Fearmongering on Fox: Hannity, Hunt, and Gibson exaggerate N. Korea missile threat

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

Fox News' John Gibson and Sean Hannity hosted segments hyping the threat posed by reports that North Korea will soon conduct a test launch of a long range missile. Most notably, Fox News analyst Col. David Hunt baselessly suggested on Hannity & Colmes that North Korea could attack the U.S. with a nuclear weapon at any moment.

On the June 19 editions of Fox News' The Big Story and Hannity & Colmes, John Gibson and Sean Hannity hosted segments hyping the threat posed by reports that North Korea will soon conduct a test launch of a long range missile. Most notably, Fox News analyst Col. David Hunt baselessly suggested on Hannity & Colmes that North Korea could attack the U.S. with a nuclear weapon at any moment, stating: "They have the atomic bomb and now the missile that can hit Kansas City." Hannity then appeared to accept Hunt's suggestion that the U.S. could be "at war" with North Korea "by the end of the week." On Big Story, Gibson suggested that residents of Los Angeles and Berkeley, California, are now "on the bull's eye," and could "get hit ... easily."

In fact, as the Associated Press reported earlier on June 19, "most experts" believe North Korea is "a long way off from perfecting the technology that would make the missile accurate and able to carry a nuclear payload."

Moreover, although reports vary, Hunt apparently exaggerated the range of the missile by claiming it could hit Kansas City. The AP report stated that the missile could reach the U.S. West Coast at full range, but according to a June 18 Los Angeles Times report, the missile "would be capable of reaching Guam, but not the U.S. mainland." The New York Times reported on June 19: "American intelligence officials say they believe that the system is a Taepodong 2 missile and that a three-stage version could strike all of the United States. One administration official said the missile at the launching pad was a two-stage version."

Gibson's discussion of the purported North Korea threat also included baseless attacks on former Vice President Al Gore and West Coast residents: "They [West Coast residents] don't like Bush because he is worried about the axis of evil and they do like Gore because he is not so worried about the bad guys unless they are driving an SUV and melting the polar ice caps." He added that "being on the bull's eye" of a purported North Korea attack might "focus" Los Angeles residents' "attention," but that since Berkeley, California, residents' "hatred for Bush and his wars is even more intense" than that of Los Angeles residents, "I wouldn't expect much from them."

From the June 19 edition of Fox News' Big Story with John Gibson:

GIBSON: "My Word." I know the liberals in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Malibu, and the Hollywood Hills hate any war talk unless it's a war movie. They don't like Bush because he is worried about the Axis of Evil, and they do like Gore because he's not so worried about the bad guys unless they're driving an SUV and melting the polar ice caps. But things may change, and I'm anxious to see the West Coast discussion that is bound to ensue over the next few days. What's changed is the North Koreans are about to test a missile that could hit -- well, a lot of places, according to this map, but most particularly, Los Angeles. This brings the axis of evil much closer to home.

I lived in L.A. many years. I know the tendency there is to worry about box office, a good sushi place, beach weather, and the traffic headed to the valley. But being on the bull's eye tends to focus one's attention. It should focus the attention of folks in Berkeley, too. They could get hit just as easily as L.A. evidently. But their hatred for Bush and his wars is even more intense, so I wouldn't expect much from them. But the Los Angelinos might now see they are as vulnerable as New York. They should have seen it anyway; after all, the "millennium bomber" planned to blow up LAX [Los Angeles International Airport]. But they forget quickly out there.

When you live on the East Coast, you kind of get it when it comes to terrorism. The terrorists want to blow up Times Square, the Capitol. It all makes sense. For my West Coast brethren, it's been a little more disconnected. It's been, "Hey, aren't we over that 9-11 thing?" Well, no, we're not. And maybe now they won't be over it either.

North Korea is a plaything of a nut job who can't be counted on not to use his missile or many of them if he could build them fast. He couldn't be counted on to not build a bomb. We have made a mistake thinking he only wanted it for deterrence. Maybe he did want nukes in order to put them on missiles he could use to threaten the United States. Maybe that anti-ballistic missile system we're working on isn't such a bad idea. Maybe the hard left located on the far left coast will see that now. Being on a bull's eye changes one perspective dramatically. That's "My Word."

From the June 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: Colonel Hunt, why Korea doing this now?

HUNT: Because they can, because we haven't stopped them. They're a terrorist state that probably -- that has the bomb. And now, they've got a missile that can reach Kansas City and Chicago. If they're not going to launch that missile at us, they could sell it to terrorists. They're doing it because they can. We've got to stop this. It cannot be allowed. They have the atomic bomb and now the missile that can hit Kansas City.

[...]

HANNITY: The next question is, is what does the United States do? As [Secretary of State] Condi Rice was saying, this is a provocative act. If they launch this missile, and we have the ability to knock it out of the air, should the United States take that missile out?

HUNT: Yes. But if we do that, we have to understand we've just gone to war. We can do a lot of stuff in the air, Sean. We can do evasive anti-missile stuff. We don't have the ground troops because we're committed other places, but I think we have to be careful. The reason is South Korea is such an easy target to the North.

HANNITY: But wait a minute, though. So if they fire this missile by the end of the week, we should be prepared, if we have a chance, knock it out? But if you're saying that that happens, we're at war?

HUNT: I think if you launch -- yes, that's the last straw. We should do everything up to that point. I don't think -- the problem we've got is we're blind intelligence-wise in North Korea.

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