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Today’s Attack On A Black By Sean Hannity: Bryant Gumbel. Who’s Really Playing The Race Card?

Reported by Ellen - February 21, 2006

It seems like every week or so Sean Hannity is outraged at another African American for something: Coretta Scott King's family, Harry Belafonte and now Bryant Gumbel. Louis Farrakhan, Hannity’s all-time favorite black bashee, must be keeping very quiet these days because I haven’t seen any mention of him lately on Hannity & Colmes.

Just yesterday, Hannity complained about Arianna Huffington making a mountain out of a molehill with the Dick Cheney shooting. But the vice president shooting his pal under murky, secretive conditions is nothing compared to one comment by broadcasting personality Bryant Gumbel.

Alan Colmes started the discussion by reading Gumbel’s comment, made February 7, 2006. “Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the games look like a GOP convention.” Hannity and guest John McWhorter interpreted that comment as an attack on Republicans.

Michael Brown, Democratic Strategist, said that Republicans are over-sensitive on race issues and that the real issue is the way our country treats its athletes. He started to make the serious point that urban blacks are not usually exposed to anything but a few inner city sports whereas athletes in other countries get treated “like first class citizens” who get exposed to all sports.

But Hannity was not about to have his harangue against Gumbel (and the inevitable targets to follow – Democrats) aborted. Claiming he was not being overly-sensitive, Hannity started called Gumbel’s remarks “despicable” for “overtly playing the race card.”

“It’s inaccurate, number one,” Hannity continued. “It’s not productive, number two (not as productive as attacking the King family for its choice of funeral elegies, I guess.).”

Hannity then launched his usual defense of Bush on racial issues – he has hired “more African-Americans to higher positions than any other president,” which is just barely true - another example of Hannity feeling the need to goose the facts rather than rely on them. As Newsday reported (found via Media Matters) in a 2004 article called Bush Not Strong on Diversity, "Bush's overall record of diversity pales when compared to the standard set by his predecessor, President Bill Clinton."

Newsday noted that Bush assembled “the most diverse cabinet and top-level officials requiring Senate approval of any Republican president, creating a profile that nears the record-setting diversity of Clinton. But… just below those highly visible positions -- in the hundreds of little known but important appointments to senior executive posts that don't need Senate confirmation -- the diversity of the Bush administration fades.”

Even if what Hannity said were true, it’s really just a backhanded slap at African-Americans for not supporting Bush. Never mind the policies, Hannity seems to say, Blacks should support Bush because he’s as color-blind as he should be when it comes to appointments.

Guest John McWhorter interpreted Gumbel’s remark as saying “Republicans are anti-black” which he called “medication… an old-fashioned idea.”

Brown pointed out that he tried to get beyond the question of race and that McWhorter and Hannity kept harping on it. “You guys are overly sensitive about race in your party and you should be.”

That must have hit a nerve on Mr. Racially Sensitive Hannity because he immediately launched Harangue R, which stands for race. With his bully-boy squint and his hand jabbing the air, it didn’t take him long to morph the argument from Gumbel’s remarks into how unfairly Trent Lott was treated by blacks, with a bash at Democrats and Senator Robert Byrd along the way. “We’re not overly sensitive when you insinuate we’re racists (Who said that? Nobody.)… You’re not gonna get away with playing the race card, nor are we gonna let Bryant Gumbel get away with that… If Democrats can elect a former Klansman to be the head of the Senate and if Trent Lott makes a joke on a senator’s hundredth birthday, it’s a double standard.”

Brown was not only unruffled by the attack, he was amused. “You say the exact same thing every time.”

Hannity, frustrated that his bullying had failed to intimidate, launched into his all-purpose harangue: “You don’t have the moral courage to say anything about the Democrats.”

As Hannity ranted about playing the race card, Brown, perhaps sensing that he had gotten the best of the argument, grinned broadly and repeated that he had tried to put the focus on athletes but that Hannity kept bringing race into it.

“The use of racial politics is despicable,” Hannity said.

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