On August 20, Sean Hannity misrepresented a statement that President Obama made during a conference call with religious leaders, claiming that Obama "talked about those of us that oppose ObamaCare as, quote, 'bearing false witness.' " In fact, Obama was not calling out opponents of health insurance reform, but rather those who have misinformed about it, stating: "I know there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness, but I want everyone to know what health insurance reform is all about."
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From the August 20 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: The president on this conference call with a number of religious leaders had some very harsh language, and he used a lot of religious terms. He talked about those of us that oppose ObamaCare as, quote, "bearing false witness," urging them to speak the truth. He said, "I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper." He said this is a core ethical and moral obligation.
So if the president views it in those moral terms and that moral light, and he thinks he's that morally superior in his views, it tells me he won't stop at anything to get this done. Am I wrong?
HANNITY: You know, when the president starts getting on the phone with religious leaders, accusing those of us that disagree of "bearing false witness"; "I need you to speak the truth"; "I am my brother's keeper, my sister's keeper"; "this is a core ethical and moral obligation."
To cloak it in those terms -- I mean, am I allowed to bring Reverend [Jeremiah] Wright back up now that he's -- you know, everyone's like, "Hannity, you talked a lot about that Reverend Wright guy."
SPENCER TILLMAN (CBS Sports reporter): Right. Right.
HANNITY: I found that shocking basically. We're bearing false witness? Last time I checked, that was one of the big ones.
In fact, Obama was criticizing those responsible for "misinformation in this debate"
Obama was referring to those spreading "misinformation" on health care as "bearing false witness." Contrary to Hannity's claim, during his August 19 conference call with religious leaders, Obama was not referring to those that "oppose" or "disagree" with his health care reform plans as "bearing false witness," but to "some folks out there" spreading "misinformation in this debate." Obama reportedly stated: "I know there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness, but I want everyone to know what health insurance reform is all about."
Hannity himself has spread "a lot of misinformation" on health care reform
Hannity has made numerous false claims about the House tri-committee bill. On August 19, after claiming to have "read the entire bill, all 1,018 pages," Hannity falsely claimed that if small businesses "don't go for the public option" under a House health care reform bill, "they're going to be punished," and that end-of-life provisions in the bill would establish "a bureaucrat that is designated to save money talking to an elderly person and offering them end-of-life advice." In fact, the penalty on small business would apply to businesses that don't provide health care, not specifically on those that "don't go for the public option," and the end-of-life provisions would reimburse physicians -- not "a bureaucrat" -- for voluntary counseling sessions.
Hannity echoed GOP in claiming "cooperative plan is basically the same thing with a new packaging." Discussing reports that the Obama administration might support health care cooperatives as an alternative to the public option, Hannity claimed on August 17, "I think the cooperative plan is basically the same thing with a new packaging." He then asserted that "this is still going to be government-run health care." As Media Matters noted, by mischaracterizing cooperatives as identical to the public option, Hannity was echoing GOP talking points and ignoring numerous economists who have argued that cooperatives will be less effective than a public option.
Hannity claimed a government rationing body will "tell women with breast cancer, 'You're dead.' " On June 19, Hannity stated that under health care reform, "[W]e're gonna have a government rationing body that tells women with breast cancer, 'You're dead.' They -- it's a death sentence." In fact, insurance companies acknowledge that they currently ration care, restricting coverage of procedures and tests like MRIs and CAT scans and denying coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
Hannity falsely claimed health care reform will lead to denying treatment to elderly. On the July 17 broadcast of his radio show, Hannity promoted Betsy McCaughey's false claims on "end-of-life counseling," stating: "Now, she [McCaughey] actually uncovered in this bill a particularly outrageous provision -- and by the way, there will be more to come in the ObamaCare plan. According to McCaughey, she's saying under the House provision and the House version, perfectly healthy senior citizens are going to be forced to undergo, quote, 'end-of-life counseling,' apparently to encourage them to check out before their time is up." [ABC Radio Network's The Sean Hannity Show, 7/17/09]
Hannity falsely claimed House bill would ban private individual insurance. Citing a false Investor's Business Daily editorial, Hannity claimed of the House bill on July 16: "The one thing that we do know in the health care bill is that it's gonna literally -- the bill says -- Investor's Business Daily had an article today -- and the bill says that if you don't have your insurance the year this legislation is implemented, you can't have a private insurance company. So that will end -- hang on -- that will end private insurance." In fact, the provision to which the IBD editorial referred establishes the conditions under which existing private plans would be exempted from the requirement that they participate in the Health Insurance Exchange.