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Hannity’s Latest Smear Tactics Against Keith Ellison: Distorting His Past To Make Him Seem An Anti-Semite

Reported by Ellen - January 5, 2007 -

Now that Congressman Keith Ellison has been sworn in with a Koran and the country has neither fallen apart nor risen up in rebellion, Sean Hannity took a new swipe at America’s first Muslim in Congress on last night's Hannity & Colmes (1/4/07). Apparently, Hannity couldn’t find any facts to use against Ellison so he twisted the truth instead. He was ably assisted in that regard by Dennis Prager, the talk show host who insisted that Ellison’s use of the Koran would “undermin(e) American civilization” and make us more vulnerable to terrorism. With video.

Prager’s abhorrent views caused the astonishing condemnation of him by the United States Holocaust Memorial Council’s Executive Committee. It was astonishing because Prager IS a member of the Council. He was appointed by President Bush to a five-year term. The White House has so far refused to remove him. The FOX News screen put up banners indicating that various groups have called for Prager’s removal (though Hannity and substitute host Bob Beckel didn’t mention it) but left out the Executive Committee’s censure.

Last night, Prager tweaked his radical views after having been publicly called on some of his inaccuracies. Prager’s original article stated “If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress.” But now that it has been pointed out that Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, John Quincy Adams and Lyndon Johnson have been sworn in without Bibles, Prager changed his story to say that his concern was replacing the Bible with another religious text. “All my concern was and remains that the Bible, which is the basis of America’s values – not the Constitution, the Bible – has been replaced with another religious text for the first time.”

Bob Beckel, substituting for Alan Colmes, gave a very effective rebuttal to Prager’s claims. Beckel argued, for example, that Prager’s views were a distortion of Christianity and that Jesus would have wanted non-Christians in our government.

Hannity must have sensed he was losing ground. So he interrupted Beckel and started with the untruths. The first one was, “This is the first time in American history that the Bible’s been excluded.” In addition to the three presidents, Media Matters notes that another incoming Congresswoman indicated she would not use a religious text. But neither Prager nor Hannity have mentioned any concerns with her.

Next, Hannity distorted Ellison’s past relationship with the Nation of Islam. “One of my biggest concerns, Dennis, on top of this – for what, 10 plus years he’s been associated with the Nation of Islam, a blatantly anti-Semitic, racist organization.” In fact, Ellison says his relationship to that organization was brief and he has long since denounced it. The BBC reported that “Ellison was supported in his run for Congress by National Jewish Democratic Council as well as a prominent Minneapolis Jewish newspaper, which endorsed him over his Republican rival Alan Fine, who is Jewish.”

Nevertheless, Prager agreed with Hannity and said, “You are right in raising this issue as well.” Prager bragged that he had “assiduously” avoided any critique of Ellison, himself.