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Hannity's Version of the Best and the Worst Pits Blacks Against Hispanics

Reported by Marie Therese - January 21, 2007 -

At the end of each episode of Hannity's America, host Sean Hannity presents his viewers with two people whom he considers to be diametrically opposed. One he labels "Enemy of the Week", the other, "A Great American". Tonight it was African-American Mayor vs Hispanic Classical Violinist.

On tonight's show the "Enemy of the Week" was African-American John F. Street, Democrat, mayor of Philadelphia.

His crime?

Let's let Hannity explain:

SEAN HANNITY: "And, finally, tonight, it's time to reveal our Enemy of the Week, the person who has given freedom and liberty a black eye. This week, it's the Mayor of Philadelphia, John Street. Now, Street told the Philadelphia Daily News this week that gun violence is on the rise in the city of Brotherly Love partly because of the War in Iraq. He says that attitudes in the city have changed because of the daily news reports of violence coming back from the Middle East. But statistics - well, they tell a different story. According to the FBI uniform crime reports there, there were 7,364 instances of firearms used in violent crimes in the year 2006. Now, that's fewer than the total number in 2000 and 2001, and that's before the Iraq War began and just slightly more than in 2002. The Mayor should be ashamed of himself for using the violence in his own city to make a political point. Mr. Mayor, the war on terror isn't the problem But maybe you are. And that's why you, John Street, are our Enemy of the Week."

Here's Mayor Street's comment, taken in context, as reprinted in the Philadelphia Daily News. It hardly rises to the level of venom that Hannity spewed during his show.

[Mayor John] Street said the daily dose of violence streaming back in news reports from the Iraqi battlefields has changed attitudes in the city.

"I believe the fact that we are a country at war has something to do with the attitude of people in the streets. Let me tell you, it's not just this city. I have seen it everywhere and I've talked to people a lot about it," Street said.

"We are a country that is becoming less and less civil. We are a place where people will pull out a gun and shoot it at the drop of a hat," he said.

He recalled the shock 10 or more years ago when reports began to surface of youths brutally beating another child over a pair of sneakers. Today, he said, adults draw guns and fight over seats in a restaurant, over parking spots and over highway indignities.

"I am stunned at the kind of social interaction that leads to the use of a weapon," he said.

Street said an administration goal this year is to train 1,000 clergy members in conflict-resolution techniques and then get them talking with young people on the streets, in churches and in schools.(Source:Philadelphia Daily News)

Hannity never mentioned the part about hiring a thousand ministers nor did he tell his audience the story of John Street's early life.

From the City of Philadelphia website:

Mayor Street, 60 years old, was born into rural poverty in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and came up the "hard way," growing up without electricity or indoor plumbing as a child. Understanding that education was the key to his future, Mayor Street graduated from Conshohocken High School and worked his way through Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, where he studied English. In 1975, Street earned his Juris Doctorate from Temple University Law School, paying his tuition by moonlighting as a sidewalk vendor on the university's campus. Following his graduation, Street served clerkships with Common Pleas Court Judge Mathew W. Bullock, Jr. and with the United States Department of Justice. In his first professional job, Mayor Street taught English at an elementary school and, later, at the Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center. He also practiced law privately prior to entering into public service.

Admittedly, Mayor Street has been embroiled in several controversies during his six-year administration, any one of which would have provided better cannon fodder for Hannity that the one used above. But, Hannity chose to denigrate Street based on a single comment and then tried to make a tenuous connection to the war on terror. One wonders why?

The next segment featured Cuban violinist and conductor Luis Haza.

SEAN HANNITY: "And now our Great American. Luis Haza. He has defied all the odds. He was raised and born in Cuba under the brutal regime of FIdel Castro. However, his musical gift was able to open doors that many could only dream of. Now living in the United Stated, Haza has gone from being a Cuban refugee to a Great American."

Hannity then aired a video clip of Luis Haza playing beautiful violin interpretations of "America the Beautiful" and "The Star Spangled Banner" while an announcer gave a short synopsis of his life, including the fact that Haza's father was executed by Castro for pro-democracy activities. A short look at Haza's biography shows that he has done wonderful work bringing music to thousands of young people. He was very lucky to have been born with a rare gift that allowed him access to the great American music conservatories and master teachers, among them Mstislav Rostropovich, Henryk Szeryng (who was accompanied for many years by a friend of mine) and Efrem Zimbalist, Sr., among others.

All in all, Haza is doing good work in a field - classical music - that is overlooked, underfunded and frequently derided in these United States. People like Mr. Haza give me hope that the wonderful music of the great master composers really does have a future in this country.


There is a kind of sick irony in the fact that Hannity would denigrate an African-American on the day the Indianapolis Colts win a cliffhanger against the New England Patriots, and the Chicago Bears defeat the New Orleans Saints, thus making the Bears' Lovie Smith the first African-American head coach and the Colts' Tony Dungy the second African-American head coach to go to the Super Bowl.

Post updated 1-22-07 at 2:37 AM EST to add Lovie Smith's information. Sorry everyone. I'm football-challenged. - MT