Hannity’s America Offers A Kinder, Gentler Brand Of McCarthyism
Reported by Ellen - January 8, 2007 -
Sean Hannity’s solo television show, Hannity’s America, debuted last night on FOX News. In every promo, FOX pledged "a different side of Sean." Gone were the bullyboy theatrics of Hannity & Colmes. In their place was an open-collar jocularity that I have to admit I enjoyed at times. But Hannity’s McCarthyesque intolerance for the American values of free speech and dissent were never far below the surface. Hannity even went so far as to label Sean Penn an “enemy of the state” for his views. Hannity stood before a backdrop with photos of Hugo Chavez, Kim Il Jong and what looked like Ahmadinejad on one side and Penn, Barbara Streisand, Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin on the other (screen shot below). The audience was promised a new enemy of the state each week.
The first segment was a lengthy interview with Cindy Sheehan called “Hot Seat” in which Hannity pledged to begin with five “yes or no” questions. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Hannity’s “interview” style probably cringed, as I did, with the expectation of a series of “Did you stop beating your wife, yes or no?” questions. But surprisingly, it was a reasonably fair, respectful and interesting interview.
That must have stretched the limits of Hannity’s tolerance for fair play. Next up was an in-depth report from William La Jeunesse designed to impugn Senator Harry Reid over a slice of pork he secured for a bridge. La Jeunesse implied that Reid’s purpose was to increase the value of nearby land he owned. An article in the LA Times is also critical of the bridge project. But it’s funny how Hannity and “fair and balanced” FOX News never get around to investigating any Republican pork nor, more importantly, the billions of dollars awarded to Dick Cheney’s cronies in Iraq, Halliburton.
Then came a slice of Hannity & Colmes but without Alan Colmes. Hannity claimed he was going “2 on 2” with his pal, hate-monger Mark Levin, against Democrats Jane Fleming (my favorite FOX News Democrat) and Michael Brown. But it's not an equal fight when only one side gets to play the role of moderator.
Levin never served in the military when he had the opportunity. Yet he squawked, as usual, that liberals are not bellicose enough for his tastes. “The fact of the matter is, the liberals not only oppose this war, they oppose defending the homeland… They oppose detaining the enemy, they oppose interrogating the enemy.” With his whiny voice, Levin interrupted nearly everything Brown said, then complained “I have this clutter of liberalism in my ear.” No objection from moderator Hannity.
In the next segment, there was a hint that Hannity may be hoping to displace Colmes from his co-anchor position. The guest was Elisabeth Hasselbeck from The View. Hannity asked her how she puts up with Rosie O’Donnell. Hasselbeck replied, “A little bit of competitive nature helps and I like a little sparring action. So, and Rosie and I, despite our differences, are actually pretty good friends. And I think there’s just a very high level of respect for one another and I personally like being around people who don’t agree with me. I think that it just kind of strengthens or makes you just re-evaluate how you feel.”
Hannity, laughing, said, “I don’t know if I would like to say that, but I mean to a certain – To limited quantities, though. There’s only so much abuse I need to take.” Is sharing an anchor job with someone he disagrees with too much "abuse" for Hannity? We’ll have to wait and see.
Sharing the country with someone he disagrees with may be too much for him. A difference of opinion was enough to label Sean Penn, “actor, activist and all around very angry man” this week’s “Enemy of the State.” Penn’s crime? “Besides calling little old me a whore… Penn has called for the impeachment for just about everybody in the administration and called them bastards. Now Penn can say whatever he wants and we invite him on this program to sit in the hot seat and defend his outlandish comments. But the real question is, who does this guy speak for? Who does he represent other than other bad actors?”
In Sean Hannity’s America, if you exercise the freedoms he purports to hold dear, you’ll be labeled an enemy.