Fox News' Sean Hannity Feeds Donald Trump Fake Syrian Refugee Claim From Hoax Website

››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & TYLER CHERRY

Fox News' Sean Hannity falsely claimed that "the president said he's going to bring in 250,000 Syrian refugees," a claim that PolitiFact rated "Pants-On-Fire" and traced back to a hoax website. After Hannity repeated the lie to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Trump began repeating it at campaign events.

Hannity Repeatedly Claimed President Obama Plans To "Bring In 250,000 Refugees" From Syria And Iraq

Sean Hannity: "The President Said He's Going To Bring In 250,000 Refugees Into This Country." On the October 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Sean Hannity told Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush that "the president said he's going to bring in 250,000 refugees into this country":

SEAN HANNITY: "You see the backlash emerging now in Europe over the refugee problem from Syria and Iraq. And the president said he's going to bring in 250,000 refugees into this country. My fear is, our national intelligence director, James Clapper, said that ISIS in Iraq will infiltrate the refugee population." [Fox News, Hannity, 10/19/15]

Hannity: "The President Has Committed To Nearly 250,000 Coming To America." On the October 20 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Sean Hannity discussed the Syrian refugee crisis with GOP White House candidate Donald Trump, claiming, "This president has committed to nearly 250,000 [refugees] coming to America." He added, "That tells me we're -- we have a pre-9/11 mindset again":

SEAN HANNITY: [W]e're now facing crisis, you see what's happening in Europe. There's a huge backlash because of Syrian refugees and Iraqi refugees, and the cost. We're being told by our National Intelligence Director that ISIS and Al Qaeda, not if -- they will infiltrate the refugee community. This president has committed to nearly 250,000 coming to America. That tells me we're -- we have a pre-9/11 mindset again. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/20/15]

PolitiFact: Sean Hannity's Claim Relies On 'Hoax Site' "Real News Right Now"

PolitiFact: Sean Hannity Falls For Hoax Website's Claim That U.S. Is Taking In 250,000 Syrian Refugees. An October 26 fact check by PolitiFact analyzed Sean Hannity's repeated claims that, "The president said he's going to bring in 250,000 refugees into this country." PolitiFact's Jon Greenberg ultimately awarded Hannity's claim a "Pants-on-Fire" rating, after concluding that, "in plain fact, President Barack Obama never said that, nor as far as anyone can tell has any member of his administration." Additionally, PolitiFact noted that Hannity's only potential source for this claim appeared on the hoax site, "realnewsrightnow.com," which cites the non-existent "State Department spokeswoman Cathy Pieper." From PolitiFact:

"You see the backlash emerging now in Europe over the refugee problem for Syria and Iraq," Hannity said. "The president said he's going to bring in 250,000 refugees into this country."

[...]

In plain fact, President Barack Obama never said that, nor as far as anyone can tell has any member of his administration. In September, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Obama "informed his team that he would like them to accept -- at least make preparations to accept -- at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year."

[...]

We reached out to Hannity's program and did not hear back.

The figure he used seems to have emerged in early September on a website called realnewsrightnow.com. The website reported that State Department spokeswoman Cathy Pieper announced that 250,000 Syrian refugees would be resettled on tribal reservation lands in Arizona and North Dakota.

We could find no Cathy Pieper working for the State Department.

Other articles on realnewsrightnow.com claim that "Obama will exercise his presidential powers" ending term limits and that Pope Francis claimed that "God Has Instructed Me to Revise the Ten Commandments." [PolitiFact, 10/26/15]

UPDATE: Hannity Doubles Down On Debunked Claim, And PolitiFact Still Rates It "Pants-On-Fire

Hannity Doubles Down And Attempts To Explain Why PolitiFact's Rating Is Wrong. On the October 27 edition of Hannity, Sean Hannity doubled down on his claim that the United States is going to accept 255,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees, despite PolitiFact ruling his claim "Pants-on-Fire" false the day prior:

SEAN HANNITY: I don't normally spend time, waste my time responding to stupidity from liberal websites that spend their days attacking me. And by the way, nor do I read the conspiracy websites that apparently they do. Now there's a group out there called PolitiFact and they have been attacking me and this program for a figure that I used about refugees being welcomed into the United States. So this one time, I'm going to break my rule. I'll spend some time fact checking the so-called fact checkers. Now you can throw aside, by the way, your government calculators there at PolitiFact. Let me teach you some simple addition. Now, I was quoting an AP article entitled "Kerry: US To Accept 85,000 Refugees In 2016, 100,000 In 2017." Well, that equals 185,000, right? Well, that's not all. According to the same report, the State Department is currently accepting 70,000 refugees in 2015. In other words, they said the 85 on top of the 70 they took in this year. That equals 255,000. That's how I came to the number. And by the way, for the record, if you listen to my radio or TV show or watch my TV show, I never said all the refugees were Syrian. I have mentioned numerous times that they're coming from Iraq and other countries. Now, refugee migration is a complex topic, I can understand how these left-wing critics could become so easily confused. But this is as simple as one plus one equals two, and when you're only advocating a political agenda like PolitiFact, I understand, guys, where you're coming from. So, PolitiFact, to use your words, liar, liar, your pants are on fire. Get yourself a good calculator. [Fox News, Hannity10/27/15]

PolitiFact Dismantles Hannity's Claim For A Second Time. On October 27, PolitiFact added an Editor's Note as an addendum to its original fact-check, writing, "Sean Hannity responded and provided the source of his claim. We have updated the fact-check to include his source and our analysis of it." After analyzing Hannity's claims and sources, PolitiFact still ruled the claim as "Pants-On-Fire":

Hannity said his figure was based on a Sept. 20 Associated Press report. The AP report said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States would accept up to 85,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2016 and up to 100,000 in Fiscal Year 2017. In Fiscal Year 2015, the United States accepted nearly 70,000 refugees.

