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Hannity & Colmes Ignores Limbaugh, Debates Fox’s Role In Ad Controversy

Reported by Ellen - October 26, 2006 -

If you only watched Hannity & Colmes for your coverage of the controversy over Michael J. Fox’s stem cell ad, you could easily think that the furor was only over what Fox did and had little or nothing to do with the shocking comments made by Rush Limbaugh. Many people have condemned Limbaugh for accusing Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson’s disease symptoms for the sake of political gain. But those people were shut out from last night’s debate on Hannity & Colmes. The panel included two Fox critics who almost completely ignored Limbaugh’s role in the issues. One guest, Michael Reagan, went so far as to accuse his own family of having allowed themselves to be "exploited" into endorsing stem cell research.

The discussion started with an attempt by Sean Hannity to make the issue about himself. He played a clip of his appearance on Good Morning America, in which he discussed his criticism of Fox. Hannity neatly ignored what he, himself, referred to as the “bottom line” on GMA: Did Rush go too far? Interestingly, Hannity never said a flat-out “no” on ABC. Instead, Hannity came up with a number of reasons to criticize Fox and then pretend he only had the best wishes for him. "You have a right to speak up, but he also has a right to be criticized… There are some inaccuracies in the ad that need to be debated," Hannity said as though Limbaugh had focused on the issues, rather than a personal attack on Fox. Later, to prove what a swell guy he really is, Hannity said, "Everybody wants Michael J. Fox to get well. It is a difficult disease."

But good will only goes so far for anyone who might help Democrats. Hannity made the dubious accusation that Fox “(is) a guy that is very political,” implying that he was nothing more than a partisan hack.

In fact, I could find very little evidence of Fox’s participation in politics beyond his aggressive advocacy on behalf of stem cell research. But Hannity didn’t let a little thing like accuracy stop him from joining his pal Limbaugh in smearing a man in seriously poor health.

Guest Kirsten Powers fell right in with Hannity’s agenda. I’m glad to see they have stopped calling her a Democratic strategist because more often than not, she goes out of her way to agree with Republicans. Last night was no different. Allowing as how Limbaugh’s words were “a little out of balance because I think they probably weren’t right,” she quickly agreed with Hannity that the factual errors in Fox’s ad “need to be discussed.” She added, “What IS valid is to question what he said.” Then, a propos of nothing, she further offered, “I have a problem with the ad, personally, but, you know, I actually don’t support embryonic stem cell research and what this ad is basically saying is if you don’t support that, you want to see him suffer.” Her voice rose in indignation against Fox as she continued, “And that’s not true.” While Powers was busy focusing on the “validity” of Fox’s statements, she didn’t find it worth remarking that a neuroscientist had completely debunked Limbaugh’s accusations. Powers also showed no concern that partisan pundits should be attacking the medical advocacy of a seriously ill man.

Fortunately, Alan Colmes made at least some of the points she should have. He said to the other guest, Michael Reagan, “The core of this debate is that Rush Limbaugh accused Michael J. Fox of exploiting himself or allowing himself to be exploited and having his disease exploited for political purposes.” Colmes brought up how Reagan’s step-mother, Nancy Reagan, also supports stem cell research. “Was she allowing herself to be exploited when she spoke out against it?”

Reagan said she was. “Yes, as a matter of fact she was… As my brother Ron was using that issue when he spoke to the Democrat convention, using themselves to be exploited for this issue. You have a wife who wants to see her husband get well. She’s reaching out and people go to her and give her a line that somehow embryonic stem cell research is going to be the answer.”

Colmes said that the issue is not whether or not embryonic stem cell research works but whether it crossed the line to say that Democrats were exploiting Fox who’s a grown man.

Of course Reagan didn't think any line had been crossed. “The reality of it is, the Democrat party is, in fact, exploiting him to try and win the election coming up on November 7th.”

Unlike the pure motives of the Republicans, I’m sure.