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Prima Donna Sean Hannity Needs A New Act

Reported by Ellen - September 21, 2005

Somebody should tell Sean Hannity to get with the program - that nobody (well, nobody except Hannity, it seems) thinks that the federal government is an innocent victim of Democratic finger-pointing over hurricane-relief failures. Actually, several somebodies have told him. They include Bill Frist, Newt Gingrich, and now Louisiana Republican Congressman Billy Tauzin. Yet, like an aging actor who can't face up to the fact that he's no longer star material, Hannity refuses to give up trying to divert blame from the Bush Administration with his increasingly desperate-looking attacks against Democrats. Last night's performance featured the same old, disproven GOP talking points from several weeks ago leveled against a new target - Senator Mary Landrieu.

The very introduction for the segment set up the attack against Landrieu. Referencing her statement that she would punch anyone who criticized a Louisiana official working on hurricane relief, including President Bush, Alan Colmes asked, "Should the senator take back her comments?" In his opening question to Congressman Tauzin, Colmes asked if Tauzin took Landrieu's remarks seriously. It was clear from Colmes' tone that he couldn't take the opening question seriously.

Republican Tauzin sided with Democrat Landrieu. Refusing to blame the local officials, Tauzin said that what went wrong was a lack of cooperation between state, local and federal officials and that it has to be corrected.

As usual, Hannity ignored the guest's comments and used the segment as a platform for his own soliloquy. Head tilted, his sincere expression in place, Hannity was ready for a repeat performance of the by-now hackneyed (and discredited) attacks against the Democrat du jour, in this case Senator Landrieu.

Rather than come up with some original material against his latest villain, Hannity just recycled the same script he used on the last ones - the mayor and governor of Louisiana. In the all-too-familiar Act One, Hannity demonizes Democrats for politicizing the hurricane-relief response. "Mary Landrieu and the mayor, in particular, and the governor, in particular, have been out there pointing fingers all over the place. She, worse than most of them from the get go... We've known for 30 years that this could happen. Don't they ever say 'we messed up here?' I never heard that from her. I find her remarks quite offensive."

Tauzin said everybody made mistakes and gave, as an example, FEMA which, he said, was mandated in 1997 and 1999 to do an evacuation strategy that was never implemented.

When the outrage didn't work, Hannity changed to an "aw shucks" tone for Act Two in which it's all the Democrats' fault. "I, I got to be honest. I just look at the obvious. I look at buses that weren't used. I look at Amtrak trains that were offered that weren't used. I look at The Red Cross that was shut out from the people that needed them the most at the convention center and they had food and water and supplies. And, you know, this isn't George Bush's fault for the very people that are blaming George Bush are the ones that I think had the most warning a) that this was coming five days prior and b) that this catastrophe could exist and we've known that for 30 years." (Comment: I have repeatedly pointed out the errors and untruths as Hannity has repeated them. See, for example, my post about the previous night's show and Media Matters' excellent review of Hurricane Katrina coverage and spin.

Like nearly every other guest for whom Hannity has tried out his act, Tauzin didn't buy it. He said that federal authorities also had a chance to plan a better evacuation strategy and dropped the ball, that it has taken too long to build a levee.

Hannity dropped the subject. But, in a discussion with Colmes at the end of the show, Hannity made an encore attack against Democrats for politicizing the hurricane. In Hannity's play, there is no Act Three. Acts One and Two simply repeat themselves forever.

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