Alan Colmes (co-host of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes) and Ellen Ratner (a liberal talk radio host; "Liberal and Proud" columnist for right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com; and FOX News contributor) have joined Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) -- and the U.S. Senate -- in calling for fairness and balance on the taxpayer-funded American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).
Currently, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh is the only partisan host featured on the service's talk channel. On the June 18 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Ratner said, "I was on the Kitty Hawk right before the Iraq war, and I would say probably 30 percent of the people that were -- that were on the Kitty Hawk, people who were good soldiers, men and women, were against the war. They were liberals. They have a right, serving their country."
But Colmes's co-host, Sean Hannity of the "fair and balanced" news channel, admitted, "I personally can't stand hearing the liberal point of view."
Although the Pentagon has conceded that it makes programming decisions based on content (and, thus, does not carry the popular radio talk show host Howard Stern because his content is deemed "not appropriate" by the government), Colmes and Ratner both defended Limbaugh's broadcast by AFRTS -- despite the view put forth by Media Matters for America: that Limbaugh should be removed from the AFRTS because he has repeatedly downplayed, dismissed, and even endorsed the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Colmes also remarked, "In fact, we owe Limbaugh a debt of gratitude for doing what he's done for talk [radio]. Liberals don't like it when I say that."
Without naming Media Matters for America, Hannity appeared to refer to MMFA in accusing Ratner of "reading the propaganda from these weirdo websites." He then distorted the MMFA position:
HANNITY: And for the groups and liberals or so-called free speech liberals that are trying to shut Rush down and get him off this channel, this -- this is government censorship.
They are trying to use politicians to censor somebody for the sole purpose that they don't like their point of view. This ought to scare the living daylights out of all of you Alan Colmes and Ellen Ratner fans out there. You ought to be scared to death, because if they can do it to Rush, they'll do it to Alan [Colmes], they'll do it to Tavis [Smiley, host of NPR's The Tavis Smiley Show], they'll do it to NPR and then where are we?
As Limbaugh has done repeatedly, Hannity falsely implied that Harkin's call for balance on AFRTS was disingenuous and that Harkin wants Limbaugh to be removed from AFRTS's talk radio programming:
COLMES: We will -- Tom Harkin does not want Rush off the air. He wants balance.
HANNITY: I bet he does.