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FOX News Observes Martin Luther King Day By Mounting Another Attack On His Close Friend, Harry Belafonte.

Reported by Ellen - January 17, 2006

I suspect that, like me, most Americans do not give much thought to what Harry Belafonte might be saying or doing on any given day but on FOX News, they obsess over it. Ever since he had the nerve to visit Venezuela and exercise his First Amendment rights by calling President Bush a terrorist, Belafonte has replaced Louis Farrakhan as the African-American uber villain – at least for the time being. Last night (1/16/06), Hannity & Colmes did the third discussion in one week on Belafonte. That’s more coverage than Osama bin Laden, Ariel Sharon or Iran, combined.

Last night’s story was about Belafonte’s appearance at Duke University “at an event observing Martin Luther King’s birthday,” as Alan Colmes described it in his introduction. Colmes made a point of commemorating King by noting that he had been the victim of government wiretaps, the topic of the previous two discussions, and added that Belafonte was a close friend and confidante of King. But that was it for King. The rest of the discussion was about Belafonte and the “flak” over Belafonte’s appearance at Duke.

The guest was Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at Duke University, John Burness. Sean Hannity spent his entire portion of the interview attacking Burness for not condemning Belafonte. “Listen, I advocate free speech… I don’t want to silence anybody’s opinions. (Belafonte) has the right to be ignorant. But you can also have the moral courage to speak out and say that when he says the American president that’s out there liberating women and children and taking on tyrants – whether you agree or disagree with the war – to call him a terrorist when he’s leading our troops in harm’s way, you can have the moral courage to say that such comment is ignorant.”

Burness answered that he didn’t think that was the issue.

Hannity interrupted to say “So you don’t have the moral courage.” With his bully-boy squint, Hannity notched up the vituperation. “Hear what I’m saying. I’m asking whether or not it’s ignorant for somebody to call our president a terrorist when he’s out there fighting back after we were attacked. Why can’t you agree with that simple, simple basic principle?”

Burness was really a very good guest and his calm, unflustered responses made Hannity look more brutish.

Funny thing about Hannity’s Hanctimony. It doesn’t seem to extend to Democratic presidents or vice presidents. In the previous segment, about Al Gore’s speech that day, Hannity couldn’t say one respectful word about either Clinton or Gore. For example:

What would election season be like without Al Gore shrieking at the top of his lungs?

Smiling with mean-spirited glee, Hannity deliberately tried to make Gore look hysterical by playing a montage of him speaking in impassioned tones. Afterward, Hannity sarcastically asked the Democratic guest, “Aren’t you proud of him?”

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