FOX News Channel co-host Sean Hannity relayed the Republican National Committee (RNC) talking point that Senator John Edwards (D-NC) is the "number four liberal" in the Senate -- a label promoted in a July 6 RNC research brief that is based on only 40 Senate votes from one session of Congress and is not representative of Edwards's more moderate record in the Senate -- during a July 7 debate with Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) on Hannity & Colmes. Just moments later, Hannity asserted, "I don't have any party talking points."
In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented, Sean Hannity habitually spouts Republican Party talking points. For starters, Hannity echoed the same RNC brief talking point (about Edwards's voting record) on the July 6 edition of Hannity & Colmes as he did on the July 7 program. Also on July 6, Hannity mouthed another RNC brief talking point: an anecdote originally recounted in a June 2003 Washington Monthly column, that cited an unnamed, secondhand, but purportedly "reliable source" as saying Edwards did not know who former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was.
And that same day, Hannity parroted the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign talking point that "John Kerry's first choice for a vice presidential running mate, [was] United States Senator John McCain" (R-AZ) despite the fact that, as Media Matters for America previously noted, the Associated Press reported in June that McCain's chief of staff, Mark Salter, had said, ''Senator McCain categorically states that he has not been offered the vice presidency by anyone." McCain himself stated on FOX News Radio's Tony Snow Show on July 7 that the vice presidency "was never offered" by Kerry.
Adhering to Bush-Cheney '04 campaign ads and a February Republican National Committee research brief, Hannity has repeatedly echoed Republican distortions of Kerry's record on military funding. Following comments by then-vice president-elect Dick Cheney; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey that Bush "inherited a recession" from the Clinton administration, Hannity repeated the false claim numerous times on Hannity & Colmes.
On one broadcast, on May 18, in addition to repeating the distortions of Kerry's record on defense and of the "Clinton-Gore recession," Hannity echoed a Bush-Cheney '04 campaign ad that made the false claim that Kerry "supported a 50 cent a gallon gas tax."
From the July 7 Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Here you have in 2003 the number one liberal in the Senate, John Kerry; number four liberal, John Edwards. Here you're from Nebraska. Would you want them to come campaign across Nebraska with you and for you, running for reelection?
NELSON: Well, it's a long time between now and two years, so I don't -- I don't make those decisions well in advance, quite honestly.
HANNITY: But would you consider them an asset?
NELSON: We need to move away from the party talking points and...
HANNITY: I don't have any party talking points.