On the August 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity aired video footage of musician and right-wing activist Ted Nugent at an August 21 concert calling Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) a "piece of shit" and referring to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as a "worthless bitch." In the video clip, Nugent holds up what appear to be two assault rifles and says he told Obama "to suck on my machine gun" and says he told Clinton "you might want to ride one of these into the sunset." After airing the clip, Hannity referred to Nugent as a "friend and frequent guest on the program," and then compared Nugent's comments to recent statements by Obama, which Hannity again distorted by claiming Obama "accus[ed] our troops of killing civilians." Hannity then asked Democratic strategist Bob Beckel: "What's more offensive to you? Is it Barack Obama's statement about our troops or Ted Nugent?" Beckel responded by asking Hannity if he was "prepared to disavow this lowlife," to which Hannity responded: "No, I like Ted Nugent. He's a friend of mine." When Beckel said that Nugent "ought to never come on your show again, and if you have him on, you ought to be ashamed of yourself," Hannity responded: "Not at all. We have you on."
According to Nugent's biography on his personal website, he has been a member of the National Rifle Association's board of directors since 1995. In addition to his attacks on Clinton and Obama, Nugent, in a portion of the video clip not aired on Hannity & Colmes, said that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) "might want to suck on my machine gun," and called Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) a "worthless whore."
Notwithstanding his defense of Nugent, Hannity has decried "hate speech" in the past -- particularly comments directed at President Bush and other conservatives. For example, as Media Matters for America previously noted, on the March 13 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity denounced Clinton's claims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" as "hate speech." On the March 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America, Hannity devoted an entire segment to a "list of the worst examples of liberal hate speech," during which he attacked Clinton, National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), comedian and Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken, actor Alec Baldwin, and others.
As Media Matters documented, Hannity has repeatedly mischaracterized Obama's August 13 statement that "[w]e've got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan], and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there." Obama did not "accus[e]" American troops of anything, but instead expressed support for increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan so the U.S. military is not so reliant on airstrikes in the region.
From the August 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
NUGENT [video clip]: I was in Chicago. I said, "Hey, Obama, you might want to suck on one of these, you punk!"
Obama, he's a piece of [bleep]. And I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let's hear it for it.
And I was in New York. I said, "Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless [bleep]!"
HANNITY: That was friend and frequent guest on the program Ted Nugent expressing his feelings towards Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Joining us now, Democratic strategist Bob Beckel and Republican strategist Karen Hanretty.
You know, Bob, we may actually agree here. Here is Ted Nugent. He's saying, you know, the "Wang Dang" song, "Cat Scratch Fever," wears a loincloth on stage, fires, you know, an arrow at targets on stage. I see you liberals more upset about that, but I don't hear anybody criticizing Barack Obama for accusing our troops of killing civilians, air-raiding villages, et cetera, et cetera. What's more shocking to you? What's more offensive to you? Is it Barack Obama's statement about our troops or Ted Nugent?
BECKEL: You know, only you could figure out a way to ask a question like that. First of all, Nugent, this is a boy who's missing a couple dogs from under his front porch. This guy has been pimping for Republicans for years now. They want him to run for Senate against Obama. I can't believe -- when the Dixie Chicks said something about George Bush, which was mild compared to this jerk, and the religious right, the Dobsons and the Robertsons, rose up in fury. You rose up in fury.
HANNITY: You know, typical Bob Beckel. But you can't answer the question. I didn't ask you that.
BECKEL: I want to see --
BECKEL: Are you prepared now, Sean -- are you prepared to disavow this lowlife or not?
HANNITY: No, I like Ted Nugent. He's a friend of mine.
BECKEL: You do, after did he that? After he did that?
HANNITY: But he's a rock star. Yes, here's my point. If you don't like it, don't go to the concert, don't buy his new albums.
BECKEL: I can't believe you're defending this lowlife.
HANNITY: Here's my question again, and hopefully your liberal brain can absorb it.
BECKEL: The question is not even a close call. I think Nugent was far over the line and Obama was not.
HANNITY: I want to know. Barack Obama accused our troops of killing civilians and air-raiding villages. What is more offensive to you, which statement?
BECKEL: Because I know the context in which Obama said it. This Nugent is more offensive. This guy ought to be knocked off the air. He ought to never come on your show again, and if you have him on, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. He's a bum!
HANNITY: Not at all. We have you on.