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Sean Hannity Continues His Inappropriate Activism On Behalf Of Duke Lacrosse Defendants

Reported by Ellen - December 17, 2006 -

Sean Hannity never tires of complaining about judicial activism. Black's Law Dictionary defines it as allowing one's "personal views about public policy, among other factors, to guide decisions and ignore precedent." When it comes to Hannity’s own professional behavior, the sky’s the limit on any level of activism that might strike his fancy. The fact that he’s supposed to be the host of a debate show on a “fair and balanced” news network is no impediment either. Thus, on Friday night (12/15/06), Hannity & Colmes viewers were treated to another round of Hannity’s tireless activism on behalf of the rich, white Duke lacrosse players. Once again, college dropout Hannity provided “expert” commentary on the legal insufficiencies of the case, coupled with omissions of a few key facts that don’t make Hannity’s guys look so good.

Despite the fact that we’re at a crucial point in the “war on terror,” Hannity & Colmes devoted the first three segments of Friday’s show, nearly a half-hour of programming, to the “Big Duke Developments,” as the screen said. Readers can do an easy internet search to find out just what those developments were. I, for one, could not care less. But Hannity, aided and abetted by “Dr.” Megyn Kendall, can’t seem to get enough of every detail. Meanwhile, the specifics of the Iraq Study Group report have gone largely undiscussed on the show.

Megyn Kendall looked like she was about to jump up and down with excitement as she listed in nauseatingly explicit detail all the places the white guys’ DNA was not found on the accuser’s black body. Kendall’s advocacy for the defendants has been so strong that I have often wondered if she isn’t moonlighting on their behalf. In any event, I hope they send her a Christmas bonus. She has certainly earned it.

But at least Kendall is qualified to talk about legalities. Hannity just plays a detective on TV. “It’s almost spectacular in the amount of exculpatory evidence that has now been presented, Megyn, in this particular case here,” Hannity declared.

Kendall announced dramatically, “This is why you have a US Congressman pushing for an investigation of the defendants’ (all white, well-to-do college students) civil rights.”

A defense attorney was briefly on hand to say that while he has butted heads with Durham DA Michael Nifong in the past, in more than 20 years, he has never known Nifong to do anything unethical. It was a quick nod to FNC’s mission of balance. The attorney disappeared from the panel after speaking to Alan Colmes, only. In the attorney’s place was Freda Black, a former assistant to Nifong who was fired by him and ran against him. It wasn’t clear to me which event came first; regardless, she was not exactly an unbiased expert.

Hannity temporarily took off his crime-investigator’s hat and put on his judge’s robes. “I see no - zero - evidence in any capacity.” He pounded on the desk as he announced, “There will never be a conviction in this case.”

Another guest was a man named Ed Abbot, identified only as a family friend of one of the defendants, Reade Seligmann. In fact, Abbot is or was the mayor of Essex Fells, NJ, the upscale town in which Seligmann grew up. Abbot remained on the panel through all three segments.

Then the robes were off and Hannity was playing lawyer as he not-so-subtly suggested the Seligmann family take legal action against Nifong. “I’ve got to believe the families, considering all the exculpatory evidence, and all the abuse of power, are gonna go after Nifong, in whatever capacity, for prosecutorial abuse. Have they thought out a strategy?” Hannity asked.

In the middle of it all was a “step by step” video timeline. It began at the convenient-for-the-defendants’ time of 12:03 AM and left out the fact that the party and drinking had begun in the afternoon. Yet a tape and transcript of a 911 call about the accuser's apparent drunkenness was included. There were other facts omitted, too: that one of the defendants, Collin Finnerty, had been arrested less than a year before the alleged rape for assaulting and hurling homosexual insults at a man; that the Duke lacrosse team has a history of drinking-related arrests; that there have been 52 disciplinary incidents for lacrosse players since 2000-01. That doesn’t mean a rape occurred. But it does warrant reporting.

At the end, “Judge” Hannity was back on the bench. He ticked off on his fingers and squinted his eyes as he pronounced his verdict: “One year of these boys’ lives gone. No evidence. They ignored exculpatory evidence, and the process is about as corrupt as I’ve ever seen it. This will go away.”

Hannity could be right. It would be nice if he were to show the same kind of interest in justice for defendants of color, who are probably much more in need of help than the well-heeled, well-connected Duke students. It would be even better if he were to just do his job and make sure the audience gets all the facts.