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Sharpton Confronts Hannity’s Bigotry

Reported by Ellen - March 14, 2007 -

Al Sharpton was a guest on Hannity & Colmes last night, 3/13/07, to discuss why he has withheld an endorsement of Barack Obama. Sharpton appeared after a double interview with Newt Gingrich filled with softball questions. By contrast, Hannity deliberately baited Sharpton from the moment the interview started, first in an effort to get him to slam Obama, then in a direct assault on Sharpton. But Sharpton immediately seized on the contrast and threw it back at Hannity. With video.

Gingrich got a double segment at the top of the show. The first one was devoted to his proposal to improve Medicaid. In the second part, the discussion broadened to include the presidential race in which Gingrich has expressed an interest in entering. How fortunate, then, to receive the top slot in which to tout a policy proposal unopposed by any differing point of view. Even more favorably, FOX News posted “Fixing America’s healthcare problem” on the screen, along with several screen shots of a booklet he published called “Making Medicaid Work.”

There were no tough questions for Gingrich, not even during the second, political part of the discussion. Not a word was said about his recent confession that he cheated on his wife while pursuing Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

But when it was Sharpton’s turn, Hannity made an almost beeline to attack him over his role in the Tawana Brawley incident 24-plus years ago. The only detour was an initial attempt to bait Sharpton into slamming Obama or maybe Clinton with such questions as, “Are you sure his team floated that story?” and “Is he trying to bully you into an endorsement?” Sharpton, the former presidential candidate, got far less respect than Gingrich a candidate wannabe.

Sharpton was shrewd enough to avoid Hannity’s traps. He wondered aloud why his lack of endorsement was a story while nobody had asked Gingrich about his lack of endorsements. “Did you ask Newt as a white Republican why he didn’t endorse the white Rudy Giuliani?”

Since Hannity’s main preoccupation with racial issues seems to be whether a white person can do the same thing a black person can (See, for example his complaint about Obama’s church being too “black” centered here, here and here), one might have expected him to welcome that line of questioning. But Hannity’s concern for racial equality seems to go only one way. In no time at all, he was yelling with bullyboy theatricality about Sharpton's divisiveness.

Sharpton had a few good comebacks, such as, “You ask ME about being divisive?” But I wish he had confronted Hannity on the bigger picture of FOX News bias not just its racial bias and, even more importantly, not just this particular incidence of racial bias on FOX News.

The second part of the Gingrich interview and the Sharpton interview are posted below for comparison and contrast.