Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Ed Gillespie joined Sean Hannity in issuing false attacks against financier, philanthropist, and political activist George Soros on the June 2 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes. In addition to grossly overstating the amount of money Soros has contributed to MoveOn.org, Gillespie affirmed Hannity's false claim that MoveOn.org "ran ads that liken the president to Adolph Hitler."
Before Hannity and Gillespie commenced their attacks on Soros, co-host Alan Colmes confronted Gillespie over a new RNC strategy, as reported in the June 2 issue of Roll Call (subscription only), of discrediting Senator John Kerry by attacking his prominent supporters, including Soros. Colmes said to Gillespie, "[Y]ou are calling, what, Soros the Daddy Warbucks of the movement." Gillespie deflected the question, responding, "Well, actually somebody else called him that."
A November 20, 2003, RNC research briefing on Soros, titled "THE LORD OF THE DEMOCRATS? Out Of Touch, Left-Wing Radical Pushing Extremist Agenda On America," included the following charge: "Soros Is 'Daddy Warbucks' Of Drug Legalization." The briefing credited Joseph A. Califano Jr., former Carter administration health, education, and welfare secretary, with coining the label. As first reported by Roll Call -- and then by the New York Post in a June 3 article headlined, "GOP HAS SOROS IN ITS SIGHTS" -- the RNC is circulating among congressional Republicans the research briefing on Soros. According to an article in the New York Post, "The Republican lawmakers are encouraged to use 'floor speeches' and other opportunities to blast Soros, who has given millions of dollars to various groups to help defeat President Bush."
Later in the segment on the June 2 edition of Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: He's [Soros is] a billionaire who's pledged to -- if he has to spend every cent he has. He's aligned himself and is funding this group MoveOn.org, that even ran ads that liken the president to Adolph Hitler.
GILLESPIE: Adolph Hitler, yes.
In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, the nonpartisan Columbia Journalism Review's website The Campaign Desk reported a previous example of a Republican Party official -- convention communications director Mark Pfeifle on CNN's May 27 edition of American Morning -- making what Campaign Desk described as the "stunningly false" assertion that MoveOn.org ran ads comparing President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler.
As Campaign Desk reported, while "at least one [ad] was posted briefly on the organization's website" as a submission to a contest held by MoveOn.org, the website "quickly removed it and disassociated itself from the offending ads."
Hannity and Gillespie continued on the June 2 Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: I mean -- and this guy [Soros] can spend any amount of money because he's a, what, a 527, section 527...
GILLESPIE: He's putting money in a 527. We fought this, I'm like the old rock singer Bobby Fuller. I fought the law, and the law won.
We fought it in the Supreme Court. We fought it in the Federal Election Commission. They say that it's legal.
And now you see conservative-minded groups starting to do the same thing, but nobody is going to put $15 million in the way he's put it into MoveOn.org.
However, as the Center for Public Integrity has documented, Soros has given $2.6 million -- not $15 million -- to MoveOn.org