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FOX News’ Biased, Unbalanced Interest In Congressional Ethics

Reported by Ellen - November 26, 2006 -

FOX News’ Republican bias was once again plainly evident last Wednesday, November 22, 2006, as Hannity & Colmes discussed the possible appointment of Alcee Hastings as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. H&C has ignored nearly every Republican Congressional scandal (Bob Ney, Tom Noe, Jack Abramoff, Randy “Duke” Cunningham and, for the most part, Tom DeLay) and has welcomed DeLay and other tainted figures such as Bernard Kerik, Oliver North and Bob Bennett as unblemished analysts. But the show devoted a double-segment to questioning the ethics of Democrats and Nancy Pelosi for just considering an appointment that may never occur. With video.

Hastings, who was impeached as a judge in 1989 but acquitted of all criminal charges by a jury, was nonetheless declared “a crook” and compared to O.J. Simpson by Mike Gallagher, substituting for Sean Hannity. Apparently, FOX News management shared his contempt for our criminal justice system because, as Alan Colmes read a teaser for the upcoming segment, “Bribes & Lies” appeared on the screen.

“Impeachable Intelligence” was on the screen as Gallagher opened the discussion by saying that “Madame Pelosi first goes with Jack ‘Abscam’ Murtha and now she’s setting her sights on Alcee Hastings. Do you Democrats not have anybody who’s free of corruption and scandal to try to come up with leadership positions? What’s going on here?”

That was a perfect opening for the Democratic guest, Bob Beckel, to remind viewers that Tom DeLay remained Majority Leader despite many ethical challenges in his background (indeed, the Republican majority manipulated the Ethics committee to take it easy on him) and that Bob Ney remained in Congress even after pleading guilty to criminal charges related to the Jack Abramoff case. But Beckel, who is on the FOX News payroll, ignored those facts.

However, Beckel came up with another great answer. Acknowledging that he would prefer to see Jane Harman, the current ranking member, appointed Chairman, Beckel said, “I would rather see Alcee Hastings on his worst day than the Republicans who held this job for the last six years, whose responsibility was to protect the American people, who allowed the Bush administration to cherrypick intelligence that got us into a war we didn’t belong in. As far as I know, what Alcee Hastings did, nobody died.”

As “impeachable intelligence” remained on the screen, Gallagher disingenuously remarked to Republican strategist Karen Hanretty that “When Republicans discover a crook, we kick him to the curb, when Democrats find a crook, they not only keep re-electing him, but then they want him to be the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.”

Hanretty agreed that “Sure, there’s a higher standard, I think, that Republicans hold their own members to than the Democrats.”

After that deceitful statement, Hanretty launched into one of her typically shrill, shrewish attacks for which she has apparently won FOX News’ affection. “Why is it that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats and people like Bob Beckel are not out there defending Jane Harman… Are we to believe that Jane Harman is responsible for people dying because she sat on that committee?”

When it was Colmes’ turn, he reminded Hanretty that Harman was not the chairman of the committee during the run-up to the Iraq war and, once he got Hanretty to stop talking and let him get in a question, asked why Hastings’ acquittal was not good enough for her.

Hanretty kept up her high-pitched harping but she had no answer. As Beckel reiterated that Hastings had been acquitted, Hanretty sarcastically said, “That’s a really high ethical standard you have there. Congratulations.”

Colmes began the second part of the discussion by confronting Hanretty on her divisiveness. “All we’ve heard since Democrats have gotten elected to take over the House and the Senate, Karen, is how horrible Nancy Pelosi is, how horrible Alcee Hastings is, how horrible Steny Hoyer is. Don’t you have anything to offer in a way of a vision for the future of this country other than attacking any Democrat who might be up for a leadership position? Do you have anything else to offer here?”

Short answer: No. With a supercilious grin, Hanretty condescendingly spoke in the kind of sing-song voice you would use with a child. “Look, Nancy Pelosi set the standard herself… so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the loyal opposition… holding her accountable… It’s not the Republicans, it’s the New York Times, it’s all of the liberal media…”

Colmes pointed out (though it was easy to miss as he tried to get a word in edgewise during Hanretty’s non-stop prattle) that Pelosi hasn’t even taken office yet. “What are you offering the American public other than personally attacking Nancy Pelosi, Alcee Hastings, Steny Hoyer, John Murtha and anybody else that’s got that ‘D’ next to his or her name? What else you got?”

Nothing, apparently, because Hanretty said coquettishly (if you can imagine someone being shrewish and coquettish at the same time) that we’d have to wait to see “what the Republican leadership offers after the first of the year.”

Beckel broke in to say that “listening to Republicans talking about corruption on the Democratic side is like listening to Mel Gibson talk about religious tolerance.” He added that the reason that Republicans lost Congress was because of “massive corruption.”

Hanretty suddenly changed her tune “We lost the Congress because of ethical issues (she conveniently forgot the war in Iraq) and now we have what seems to be just this unbridled act of hypocrisy by Democrats taking over Congress and now appointing people who have their own ethical problems.” Unfortunately, nobody confronted Hanretty on the fact that she had just contradicted her earlier statement that Republicans have a higher standard on ethics. Nor did anyone mention that the acquittal Hastings received was more than Ney, Noe, Abramoff or even DeLay (so far) had to show.

Gallagher glibly asked “Have Democrats lost their minds?” for considering appointing Hastings as chairman. Comment: Can you imagine a Democrat asking such a thing about Republicans on FOX News? For example, a guest who had the temerity to question the Bush Administration's policies on mine safety was quickly silenced during a discussion about last year's WV mining disaster.

Beckel gave a great answer (though I wish he would have said it’s not as crazy as attacking a country that wasn’t a threat to the United States). “The Republican chairmens (sic) of those committees – two of them – did not do their oversight job and Alcee Hastings can do it in his sleep better than these guys did. Why? Cause they (unintelligible) for the Bush Administration so they could get us into a war we shouldn’t be in.”

Funny how Hanretty suddenly had nothing to say about that.