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Sean Hannity Squelches African-American Perspective

Reported by Ellen - September 13, 2005

Sean Hannity once again demonstrated a lack of racial sensitivity when he refused to allow civil rights attorney Keith Watters to speak for the vast majority of African-Americans who feel that race played a role in Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. It was a segment that was supposedly about just that but Hannity, who claimed elsewhere in the program that he was "nauseated" by the politicization of the hurricane, nevertheless interrupted every one of Watters' responses with an attack against the Democratic mayor of New Orleans. One could only conclude that Hannity's real queasiness was about taking an honest look at the race issue.

Hannity started by asking Watters whether a recent comment by Jesse Jackson was appropriate. Watters answered, "These poor black people were left stranded in the city when federal government had resources readily available and they didn't deliver the resources and I think people died because of this and these are tough questions that need to be answered."

Hannity interrupted to say that there were "tons" of buses "sitting there... (Watters tried to speak up but Hannity wouldn't let him) and the mayor of New Orleans didn't use them and I agree it's a disgrace that they didn't help these people out."

Watters said there will probably be "blame to go around." But "this wouldn't have happened in Florida, especially in a presidential election year."

Hannity interrupted again. His hand was chopping the air, his head slanting at a more acute angle than usual, signalling that he was about to go on the attack. "So you think it's race-related (which Watters had not said)? You think race is the factor that the New Orleans mayor didn't use the buses?"

Watters: I think the response would have been different if these were white people in a state like Florida...

Hannity didn't let him complete the thought and quite deliberately turned the discussion away from what Watters was talking about. "So the mayor of New Orleans would have used his own buses had the people had been white?"

Watters repeated that he thought there was "blame to go around" but "the federal government gets a zero."

Once again, Hannity diverted the conversation without allowing Watters to finish what he was saying.

Turning to conservative African-American columnist Star Parker who was also a participant in the segment, Hannity said that he thought the buses were there, at the mayor's disposal. He added, in a voice rising with indignation, "There's no Democratic criticism here."

Comment: Not only wouldn't Hannity allow Watters to speak, Hannity obviously hadn't bothered to listen, either. Otherwise, he would have known that Watters had just said twice that there was blame to go around.

Parker spoke at length, and without a single interruption, about "the race card." Then she showed how out of touch she is with mainstream African Americans when she said, "What's news in this, Sean, is for the first time in these folks lives... they saw what America is really all about. They saw mainstream America care for them. They poured in their monies. They poured in their love. They poured in their help."

Comment: That's most definitely not what the black community saw. According to a recent Pew Research poll 66 percent of blacks think that the government's response to the crisis would have been faster if most of the storm’s victims had been white. 71 percent said the disaster shows that racial inequality remains a major problem in the country. Watters, not Parker, clearly represented the mainstream view.

By cutting Watters off and refusing to listen to him, Hannity suppresed the voice of the African-American community in favor of promoting his "blame the mayor" agenda.

Nauseating, indeed.

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