
HANNITY: Well, it would help, certainly, with the anti-left [sic] and the MoveOn.org left.
MORRIS: And what else is there in the Democratic primary?
HANNITY: Well, right now, there's not. Let's talk about Hillary's chances. She says that right now she is -- quote, "My experience makes me uniquely equipped -- equips me to be president of the United States." As we --
MORRIS: I would say that, if she were on a reality show, the show would be Survivor because her experience is not at governing. You know, she was in the White House for eight years, but so was the pastry chef.
COLMES: Oh, come on.
MORRIS: And what does her knowledge of the White House mean? She knows where the light switches are?
MORRIS: This woman ran policy in the administration for two years, and it was all on health care. After that, she toured the world, wrote a best-selling book, and then orchestrated the scandal defense over [Monica] Lewinsky. That qualifies her to be president? What she means by experience is she's used to beating Republicans.
HANNITY: All right, Dick. Now, we're going to get back to "Mondays with Dick Morris," coming up next week. Dick Morris on Hannity & Colmes.
From the October 23 edition of the CBS-syndicated Inside Edition:
DEBORAH NORVILLE (host): Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama finds himself in a campaign controversy today. The Illinois senator is being taken to task for not placing his hand over his heart during the national anthem.
[begin video clip]
MALE REPORTER: Barack Obama is under fire because he's standing with his hands clasped during the national anthem. But Senator Hillary Clinton and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson both have their hands over their hearts. The new controversy comes just weeks after Obama came under fire from conservative bloggers for not wearing an American flag pin on his lapel.
BETH FRERKING (senior editor, the Politico): Those same bloggers are now saying this is just one more instance and one more example of him not being as patriotic, or at least appearing as patriotic, as they would like.
MALE REPORTER: The video is now sweeping the Internet, even though it happened in mid September at an Iowa campaign rally attended by every major Democratic presidential candidate. Everyone else on the stage has a hand over their heart, except Obama.
FRERKING: I don't think people arrest people for that, and if they did, I think we would be arresting hundreds of thousands of people at football games, baseball games, basketball games.
MALE REPORTER: These pictures of Obama with his hand over his heart were given to us by a campaign spokesperson who said, quote, "Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. In no way was he making any sort of statement, and any suggestion to the contrary is ridiculous."