On Hannity & Colmes, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson said of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago: "If a white preacher, including the KKK, espouses so-called white values -- remember, at one time, the KKK was doing that." During the show, neither Peterson nor Sean Hannity explained how Trinity United Church of Christ in any way reflects the ideology, mission, or history of the KKK.
On the January 22 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson asserted in reference to an award given by Trumpet Newsmagazine, a publication founded by Trinity United Church of Christ, to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan: "Look at [Rev.] Jeremiah Wright [pastor of Trinity], for an example. This guy's daughter gave an award to Louis Farrakhan. Louis Farrakhan is a racist, and we all know it. But because they're black and Democrat, they are allowed to get away with it." Peterson then said: "Jeremiah Wright, for an example. If a white preacher, including the KKK, espouses so-called white values -- remember, at one time, the KKK was doing that." During the show, neither Peterson nor co-host Sean Hannity made any effort to explain Peterson's suggestion that Trinity United Church of Christ in any way reflects the ideology, mission, or history of the KKK, beyond his assertion regarding the KKK: "They were like, 'We're for white people, we're for our folks.' " Hannity and his guests have frequently commented on Wright and Trinity United Church of Christ, the Chicago church of which Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is a member.
Peterson's comment came after Hannity asserted: "[I]f you're a radio host or a television host and you say something that is deemed inappropriate -- for example, where did any of the people that went after Don Imus -- why didn't they go after Calvin Butts for saying, 'Go to hell, white man'?" Hannity was referring to Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, who recently endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for president. According to Butts, a " 'substantial figure' in the business and political life of the city" said to him, "[Y]ou know, most crime is black-on-black crime, and the police have done a lot of good. And we need you now. You're a black leader. We need you to go out there and deal with your people." Butts said that he replied: "Go to hell, white man." Following Hannity's statement, Peterson asserted: "[T]here is a double standard, and white Americans are afraid."
On the March 1, 2007, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Wright told co-host Alan Colmes that Trinity's philosophy does not "assume superiority nor does it assume separatism." Wright stated: "We have no hierarchal arrangement. When you say an African-centered way of thinking -- African-centered philosophy, African-centered theology -- you're talking about one center. We're talking about something that's different, and different does not mean deficient ... nor does it mean superior or inferior." Nevertheless, as Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, and here), Hannity has since repeatedly referred to Wright or Trinity as "separatist" without mentioning Wright's statement that the church's philosophy does not "assume separatism."
Additionally, as Media Matters also documented, on the December 19 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity said to right-wing pundit Ann Coulter: "You know, Barack Obama's pastor ... has this whole list of the Black Value System. It seems like he's supporting a segregated church." During the segment, Hannity provided no evidence to support his suggestion that Trinity is "segregated." According to an April 2, 2007, posting on the website of the Martin Marty Center -- the institute for advanced research in all fields of the study of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School -- professor emeritus Martin E. Marty wrote of Trinity: "My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed."
Regarding the award to Farrakhan, on January 15, the Obama campaign released a statement posted the same day on the washingtonpost.com blog The Trail that read:
"I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. ... I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree."
Following Peterson's November 29, 2004, appearance on Hannity & Colmes, Media Matters noted that Hannity is a strong supporter of Peterson's and is a member of the advisory board for Peterson's organization, Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND). On the BOND website, Hannity is quoted saying that organization "continues to fight the good fight standing for the values of God, family, and country, and are deserving of our support." Hannity has acknowledged his ties to Peterson and BOND in the past, but did not do so during Peterson's January 22 appearance.
From the January 22 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Reverend [Al] Sharpton has made multiple statements over the course of his career that have been over the top and out of line. [Rev.] Jesse Jackson has. Louis Farrakhan is an outright racist and anti-Semite, based on the things he's said over the years, as far as I'm concerned. Democrats can have Robert Byrd [WV] as their -- as a leader in the Senate.
PETERSON: That's right.
HANNITY: Why does the double standard exist? How do you change that?
PETERSON: Well, good point. Good question. The reason that the double standard exists is because white Americans are afraid. They are afraid of being called a racist. And any time you are afraid, your enemy will overtake you. And it's never going to change. And I've given white folks permission to start speaking up. I'm a black American. I love my country. I love what's right. And I know that it's only the truth that's going to bring on a change. And until that happens, it's going to continue.
HANNITY: But you see, if you're a radio host or a television host and you say something that is deemed inappropriate -- for example, where did any of the people that went after Don Imus -- why didn't they go after Calvin Butts for saying, "Go to hell, white man"?
PETERSON: That's right. Because he's black. I'm telling you, because he's black, and there is a double standard, and white Americans are afraid. Look at Jeremiah Wright, for an example. This guy's daughter gave an award to --
PETERSON: -- to Louis Farrakhan. Louis Farrakhan is a racist, and we all know it. But because they're black and Democrat, they're allowed to get away with it. If -- and Jeremiah Wright, for an example. If a white preacher, including the KKK, espouses so-called white values -- remember, at one time, the KKK was doing that.
PETERSON: They were like, "We're for white people, we're for our folks." [unintelligible]
HANNITY: David Duke [unintelligible]
PETERSON: They got rid of those folks. But when it happened with black Democrats, they're allowed to do it.
HANNITY: Do you think -- how could you have that in your heart, those words, "Go to hell, white man," if you don't have racial antipathy?
PETERSON: That's what it's all about. They hate white Americans. They are racist toward white Americans, no thanks to the so-called civil rights leaders. You know, we just celebrated Dr. King's birthday last night.
HANNITY: Well, we were there at the same meeting.
PETERSON: Yeah, it was fun. Great speech, by the way.
HANNITY: Thank you.