Add those three numbers together and you get 255,000 refugees, Hannity said.

That math is right, but none of it makes Hannity's claim accurate.

The Associated Press report Hannity cited is discussing the total number of refugees admitted to the United States worldwide.

But Hannity, in his remarks Oct. 19 and Oct. 20, was discussing refugees coming from Iraq and Syria, fearing they might be infiltrated by ISIS or al-Qaida. 

[...]

Hannity's claim rates Pants on Fire! [PolitiFact, 10/26/15]

Following Interview With Sean Hannity, Trump Repeated Refugee Claim At New Hampshire Campaign Event

Donald Trump: Obama "Wants To Bring In 250,000 People" In What "Could Be The Greatest Trojan Horse Of All Time." At a New Hampshire town hall event broadcast by NBC, Matt Lauer pressed Trump on his belief that refugees who have escaped Syria and entered the United States should be deported. Trump defended his position by saying, "Now we're going to take in 250,000 people, they're coming from areas we don't know." He added, "They have no papers, no documents," and declared, "this could be the greatest Trojan horse of all time."

MATT LAUER: [Y]ou pass the Statue of Liberty, right? And you look down at that statue, and you know the words on the base of that statue? It's not a pop quiz. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." You said Syrian refugees fleeing conflict in their country, the ones who come here, they're going back. They're all going back.

[...]

DONALD TRUMP: But, there's a good example. We have a president that said 3,000, then it was 5,000, then it was 10,000 -- now he wants to bring in 250,000 people, who nobody even knows who they are, other than -- and I watched the migration very carefully. They're young, strong men. I keep saying "Where are the women, where are the children?" You don't see that many women, you don't see that many children. Now we're going to take in 250,000 people, they're coming from areas we don't know. They have no papers, no documents -- this could be the greatest Trojan horse, it probably isn't. But this could be the greatest Trojan horse of all time. We're going to take them and put them in our country. [NBC, 10/26/15]

Trump's Claim Is Another Example Of Right-Wing Media Drafting His Talking Points

Trump Parrots Rush Limbaugh To Argue That 40 Percent Of Americans Are Unemployed. Trump exaggerated the nation's unemployment rate by nearly 800 percent during a Fox News appearance on July 15, telling Sean Hannity, "Somebody actually last week said we have a 40 percent unemployment, so I've been saying 19 to 21 percent, but somebody actually came out last week and said we have a 40 percent, and they might very well be right." Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly claimed that "the actual unemployment rate in the United States of America is not 5.5 percent ... It is 42.9 percent," citing a blog written by former Reagan administration official David Stockman. According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, June's unemployment rate stood at 5.3 percent. [Media Matters, 7/16/15]

Trump Parrots Breitbart.com To Claim "We Have 34 Million [Undocumented Immigrants] In This Country. Trump tripled the official estimate of America's undocumented immigrant population during a July 8 interview on CNN's The Lead, claiming, "We have 34 million [undocumented immigrants] in the country. I used to hear 11, now I hear it's 34 million." The real number of undocumented immigrants is nearly 20 million less -- experts confirm that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. actually hovers around 11 million, according to a Washington Post analysis that compared Census, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Pew Research Center data. Trump appears to have relied on an old, long-debunked report from conservative website Breitbart.com. [Media Matters, 7/16/15]

Trump Parrots Right-Wing Myth That Bill Clinton Banned Carrying Of Guns On Military Bases. Discussing his views on gun safety regulations in a July 7 interview with Ammoland.com, Trump revived conservative media's false claim that former President Bill Clinton banned guns on military bases. He said, "President Clinton never should have passed a ban on soldiers being able to protect themselves on bases." Trump's misinformation originated from conservative media's attempt to blame Clinton for the 2013 mass shooting at Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard facility, based on a March, 1993 Army regulation they claimed banned the carrying of guns on military bases. In fact, the 1993 regulation came from a 1992 directive issued under former President George H.W. Bush -- which actually allows guns to be carried on military bases under a substantial number of circumstances. [Media Matters, 7/16/15]

Trump Has Repeatedly Pushed Birther Myths Surrounding President Obama. "I really don't know" where President Obama was born, Trump declared in a July 9 interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. This accusation follows years of the candidate teaming up with Fox News to push absurd conspiracy theories, particularly the claim that Obama had not released a valid birth certificate and may have been hiding the fact that he was not born in America. [Media Matters, 7/16/15]

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