Sean Hannity Misrepresents Pelosi Plane Issue
Reported by Ellen - February 8, 2007 -
Nine days after FOX News Senior Vice President John Moody criticized FOX & Friends hosts for having “violated one of our general rules, which is to know what you are talking about,” Sean Hannity did exactly that with the Nancy Pelosi plane “controversy” on last night's (2/7/07) Hannity & Colmes. With video.
As Think Progress reports, The Washington Times, owned by the same entity that published the now-discredited Obama smear reported by FOX & Friends, which drew Moody’s rebuke, has launched a story about Nancy Pelosi demanding permanent access to a large military jet for her travel. As in the Obama story, the Pelosi story is based entirely on quotes from unnamed sources. Yet, despite the fact that the Republican-appointed House Sergeant At Arms acknowledges that he initiated inquiries for an Air Force plane for Pelosi and despite the fact that Pelosi has said that it is up to the Air Force to determine the size of her plane, Hannity claimed repeatedly that Pelosi was demanding an extravagantly large plane.
Hannity hardly seems like a suitable candidate to be throwing stones at anyone else’s travel demands. For example, in the fall of 2004, he canceled an appearance at Washington University in St. Louis because the students sponsoring him could not come up with a private jet that satisfied him. A first class ticket was not good enough for him, either. On October 14, 2004 Brigham Young University NewsNet revealed that Hannity, who "volunteered" to speak at Utah Valley State College, submitted nearly $50,000 in travel expenses.
Nevertheless, Hannity snidely – and misleadingly – said that Pelosi “has some very fancy requests.”
FOX cleverly framed the discussion as a question of whether or not there was enough media scrutiny of Pelosi's plane, not the issue of the plane itself, perhaps because they knew they could not verify the story. But why question lack of coverage of a story that is questionable and unverified?
The guests were Bob Zelnick, Chairman of Boston University’s Journalism Department and Conservative Tim Graham, from the Media Research Center. No Democratic spokesperson and no liberal was there to balance Graham.
Hannity started off with a distortion, once again proving he is either the most disingenuous person on a network news channel or the most ignorant. "First of all, the Defense Department did offer her the same plane that they had offered to Dennis Hastert." Hannity either did not know or did not care to mention, as Roll Call reports (H/T Media Matters) the Air Force determined Pelosi would be safer in a plane that could fly non-stop and Hastert's plane was too small to fly non-stop from Washington to California.
Hannity then falsely claimed that Pelosi was asking for an extremely plush plane. "The plane that she is asking for would include 42 business class seats, a fully enclosed state room, an entertainment center, a private bed, in case she gets a little sleepy, state of the art communications system and a crew of 16."
Hannity amplified that distortion to make it seem as though Pelosi was using the plane to boost her self-importance. “That's the issue here, is she's demanding a plane almost the size of the president's plane... It sounds to me like she thinks that she's president and she's not.”
Graham, who was supposedly there to ensure accuracy in the media falsely suggested, “Maybe she needs those 42 seats for all the children and grandchildren that always surround her.”
In fact, as MSNBC reported, "Pelosi's aide says that she has never asked for a plane or space on a plane to accommodate 'supporters.'"
Nevertheless, Hannity continued pushing that misconception by asking, “Why can't they pay and go on a commercial plane like the rest of America?”
Alan Colmes corrected the record at the end of the segment by noting that the Sergeant At Arms, not Pelosi's office, initiated the request. But Hannity disregarded that truth in order to promote his falsehood. He interrupted Colmes to say, "She's asking for the bigger plane."
Will FOX News retract these falsehoods? Or are Moody's "general rules" only applicable to some?