On his radio and television shows, Sean Hannity again claimed that "[n]o other speaker had" a military plane "before" Nancy Pelosi and that she is the "first speaker to ever have that plane." In fact, following 9-11, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and the first speaker to use such a plane was Dennis Hastert in 2001.
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During the February 4 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Sean Hannity again falsely claimed that Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the first House speaker to be granted the use of a military jet, stating, "No other speaker had one before her." Likewise, on the February 5 edition of his Fox News television show, Hannity stated that Pelosi is the "first speaker to ever have that plane." In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented, House Sergeant-at-Arms Wilson Livingood said in a February 8, 2007, statement: "In a post 9/11 threat environment, it is reasonable and prudent to provide military aircraft to the Speaker for official travel between Washington and her district. The practice began with Speaker [Dennis] Hastert [R-IL] and I have recommended that it continue with Speaker Pelosi." In addition, then-White House press secretary Tony Snow said in a February 7, 2007, White House press briefing, "After September 11th, the Department of Defense -- with the consent of the White House -- agreed that the Speaker of the House should have military transport. ... So Speaker Hastert had access to military aircraft and Speaker Pelosi will, too."
Media Matters previously noted that, on the December 4, 2008, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Hannity falsely suggested that Pelosi's use of a military jet for transportation was unprecedented, asking Fox News contributor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), "If everyone's so angry at corporate jet use and corporations that have perks, why isn't there that same anger at Speaker Pelosi? You didn't have a jet as a speaker, correct?"
Additionally, on the February 4 broadcast of his radio show, CNN host Lou Dobbs said that Pelosi's "office was on me because I was giving her fits over the fact she had to have that great big old airplane, 'cause she had to get home to her constituents every weekend." But Dobbs' coverage of Pelosi's plane included repeatedly making false claims about the plane, and airing misleading reports on his CNN television program about the plane. Notably, on the February 5, 2007, and February 8, 2007, editions of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs falsely claimed that the military jet Hastert used for domestic travel had the capacity to fly Pelosi nonstop to her California district. In fact, CNN itself, among other media outlets, reported that Hastert's plane could not reliably reach Pelosi's district.
From the February 4 broadcast of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
HANNITY: We've got a brand new fleet of Air Force One jets being built for the president, a brand new fleet of limousines that have been built for the president, and then the president and his tax-cheat Treasury secretary, now they're insisting that companies that receive federal bailouts have got to limit executive pay to $500,000.
Now, when Nancy Pelosi gives up her plane, when every -- when every Cabinet secretary gives up their chauffeur, when they stop spending money like drunken sailors -- not to insult sailors -- maybe we can talk about executives. I told you this is the end of capitalism as we know it. And if the federal government is going to jump in and bail out these companies and dictate what people can and cannot make, we have now decided the government runs everything. There's even talk about either a government bed -- bad bank or a government takeover of the banking system.
And I don't begrudge the president, by the way, for changing the decorations of the White House. Go ahead, change away. I could care less, despite the fact that, on the public payroll, it's -- we're going to pay for it. The economy's in a full-fledged recession. It might be a good thing not to do it. I don't begrudge him upgrading Air Force One. Our presidents need to be safe. You know, despite his attacks on corporate execs who use private jets, why doesn't he take away Nancy Pelosi's jet? No other speaker had one before her.
From the February 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: Let's take away Pelosi's plane. Let's take away all the chauffeurs and the cars --
GERALDO RIVERA (Fox News host): She has a plane?
HANNITY: She has the Gulfstream. She flies home every weekend to San Francisco -- first speaker to ever have that plane.
GERALDO: Is that right?
HANNITY: Should we take that away?
GERALDO: Is that true?
STEVE ELMENDORF (Democratic strategist): She is not the first speaker to have a plane --
HANNITY: And we -- we pay for it.
GERALDO: Oh, all right. Here, see, I knew it.
HANNITY: Dennis Hastert --
ELMENDORF: That is not true. Dennis Hastert --
HANNITY: Dennis Hastert did not have a Gulfstream --
GERALDO: Oh, so his plane wasn't as good a plane.
HANNITY: -- taking it every weekend to San Francisco. I don't think she -- why should she get a plane? Why do I have to pay for her plane?
ELMENDORF: Because she's third --
RIVERA: Why am I hearing bad vibes about Air Force One? I never heard that when Ronald Reagan --
RIVERA: -- took Air Force One to vacation in California.
HANNITY: Listen, I don't mind, but, you know what? If we're going to, you know -- if we're going to manage money and we're going to, you know, demonize corporations, why don't we do it for the -- for the government?
ELMENDORF: The president of the United States deserves 24-hour, seven-day-a-week security --
HANNITY: I agree with you.
ELMENDORF: -- for good reason. The speaker of the House is third in line for the presidency of the United States.
HANNITY: Newt Gingrich didn't have one.
ELMENDORF: Yes, he did.
HANNITY: He did not have a plane -- no, sir.
ELMENDORF: Newt Gingrich had a lot of security --
HANNITY: He did not have a plane.
ELMENDORF: Dennis Hastert --
HANNITY: No plane.
ELMENDORF: -- the Republican speaker, had an plane, because after 9-11 --
HANNITY: Newt Gingrich had no plane.
ELMENDORF: -- after 9-11, the security people made a decision that these guys needed a plane.
HANNITY: All right. I have an idea. When they can balance their budget, when they can give us back the money they misappropriated on Social Security, I'll -- I'm with you. But we've got to take a break.
From the February 5 edition of United Stations Radio Networks' The Lou Dobbs Show:
DOBBS: All three CEOs of the auto companies got a lot of grief because they flew their corporate jets in instead of driving or being driven into Washington, D.C. But there was no discussion that [Rep.] Barney Frank [D-CA] or [Rep.] Chris Dodd [D-CT], the chairs of the House Financial Committee, or the Senate Banking Committee, or Harry Reid [D-NV], the Senate majority leader, or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should give up their perks, and their -- in the case of Pelosi and Reid, their big old jets that they get as a perk on the job. Are you surprised by that, Burt?
CALLER: Oh, yeah. And Pelosi couldn't get a big enough plane. Remember that?
DOBBS: Do I ever. Man, her office was on me because I was giving her fits over the fact she had to have that great big old airplane, 'cause she had to get home to her constituents every weekend -- crazy stuff. But, no, you're -- we're not going to see Congress roll anything back -- it just isn't in the cards, in my opinion, Burt.
CALLER: Yeah, I guess not.
DOBBS: I think we would -- it would be just as likely we would see Wall Street CEOs start giving back their pay, and their restricted stock, and their stock options, and their bonus money just because they lost tens of billons of dollars for their shareholders -- not any more likely at all.