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News Hounds to FOX News and Sean Hannity: Be Man Enough To Admit The Truth About Schiavo Doctor

Reported by Ellen - March 23, 2005

Yesterday, we posted evidence that Sean Hannity misrepresented the credentials of Dr. William Hammesfahr, who appeared on Hannity & Colmes Monday night, 3/21/05, and gave the Hannity-pleasing opinion that Terri Schiavo is "like a child with cerebral palsy" who "absolutely" can be rehabilitated and talk one day. As I posted yesterday, Sean Hannity stated several times in a FOXNews.com transcript that Dr. Hammesfahr had been nominated for a Nobel prize when, in fact, he had not been formally nominated. According to Media Matters, Hannity repeated the claim eight times during the course of the interview.

Now, new allegations have arisen further casting Dr. Hammesfahr's credibility into doubt. Yet according to Deborah's post and the FOXNews.com website, neither Hannity nor FOX News have made any move to alert the public about these highly relevant facts of the guest they presented as a credible expert.

According to mediamatters.org,

In February 2003, the Florida Board of Medicine ruled that (Dr. Hammesfahr) violated state law by charging a patient for services that were not provided (Finding of Fact No. 71, PDF p. 40). The board fined Hammesfahr $2,000, placed him on probation for six months, and ordered him to pay approximately $52,000 in administrative costs and to perform 100 hours of community service. While the board also ruled that Hammesfahr's treatment of stroke patients, using a procedure he has claimed could help Terri Schiavo, was "not within the generally accepted standard of care" (Finding of Fact No. 55, PDF p. 33), it declined to rule that the treatment was harmful to his patients and noted that some patients improved after treatment.

Did Hannity simply fail to check the background of his guest or did he not care about the ethical questions about someone espousing a sympathetic point of view?

Yesterday, the News Hounds received a gmail addressed to us as well as Hannity providing the information about Hammesfahr's "nomination." So we know that Hannity has learned of Hammesfahr's misrepresenation about his nomination.

Did Hannity not care? How else to explain the fact that the transcript of the Monday night interview with Hammesfahr remains on the FOXNews.com site, with four references to the nomination (Note: I erroneously posted yesterday that there were three). No correction has been posted nor is there any information provided about Dr. Hammesfahr's other ethical challenges that cast doubt on his credibility. In fact, the headline of the transcript makes him sound authoritative: "A Doctor Who Has Examined Terri Talks with Hannity & Colmes."

Is this the same Sean Hannity and FOX News that so berated Dan Rather for using biased, untrustworthy sources? For example:

Hannity: There is a ton of circumstantial evidence (of CBS bias). They went to obvious political operatives like Lieutenant Colonel Burkett, who was visible, an outspoken critic of President Bush. Then they went to Ben Barnes, a well-known supporter and a huge fundraiser for John Kerry. It's clear that they had a political agenda here. You cannot do that unless you have a political agenda. Your journalistic ethics would forbid you from doing otherwise. (my emphasis)

...Dan Rather was out there in front. Now I know he announced his retirement but he doesn't seem to be paying any price in all of this... You look at Jayson Blair. You look at "The New York Times." You read "The New York Times" editorials. You see this particular case, I believe clearly political.

...It is so transparent to me that this is why people have found those alternative sources of information. I believe, and tell me if I'm nuts, talk radio has become popular to fill a void of bias and political agendas like this. You look at Jayson Blair. You look at "The New York Times." You read "The New York Times" editorials. You see this particular case, I believe clearly political. And I think talk radio, FOX News, the bloggers, Matt Drudge, all successful because this is institutionalized at the networks. 1/11/05 Hannity & Colmes

Comment: What a case of the pot calling the kettle black! A truly fair and balanced news network would admit their mistake and let their audience know the truth about their guest - and stop attacking other news outlets for similar mistakes.

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