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FOX News Milks The Patrick Kennedy Story And The Democrats Let It Happen

Reported by Ellen - May 6, 2006

Hannity & Colmes completely ignored the resignation of Porter Goss, head of the CIA, yesterday (5/5/06) and spent the first 36 minutes of its hour-long show discussing Patrick Kennedy and the news that he will check himself into drug rehab. It seemed an obvious feint to me, deliberately designed to draw attention away from the troubles of the Bush Administration but the two Democratic guests, Ellis Henican and Rich Masters fell for the ploy and even assisted it.

Sean Hannity claimed, “I only wish (Kennedy) well, personally.” Oh, sure he does. That’s why Ann Coulter and Karen Hanretty were chosen to represent Republicans on the panel. Coulter and Hanretty seemed to be in competition for who could utter the shrillest insults in the shortest period of time. I think it was a toss up.

Coulter might have won had she not been overcome with emotion for poor Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay, those undeserving victims of politically-motivated prosecutors who never go after Democrats. They “never have to worry about this,” Coulter said in an emotional voice. According to her, Limbaugh simply had “a back problem.”

I suspect Ann Coulter’s emotion had something to do with the fact that she, herself, may be facing felony charges – for voter fraud. Not only that, her bizarre and incoherent performance on Hannity & Colmes last December indicates she may have a substance abuse problem as well. All the while she was throwing stones at Kennedy, neither Henican nor Masters questioned why she was getting a pass from FOX News.

Hanretty went straight to attacking Patrick Kennedy and she chewed on him and the Kennedy family all night (except when she threw in the predictable comparison to Cynthia McKinney). "He's a man who thinks he's above the law just like a lot of Kennedy's think they're above the law and he gets away with it."

FOX News contributor Ellis Henican (and a former News Hounds top dog, I’m sorry to say) and Rich Masters did a serviceable job of defending Kennedy but they seemed to miss the larger point, that there’s no good reason for Democrats to be defending Kennedy for more than a half hour when they ought to be pushing for the focus on Bush and the really important issues facing our country. Or at least addressing the fact that the real agenda here was to bash Democrats, not analyze Kennedy. Even worse, Henican and Masters kept finding reasons – and voicing them – to agree with Hannity that Kennedy may not have deserved the "special treatment" he got and that he may have lied about his substance abuse.

Did Hannity, Hanretty or Coulter appreciate that gesture and meet them halfway for any kind of accord? Of course not!

Coulter played out her usual cutesy/angry routine that is ordinarily reserved for Alan Colmes but which last night also included Henican. When Colmes said that former Congressman John Kasich told him the night before that any and all members of Congress would have been treated with the same kid gloves, Coulter shouted in her intemperate way, "Have I said anything about that? You're arguing against something no one is saying." She giggled at her own cleverness. In fact, the issue of fairness was exactly what had been discussed, including by Coulter, herself.

"Have some decency," Henican told Coulter.

"Quiet, I'm speaking," Coulter said to Henican, who, inexplicably, stayed quiet. Looking poutily into the camera, Coulter made the inane statement, "We have Ellis Henican stating on TV that Rush Limbaugh was in PARKING LOTS (Coulter’s voice turned dramatic again) buying drugs. That is as true as me saying that Patrick Kennedy killed six people last night." She sat back, obviously convinced of her own adorableness.

Hannity disputed the notion that Kennedy had taken personal responsibility for his actions by going into rehab for his medication addiction because someone had claimed to see him in a bar drinking.

That would have been a perfect moment for Henican to question whether the real issue was Kennedy or the opportunity to bash a Democrat. But instead, he said, "Here's the reality. Addicts do bad stuff."

Coulter looking bored while the attention was off her, fidgeted with the oversized cross around her neck. "He's a Kennedy. Of course he was drunk," the ostentatiously Christian Coulter said.

Predictably, Hannity brought up Chappaquiddick.

Henican played right into Hannity’s game plan again. "I think you've got a much better argument on Chappaquiddick… Something really bad happened there and there's still a lot of lingering questions."

Finally, 25 minutes into the show, Colmes gave Henican and Masters the opening they should have made for themselves. "Do you have to be the vice president of the United States shooting your friend in the face in order not to get a sobriety test? Is THAT what has to happen for there to be special treatment?"

Rich Masters briefly picked up the ball and brought up Bush's special treatment when he got a DUI in Kennebunkport, Maine. "Why? Because he came from a political family. Because he's from a powerful family."

Masters could have and should have, in my view, gone on to mention the involvement of Neil Bush, the president’s brother, in the Silverado Savings & Loan scandals (for which he escaped indictment) as well as Dick Cheney’s two DUI's that nobody on H&C ever seems to care about. If nothing else, Masters should have asked why they were talking about Kennedy and not Jack Abramoff or his ties to President Bush and other Republicans?

At 31 minutes into the show, Colmes provided another opportunity that neither Masters nor Henican exploited. Colmes asked Hanretty about Alberto Gonzales helping then-governor Bush get off jury duty in order to avoid having to disclose his earlier drunk driving conviction. "Isn't that the kind of special treatment you're talking about? And isn't Rich right when he says if you are a political, influential family this can happen? It certainly happened to the Bushes. And it may have also happened to Dick Cheney."

Hanretty refused to discuss it. Instead, she responded that Patrick Kennedy is "a serial lawbreaker." Colmes pressed her for an answer about Gonzales but neither Henican nor Masters broke in to press along with him.

Even worse, Masters turned down the opportunity when it was handed to him on a silver platter (to borrow one of Hannity’s favorite phrases) by Colmes. "Alberto Gonzales got a promotion, Rich Masters. Look what he does for a living now, after he helped Bush keep that under wraps ten years ago."

Masters not only didn’t run with the opportunity to harp on that and other ways that Republicans have skirted the law, he ran right back to the subject Hannity and Hanretty wanted to discuss. “Rich, powerful people have always gotten special treatment… So was there special treatment of Patrick?"

Henican likewise blew his chance and carried out Hannity’s agenda for him by going back to talking about addiction being the real level playing field.

"Let's hope that Teddy Kennedy can loan him that fake neck brace," Coulter said.

Near the end of the discussion, Hannity asked, "Should the police arrest (Patrick Kennedy)?"

Masters replied, "If they can prove he was drinking and he was drunk, just like anyone else who breaks the law, he absolutely should be arrested."

Henican added, "Rich is absolutely right about that. Absolutely right."

NOTE TO READERS: This thread is about FOX News' coverage of the Patrick Kennedy story and/or coverage of this vs. other issues in the current news. I am not interested in any re-hashing of Chappaquiddick or Ted Kennedy's drinking problem UNLESS it is with regard to coverage in the media and media coverage only. Analysis of Democratic vs. Republican spin is particularly welcome. Diversions into possible felony charges against Ann Coulter and/or any substance abuse problem she may have are definitely allowed.

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