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On the July 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity responded to liberal blogger Hart Williams' recent statement that he has "dibs on [conservative radio host] Rush [Limbaugh], as soon as it's legal and lawful to shoot him" by asking, "And what if it was a conservative that said this?" Later in the segment, co-host Alan Colmes cited right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's statement in her book High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case against Bill Clinton (Regnery, 1998), that the national debate during the Monica Lewinsky uproar should not have focused on whether President Bill Clinton "did it," but rather "whether to impeach or assassinate" him. Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III replied: "I have never heard her say that." Hannity agreed: "I've never heard it, either." However, as Media Matters for America documented, Coulter's comments were discussed on a previous edition of Hannity & Colmes.
In her 1998 book on Clinton, Coulter wrote:
In this recurring nightmare of a presidency, we have a national debate about whether he "did it," even though all sentient people know he did. Otherwise there would be debates only about whether to impeach or assassinate.
On the August 31, 2006, edition of the show, during a segment with Coulter and Douglas Schoen, chairman of the communications firm Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Colmes challenged Coulter to distinguish her suggestion that the issue was "whether to assassinate or impeach" Clinton from the film Death of a President (Borough Films), which dramatically portrays the assassination of President Bush. Colmes asked: "I guess it's OK to joke about assassinating a president, but it's not OK to represent it in a dramatic presentation, right?" In response, Coulter asserted that her suggestion came in the context of a description of "the entire history of impeachment, which we got from the British. I explained how we changed it here in America. In Britain ... one of the punishments [for impeachment] was hanging." Hannity was present during the entire interview, and at one point, after Schoen interrupted Coulter, Hannity came to her defense, stating: "Let her finish this thought. Go ahead."
This is not the first time that Hannity has denied Coulter's statement about "assassinat[ing]" Clinton. Indeed, as Media Matters noted, Hannity suggested on the July 6, 2006, edition of the show that she has never "suggested that Bill Clinton should die." During the segment -- which featured Coulter -- Hannity discussed a weblog post by actor Alec Baldwin in which Baldwin expressed his desire to kill Osama bin Laden and have him "land on Dick Cheney." Hannity asserted that "we all know Alec Baldwin is unhinged. But if Ann Coulter suggested Bill Clinton should die, as Baldwin suggests, what would the reaction be all over the country? It would be quite different than what we're seeing here, wouldn't it?" Coulter responded: "Yes. It's always frustrating trying to explain the humor in something to liberals, who are humorless."
Beyond her statement regarding Clinton in High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Coulter has repeatedly suggested that certain public figures or journalists should be killed:
- During a January 27, 2006, speech, Coulter said, "We need somebody to put rat poison in [Supreme Court] Justice [John Paul] Stevens' creme brulee."
- Coulter titled her August 30, 2006, column "They Shot the Wrong Lincoln," referring to then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI).
- An August 26, 2002, New York Observer article quoted Coulter as saying, "My only regret with [Oklahoma City bomber] Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
- On the February 7, 2005, edition of CNBC's Kudlow & Cramer, Coulter said, "Would that it were so! ... That the American military were targeting journalists."
Moreover, Media Matters has documented numerous other examples of conservative media figures advocating or musing about the execution of people with whom they disagree.
From the July 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Hart Williams is a liberal blogger who went from porn to politics and is now threatening some of our good friends because he doesn't like what both Rush Limbaugh and Ted Nugent have said about him and his, quote, "friends and peers." Williams said, unquote, "Now, I've got dibs on Rush, as soon as it's legal and lawful to shoot him. Whoever wants Ted Nugent is welcome to him, but I would prefer that you would call it now, so as to conserve on ammunition. We will need to manage it prudently," end quote. Joining us now from the Media Research Center is Brent Bozell. You know, I know there's a lot of hatred now towards conservatives, Brent. Where could this go legally? And what if it was a conservative that said this, either a blogger or a talk-show host?
