Despite having previously condemned Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) for invoking Adolf Hitler and asserting that a Republican could never get away with such rhetoric, Fox News host Sean Hannity chose to ignore Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-PA) comparison of Senate Democrats to Hitler, though Byrd's Hitler reference occurred in a statement about the very same topic.
Santorum said on the Senate floor May 19 that Democratic complaints about the "nuclear option" to ban judicial filibusters are "the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying: I'm in Paris, how dare you invade me, how dare you bomb my city. It's mine." Even after co-host Alan Colmes quoted the remark on the May 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes and former Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, who appeared as a guest on the show, called it inappropriate, Hannity declined to condemn it. Rather, he accused Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) of having a "meltdown" for declaring in Senate debate that the "radical right" is seeking to "take over the independent judiciary," and rehashed disparaging remarks Kennedy made about Bork in 1987.
Byrd referenced Hitler in the filibuster debate on March 1 by exclaiming that, like proposed Republican efforts to ban judicial filibusters, "Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality. ... Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal." Hannity responded on the March 2 edition of Hannity & Colmes by calling Byrd "unhinged," condemning his Hitler remarks as "atrocious" and "disgraceful," asking, "Could a Republican ever get away with comparing Democrats to Adolf Hitler?"
Hannity did open the May 19 edition of Hannity & Colmes by condemning a senator's floor remarks from that day as indicative of "rhetoric over judicial nominees ... getting worse," but he chose to focus his attention on Kennedy's "meltdown" rather than Santorum's Hitler remark:
HANNITY: And then, the rhetoric over judicial nominees -- it's getting worse at our nation's capital, but are Democrats playing fair? Ted Kennedy had a meltdown today. Let's take a look.
KENNEDY: There is a radical right out there that is loose in the country. They feel they won the presidency, the House of Representatives, the Senate of the United States, and by God, they're going to take over the independent judiciary.
During an interview with Bork later in the program, Colmes raised the Santorum remark as a better example of "meltdown," but Hannity again ignored Santorum's remark and returned to criticizing Kennedy, this time for remarks he made in 1987 about Bork:
COLMES: If you want to talk about a meltdown, here is what Rick Santorum said today on the floor of the Senate, let's see if this -- he was talking about the filibuster. Let's see if this is a meltdown.
SANTORUM: The rule has been in place for 214 years that this is the way we confirm judges. Broken by the other side two years ago. And the audacity of some members to stand up and say, how dare you break this rule! It's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying: I'm in Paris, how dare you invade me, how dare you bomb my city? It's mine.
COLMES: Do you think it's appropriate to compare what the Democrats are doing to Adolf Hitler circa 1942?
BORK: No, I don't. But I'm afraid this town is more poisonous now, more polarized and venomous than even during Nixon's troubles when he was forced from office. I had never seen anything like this, this going on now.
HANNITY: Judge Bork, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it. And let me repeat for our audience, and nobody can contradict this: This is the first time in 214 years, the first time that judicial nominees who would otherwise, if given an up-or-down vote would be approved, are being denied an up-or-down vote [Media Matters for America contradicted Hannity's claim here]. It has never happened before ever. Judge, when you were -- in 1987, Ted Kennedy said about you, you have been a victim of this.
[Quoting Kennedy] "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is the protector of individual rights." This man has been involved in smear campaigns like this, starting with you.