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Cindy Sheehan Brings Out The Worst in Hannity

Reported by Ellen - September 27, 2005

For quite some time, I have been saying that Sean Hannity is not interested in much of what his guests say other than as a platform for his own talking points. He admitted as much last night during an interview with anti-war protester Ted Lewis, from Global Exchange. Insisting that Lewis focus on the "extremism" of Cindy Sheehan rather than the anti-war protest in Washington last weekend, Hannity's boorish bullying reached new lows when he told Lewis, "I don't care about your thoughts." Lewis' calm but adept answers, coupled with some telling facts provided by Alan Colmes, made Hannity's bluster look more like blowback. In my opinion, he wound up coming across as the irrational blow-hard he was accusing the other side of being.

Hannity opened the segment by playing a series of clips from the protest. They seemed chosen to make the protesters look out of the mainstream - Ramsey Clark talking about impeachment and saying that Iraq wasn't a threat even if they had WMD's, a yelling black woman (nothing seems to rattle Hannity more than activist African-Americans), crowds chanting that Bush is a liar and a coward, etc. When the clips were over, Hannity snidely commented, "THAT does a lot of good." Then, rather than have any kind of real discussion, he went on the attack against Cindy Sheehan and his guest, Lewis.

I have repeatedly wondered whether Hannity is capable of having a substantive discussion without resorting to the cheap tactics of a bully. Last night's show was further evidence that he is not. Smiling meanly at Lewis, Hannity said, "You know what, I just think it makes Alan's side look better and better every time they open their mouths. Calling the president a facist, the Fuhrer, liar, murderer, terrorist. Well, that's pretty much what Cindy Sheehan has been saying. America's not worth dying for, it's been taken over by thugs..." Putting on his sincere expression, Hannity asked, "Are you willing to align yourself with all that radical extremism?"

Lewis answered pleasantly and wisely avoided Hannity's trick question. "Good evening, Sean. You know, I saw a different kind of protest out there." He talked about how affecting it was to see so many Iraq war veterans talking about why they are disillusioned with the war.

That bothered Hannity who was obviously bent on one thing only and that was attacking Cindy Sheehan. He repeated his offensive "when did you stop beating your wife" line of questioning as he climbed on his high horse. "I honestly... I don't care about your thoughts. You can tell them to Alan... I'm asking you this (self-righteous anger rising in his voice): Cindy Sheehan said George Bush is the biggest terrorist in the world. Cindy Sheehan said America is not worth dying for. Cindy Sheehan said... Do you support those radical statements, sir?"

Lewis again cleverly avoided the trap which more people should be able to do because Hannity uses the trick "Do you support..." question every time his side is down. Lewis replied, "I think Cindy Sheehan's done a great job of waking up a lot of people around America."

"Curses, foiled again," I imagine Hannity was thinking. He stepped up the aggression. "And you support those statements? You agree with those statements? You want to call the president of the United States a terrorist? The world's biggest terrorist?"

Lewis' unflappable manner only served to underscore Hannnity's boorishness. "Look, I think if Cindy Sheehan said certain things - I think what we need to listen to is the heart of her mesage. The heart of her message is that this war is a mistake."

Hannity interrupted to demand, "I'm not looking for the heart of her message... Answer the question."

Lewis started to explain, "I wouldn't have said those things." (Hannity interrupted to say sarcastically, "Ah... finally.") Lewis continued, unflustered. "I think there's a better way to talk about these issues and to look clearly at the fact that this war has become a disaster for America."

Hannity became even more belligerant and, at the same time, suddenly pretended to care about the other side. "This is your left-wing radical taking over the Democratic Party and people like you, if you really believe what you're saying, need to distance yourselves from the extremists that were running this thing."

Comment: I hope Hannity will take his own advice later tonight when he hosts Ann "Too bad Timothy McVeigh didn't blow up the New York Times Building" Coulter. I'll be watching and waiting.

Lewis repeated his point which Hannity, with all his theatrics, had not addressed. "The heart of the issue here is that the Iraq war is a disaster for our country, that too many people have died and that we need to pull our country together and find a way out of this situation."

Then it was Alan Colmes' turn. He started out by saying, "It's not about Cindy Sheehan. It's not about those radical comments." He added that Sheehan told him on his radio show last week that she never said America is not worth dying for. She was referring to Iraq. When Colmes explained that her original statement had been a bit vague, Hannity interrupted with a rude, sarcastic, "Oops."

Colmes then got down to the incontrovertible facts that Hannity was clearly trying to avoid facing: That the demonstration drew more than 100,000 people, compared to about 400 counter protesters, and that the anti-war perspective represents more and more of the majority of Americans. "Only 37% approve of what the president's doing in Iraq." Colmes pointed out that strong disapproval of the war outweighs strong approval by two to one - 46-22%, according to the latest AP poll. "More and more Americans agree with those who showed up on the mall in Washington on Saturday."

Lewis agreed. "You're exactly right, Alan, and I think that's the point... Folks like Sean have to quit trying to distract us from the fact that the war has gone terribly wrong. Whatever the arguments were about getting into the war in the first place, the issue that's in front of us now is, how do we deal with this, how do we get out of what's becoming a deeper and deeper national disaster? ...The majority of people in the country have come around to the opinion that the reasons for getting into the war, the reasons for continuing the war just aren't right."

Hannity, seething with sarcasm, said, "Ted, the dictator's dead (News flash for Hannity: He's alive and in jail) and the world's better off whether you guys agree or not."

And the majority of Americans agree with Ted whether Hannity likes it or not. I'd say it's time for him to get over it.

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