COLMES: And you also -- apparently, didn't it bother you when she said the only question about Bill Clinton is whether to impeach or assassinate? Did that bother you? And did you come forward and speak out about that?
BOZELL: I think it's terrible that you say something like that. I have no question about it.
COLMES: Did you attack Ann Coulter when she said that? Were you on shows like this --
BOZELL: That she -- he should be assassinated?
COLMES: -- saying how bad it was when she said, "The only question about Bill Clinton is whether to impeach or assassinate." Where were you on that?
BOZELL: I have never heard her say that.
HANNITY: I've never heard it, either.
COLMES: That's very convenient.
HANNITY: Anyway, Brent, good to see you, my friend.
BOZELL: Well, don't believe me.
HANNITY: And thanks for being with us.
From the August 31, 2006, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Doug, let me tell you -- you know what? The one thing that drives you fellow libs crazy? Although you're not a real liberal.
SCHOEN: I'm a centrist, please.
HANNITY: All right, you're all right, you're not as bad as Alan. Just kidding. It's a joke.
But in all seriousness, it drives you crazy when we talk about being weak on defense, you're appeasers, the NSA program you don't want, the Patriot Act program you don't want, data mining you don't want. You want to close Guantánamo Bay. I think that's weak on the most important issue of our time: our national security. I think the Republicans, if they get that message out, and the president started that today, we will win.
SCHOEN: And I think you're wrong, Sean. And I think you're wrong because the American people see Iraq, which is in the throes of the insurgency and a civil war, Afghanistan, which is plagued by the Taliban taking power in the south, North Korea and Iran both moving towards nuclear programs.
HANNITY: Thanks to Bill Clinton.
SCHOEN: We are less -- we are less secure because of the Bush administration. That's what people are going to vote on.
COLMES: We only have a moment here. You know, I'm tired of hearing that the Democrats don't want the NSA and don't want data mining. They want to do it with warrants. They want to do it constitutionally. The Democrats have never said they don't want that stuff.
Weak on security, when we're not protect our ports, not protecting our borders. The president wants to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. And how can you say that it's Democrats that are weak on security?
But I want to talk to you about this, this movie.
COLMES: Nobody is going to support a movie where you have the president assassinated. But you're the person who said on Clinton, "The only issue is whether to impeach or assassinate." So, Ann, I guess it's OK to joke about assassinating a president, but it's not OK to represent it in a dramatic presentation, right?
COULTER: I always feel like I'm explaining, "Why is a raisin not like an elephant?" to Democrats. Yes, these are different.
SCHOEN: Look, Hillary Clinton --
COULTER: Yes, these are different.
COLMES: Wait, let me get Ann's answer on this.
COLMES: I mean, you joke about assassinating Clinton, that's OK?
COULTER: It wasn't -- I -- OK, I will explain this to anyone who is incapable of reading --
COLMES: That was the joke you made.
COULTER: -- i.e. liberals. In my book, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, describing the entire history of impeachment, which we got from the British. I explained how we changed it here in America. In Britain, it was a criminal punishment. You would be -- one of the punishments was hanging. Here it was purely losing your office. At the end of this, I said, you know, something about the effect --
COLMES: You said the only issue is whether to impeach or assassinate Bill Clinton.
SCHOEN: What we need in our politics is bringing people together, ending the kind of division --
COULTER: No, the only question wouldn't be, if we were a decent country.
COLMES: Let Ann talk, and then I'll give you a chance to respond.
HANNITY: Let her finish this thought. Go ahead.
COULTER: Right. It's always right at the conclusion.
COLMES: Please, let her respond.
COULTER: I said the only question, if we were a decent country or something to that effect, would be whether to impeach or assassinate, not whether to impeach or not, comparing the British and the American systems.
COLMES: All right, let me --
COULTER: Come on, that isn't a movie.
COLMES: See I want her to answer, I don't want her to take her mike off. But go ahead, Doug.