Discussing congressional Republicans' willingness to oppose the Bush administration on the ports deal, Sean Hannity claimed that Republicans are not like Clinton supporters "that defended the indefensible." But from Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay to CNN analyst Bill Bennett's controversial abortion remarks and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson's comparison of embryonic stem cell research to Nazi experiments, Hannity has gone to astonishing lengths to defend what are, at best, questionable remarks and actions, often with falsehoods of his own.
On the March 9 broadcast of Fox News's Hannity & Colmes, while discussing congressional Republicans' willingness to oppose the Bush administration's position on the Dubai Ports World (DPW) controversy, co-host Sean Hannity claimed that Republicans "are not Kool-Aid drinkers, like some of the Clinton supporters that defended the indefensible." But from Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay to radio host and CNN analyst Bill Bennett's controversial abortion remarks and Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C. Dobson's comparison of embryonic stem cell research to Nazi experiments, Hannity has gone to astonishing lengths in defense of what are, at best, highly questionable comments and actions, often with falsehoods of his own. For instance:
- Hannity downplayed Abu Ghraib prison abuse
On the June 7, 2005, broadcast of ABC's daytime talk show The View, Hannity downplayed the abuse of prisoners by U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib by claiming that the extent of the abuse was limited to "underwear on the head of one of them." Numerous photos from news sources and an Army report documenting individual instances of abuse prove otherwise. On the September 10, 2004, edition of his ABC Radio Networks show, Hannity suggested that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) may have been behind the Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos, stating: "Was that a DNC plot, too?"
- Hannity minimized abuse at Gitmo
On the May 31, 2005, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity claimed that "we didn't hurt anybody" at Guantánamo, despite first-hand accounts by FBI agents and humanitarian workers for the International Committee of the Red Cross documenting prisoner abuse that included, but was not limited to, hooding and slapping prisoners, sleep deprivation, the use of dogs for intimidation, temperature extremes, persistent noise, and "some beatings." During the March 3 edition of Hannity & Colmes, despite several reports to the contrary, Hannity asserted: "There's nobody at Guantánamo Bay that's there for nothing."
- Hannity defended Bennett's controversial race comment
On January 18, Hannity defended a controversial remark by Bennett, former Secretary of Education under President Reagan -- that "if you wanted to reduce crime ... you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Hannity echoed Bennett's own false claim that the remark was not his "theory" and that Bennett was "quot[ing] from a book." As Media Matters for America noted, Bennett purported to explain the comment by falsely claiming that he was simply reiterating a theory presented in the book Freakonomics (William Morrow, May 2005) by authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. But, neither Levitt, nor the book, discuss "the racial implications of abortion and crime," as Bennett did.
- Hannity defended Dobson's Nazi comparison
During an interview with Dobson on the August 9, 2005, broadcast of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity defended Dobson's August 3, 2005, comments, in which he compared embryonic stem cell research with Nazi experiments conducted on live human patients prior to and during the Holocaust. Hannity told Dobson: "You said if any ethics or morality is removed, then you have Nazi Germany. You were very clear. You weren't making a comparison."
- Hannity attacked caller for linking Rove to Plame leak
On the October 25, 2005, broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Hannity responded to a caller's assertion that White House senior adviser Karl Rove was "involved" in the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity by labeling the caller a "nut case" and accusing him of "hatred, hatred, hatred for Bush and anyone associated with him." Rove did reportedly disclose Plame's identity to a reporter.
From the March 9 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, which featured co-host Alan Colmes and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA):
COLMES: It's pretty astounding to have one of the president's biggest supporters basically say -- you know, distancing himself there from what the White House is doing.
GINGRICH: Well, wait a second. I mean, [Rep.] Mark Foley [R-FL] was describing the Constitution of the United States. Article I, Section 1, is the Congress. Now, the job of the Congress is that nobody in Congress is on the president's team. They are independently elected members who work with the president. They are not people who work for the president.
COLMES: And he was making it very clear that he wanted to create some distance between House Republicans --
GINGRICH: Well, look --
COLMES: -- and the White -- and the West Wing.
GINGRICH: Look, on this particular issue -- and I know you love hearing this, Alan, so I -- I don't know. I don't know. Between now and your radio show later on tonight --
HANNITY: Hey, we got to -- we --
GINGRICH: -- how -- how many times you are going to want to go at this, but I concede this was a mistake. I -- you know, I feel very strongly this was a mistake. I'm glad it's now over.
HANNITY: Mr. Speaker, hang on one -- right there one second. And -- and, actually, we are not Kool-Aid drinkers, like some of the Clinton supporters that defended the indefensible, which is interesting.