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Washington Post CARTOON OUTRAGE (Updated)

Reported by Ellen - February 4, 2006

In yet another discussion on Hannity & Colmes last night (2/3/06) about the controversy over the Washington Post cartoon by Tom Toles showing a quadruple amputee, the “we report, you decide” network gave its viewers a not-so-subliminal hint about what should be decided when it put on the screen for most of the segment, ‘CARTOON OUTRAGE.’

For a change, the sole guest was a liberal – cartoonist Ted Rall.

Sean Hannity was up on his bully-boy high horse and ready to ambush Rall with some old cartoon he did about Pat Tillman. But first, Hannity must have thought he’d soften up Rall with some Hannity harangues. It didn’t work. For example, with maximum Hanctimony, Hannity asked Rall if he had ever visited any wounded troops. “I have,” Hannity said, dripping with self-superiority (though he has yet to travel overseas, as Al Franken has, to visit the troops he claims to love so much). “This is exactly the injuries they have,” Hannity announced.

Rall adeptly answered that he hadn’t visited the troops but turned it around by asking, “And have you asked them about this cartoon?”

“I have not.” Hannity sputtered a bit as he realized Rall may have scored a point on him. When he recovered, Hannity did a 360 and commanded, “Forget about THEM.” But then he went right back to browbeating Rall for not caring about the troops.

Unfortunately for Hannity’s vanity, Rall was neither impressed nor intimidated by the theatrics. As Rall continued to argue his point that the cartoon was about how the military command has not done right by the troops, Hannity became more thuggish and ridiculous by the second. In what may be the most blatant example of a pot calling a kettle black ever to hit television airwaves, Hannity proclaimed to Rall, “Here’s what YOU’RE MISSING… The reason you have the right to be mean in your cartoons and Toles has a right to be mean and insensitive in his cartoons is because of people like this.” Channeling Joseph McCarthy, Hannity waved the cartoon page accusingly at Rall. “…that literally put their lives on the line so you have the right to free expression and you insult them and use them as props so YOU can make your left-wing political points.”

It just wouldn’t be a Hannity & Colmes debate without a Hannity ambush and last night was no exception. Hannity's intended gotcha moment came when he put on the screen some old cartoon of Rall’s about Pat Tillman. I’m not sure what it was supposed to illustrate because there were too many panes, the print was too small, and it wasn’t on the screen long enough to read. But whatever it said, Rall was not “gotten.” He called it “another ridiculous, cheesy ambush on this show… You’re out of control.”

The yelling kept up until Colmes intervened to take his turn. Colmes noted that we’re supposedly fighting to protect our freedoms in Iraq, a country that was not a threat to us, yet the Joint Chiefs of Staff (who wrote an official letter of protest to the Washington Post cartoonist) wrote “a chilling letter” trying to infringe on our freedoms here at home.

Rall said it WAS a chilling letter and that there was a lot of truth to the cartoon, that a large number of deaths had occurred because of faulty armor. “It’s not about using a veteran as a prop, it’s about making a point using a solid graphic in a way a syndicated column could not.”

As the music started to end the segment, Hannity, who apparently felt he had not gotten all the mileage he was entitled to out of the Tillman ambush, wagged his finger at Rall and said, “What you said about Pat Tillman was disgraceful.”

Rall was still unintimidated. “There you go again. You’re unbelievable.”

“You don’t have a soul. You ought to apologize to his family that are suffering… You’re a disgrace. You’re a disgraceful human being.”

Rall’s parting shot was, “Don’t you have anything to say that’s original? This is exactly what you said last year.”

UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the video.

Ted Rall has comments about his appearance on his blog. Rall claims that the H&C producer made several promises, including that Ralls would only be talking about the Washington Post cartoon. Ralls wrote:

I certainly lit into Hannity, but that's not the point. The point is, if you go onto that show, you cannot trust their producer. If they tell you you're there to discuss a cartoon, they may ambush you with anything and anyone they want... I'm warning you now.

Comment: I can't know what promise was made to Rall (both Hannity and Colmes insisted that no promises are ever made to guests) but I do know that Hannity always ambushes his guests somehow. That is perhaps the most infuriating aspect of him; he seems incapable of a fair fight. The second most infuriating thing is that nearly every guest seems surprised by it. Not only is it no surprise that Hannity would ambush a guest, his ambush tactic is pretty predictable. Rall even noted that Hannity's ambush during this appearance was exactly the same as he did during Rall's last one.

I do hope Rall goes on H&C again, but this time armed with the foreknowledge of what is likely to happen, and confronts Hannity's consistently slimy theatrics.

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