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The Snitch is Back And FOX News Is There To Help His Credibility (Updated)

Reported by Ellen - March 10, 2006

Last night (3/9/06), Hannity & Colmes shoved the UAE ports story (the top news in every other media outlet I checked) to the middle of the hour and made Jay Bennish the top story again. For those who may have missed it, Jay Bennish is a Colorado teacher who was taped by his student, Sean Allen, whose father turned the tape over to a right-wing talk show host. Mr. Allen, a budding stand-up comedian whose idea of a joke involves hitting a Jehovah’s Witness over the head with a Bible, has holes in his story big enough to drive a shipping container through but FOX News has consistently ignored them the same way it ignores the vulnerability of our ports. As the focus remains on demonizing Bennish, I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the attention has been deflected away from Bush's missteps.

Hannity & Colmes has spent five nights focusing on this issue yet “fair and balanced” FOX News has hosted only one student from the school on H&C – Mr. Allen of the contradictory explanations. No teachers, no parents (other than Mr. Allen’s Mommy who accompanied him one night) and no administrators have been interviewed, either. We had three nights of Allen, one night with Bennish’s attorney and last night with two political pundits. There have been no education experts, no reporters to provide some larger context or broader facts.

In my 3/8/06 post, I listed a number of Allen’s dubious assertions that have gone unchallenged. Last night, Bob Beckel raised some of those questions but FOX News had Allen’s back in his absence. It posted three biased banners in support of Allen during the segment.

The first of the biased banners read “Sophomore Sean Allen recorded lecture for his notes.” In fact, Allen has provided conflicting stories about why he recorded the lecture. In two of his three Hannity & Colmes appearances, Allen claimed it was for the purpose of taking notes and that the reason he only taped 20 minutes of the class was because that was the only lecture part. But a transcript of Allen's tape indicates that he spoke up and had a discussion with Bennish during this so-called lecture. In another interview, Allen readily admits that he was disturbed by what he called Bennish’s "political rants." When Alan Colmes asked Allen why he didn’t take his concerns directly to the teacher, Allen claimed he felt too intimidated. But he obviously wasn’t too intimidated to argue with Bennish in class, as the transcript shows.

The second biased banner said, “Bennish is being investigated for his anti-Bush comments.” That’s flat wrong. As ABC News (which DID speak to someone in charge of administration) reported, Bennish is being investigated for possibly providing an unbalanced presentation of the issues. But if FOX News posted that banner, the viewers might not have known that part of the reason to dislike Bennish is because he's a liberal.

The third biased banner was misleading at best: “Bennish’s Bush Critique Sparked Walkout of Approx 150 Students.” Bennish’s SUSPENSION sparked a walkout of more than a hundred students. An unspecified number described as “a group” staged what was termed “a counterrally.” FOX News has put up this misleading banner for at least three of the five Allen/Bennish discussions.

There will almost surely be at least one more segment on this. Another banner said, “District plans to announce investigation results tomorrow.”

If you'd like to contact FOX News about this, you can email them at

comments@foxnews.com

hannity@foxnews.com

colmes@foxnews.com

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