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“Fair and Balanced” FOX News Censors Bush Criticism During Mine Explosion Discussion. Hannity to Bush Critic: Just Shut Up

Reported by Ellen - January 5, 2006

Last night’s Hannity & Colmes was devoted almost entirely to the West Virginia mine tragedy. For almost half the show, it seemed there would be nothing controversial, nothing partisan, nothing much for me to write about. Then Jack Spadaro, former director of the National Mine Safety and Health Academy, dared to criticize President Bush’s record on mine safety. Sean Hannity interrupted Spadaro’s discussion with Alan Colmes and moments later Spadaro was out of there.

Before he got cut off, Spadaro told Colmes that the mine, “particularly in the past year,” has been cited over 180 times for violations of federal mine, health and safety law and regulations. He said about 90 of those violations were called “serious and substantial violations of the law.” He called it a very unsafe mine with serious problems of ventilation and “roof control.”

Colmes asked, “Are you saying that these men should not have been allowed to go down there?”

“Yes, sir…This mine should have been closed.”

Colmes asked why the mine was open.

“I think it’s because of the current Bush Administration’s policies toward mine operators and their reluctance to take the strong enforcement action that’s sometimes necessary and that often involves closing a mine.”

That’s when Hannity broke in. “Jack, let’s not politicize this. I mean, already – what, do you wanna blame George W. Bush for this? Is that where you’re headed with this political question? I don’t think this is the time to go into that. There are certainly are (sic) issues. This mine was cited for over 200 violations – 46 during an 11 week period late in the year. They’ve been fined thousands of dollars. But I can’t see an instance where it was recommended that they close it.”

Spadaro replied, “Well, actually, there were three orders to close portions of the mine that were issued in the October to the December period and there HAS been a significant change since the Bush administration took over the enforcement of mine safety and health. I can speak to that because I worked in the agency and I talk with people every day who tell me that in recent years – particularly in recent months – there’s been a reluctance on the part of the top management at Mine Safety and Health Administration to enforce the law.

Hannity peevishly interrupted. “Look, we don’t have time tonight to get into this.” (In fact, they devoted almost the entire hour to the issue and this event occurred just 21 minutes into the hour.) “Nor do I think it’s appropriate. You clearly have a political agenda that, if I had enough time, I’m sure – I’m sure – I’m sure- I’m sure…”
Spadaro responded, “Well, you called me and asked me to make a comment and I’m telling you. What…”

“But you want to turn this into a political thing and we have families that are suffering tonight, sir.” Comment: Funny, but Hannity wasn’t so worried about the families suffering in Louisiana during the Katrina aftermath when he attacked the governor and New Orleans mayor night after night for failing to do THEIR job properly.

Spadaro continued, “I’m telling you what the truth is. And this is - the truth is that there are 180 violations that are serious.”

Oops, too much information for FOX News. The music started, thus ensuring that the discussion ended. Hannity, talking over Spadaro, said scornfully, “I know, you want to blame Bush like a lot of extreme left-wingers. Alright, go ahead. You got your point out.” Obviously, turning the discussion “into a political thing” is fine so long as you’re conservative.

I wonder what would happen if Colmes decided to end a discussion when a conservative guest “politicized” an issue by blaming Clinton for a news event involving the Bush Administration.

Note: Anyone interested in learning more about the Bush Administration’s record regarding mine safety might be interested in reading David Sirota's blog entry on this subject.

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