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Hannity's Double Standard: Bigoted Jokes From Imus Are Free Speech! Rosie Criticizes Bush? Harmful To America!

Reported by Ellen - April 26, 2007 -

Sean Hannity, so outraged over the "slippery slope" for free speech over the firing of Don Imus and the suspensions of JV and Elvis for making bigoted jokes, had a complete change of heart last night (4/25/07) when it came to Rosie O'Donnell going off the air. All of a sudden, his concern for free speech evaporated as he melodramatically accused Rosie of harming America by criticizing the Bush administration. With video.

On the night that Imus was fired by MSNBC, Hannity fretted about its chilling effect on free speech for broadcasters. "Imus is off the air. Some say he is the victim of his own words but tonight others are asking if he will only be the first victim of a new movement to control what broadcasters say on the airwaves. Who's next? Rush Limbaugh? Neal Boortz? Maybe even little old me. Joining us now with more on these chilling developments…"

What Hannity meant, of course, was that he was concerned about the effect on conservative broadcasters. He went through the motions of defending O'Donnell's free speech: "I don't care what she says. I make my living with free speech." But, seconds later, he said, "The president is a war criminal. He ought to be tried at The Hague. He's a dictator…. What she said was hurtful to the families on 9/11." Hannity never offered any proof that was so.

Funny, Hannity didn't care about the hurt feelings of Asians when guest Vicki Shu Smolin, of the Organization of Chinese Americans, said she wanted radio hosts JV and Elvis fired for their bigoted prank call to a Chinese restaurant. Smolin said, "There's funny, and there's funny that hurts. And this is where funny hurts. And, you know, it's not even just about, you know, freedom of speech here."

"Sensitive" Hannity replied, "But you don't have to listen to it, do you? You don't have to tune into this radio station… And, look, I'm not saying you have to listen to these guys. I don't even like some of this humor. It's not what I do on the radio. But I'm very — you have to see that we've got to be concerned about free speech here." No such concern about free speech with Rosie, though.

During last night's discussion, a montage of "Rosie's greatest hits" (as the chyron described it) was played. But during the segments about Imus, his long history of racially incendiary remarks was largely overlooked.

Hannity & Colmes continued to ignore the troubles of the Bush administration last night as it devoted its first three segments to O'Donnell (the one below is Part 2). Tonight, their special guest will be Imus' former executive producer (and cohort in bigoted jokes), Bernard McGuirk. Something tells me free speech will be front and center again (and the videos will disappear) as the show milks these tabloid stories for all their worth and more.

As the Bush administration woes mount, I'll bet that somewhere in America, a FOX News operative is scouring phone machines for another "shocking" message from Alec Baldwin. Or maybe they could do a few weeks on Natalee Holloway still being missing.