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Hannity and Guest Champion American Freedoms, Then Suggest Critics Should Leave The Country

Reported by Ellen - June 3, 2007 -

Moments after lamenting the loss of freedom in Venezuela and complaining about countrymen hating each other under Chavez’ rule, Hannity & Colmes guest Maria Conchita Alonso suggested that Americans who disagree with her should move to Cuba or Venezuela. Sean Hannity clearly supported the idea. This came during an unfair, unbalanced discussion of the protests in Venezuela over the closing of television station RCTV. With video.

Alonso’s appearance on Friday night’s (6/1/07) Hannity & Colmes was her second since the Venezuelan unrest began as the result of President Hugo Chavez’ refusal to renew the broadcast license of a Venezuelan television station that had supported a coup against him. Despite the fact that Alonso is ardently anti-Chavez, there was no balancing guest in either appearance.

I’m no Hugo Chavez fan but, given that a sizeable portion of Venezuelans support him, shouldn’t a “fair and balanced” news network offer at least some explanation for their side of the story?

FOX News reporter Adam Housley kicked off the discussion with the “breaking details” but was no help to those seeking to grasp a complete picture. Housley limited his reporting to who was demonstrating and where but not why. His only explanation was, “RCTV has been the reason for all these protests” and he described the station as “the last independent national television station in this country.” The “real journalism” network neglected to mention the other side of the story, as former AP reporter Bart Jones wrote in his LA Times editorial (H/T Chrish).

After Chavez was elected president in 1998, RCTV shifted (its focus to) ousting a democratically elected leader from office. Controlled by members of the country's fabulously wealthy oligarchy including RCTV chief Marcel Granier, it saw Chavez and his "Bolivarian Revolution" on behalf of Venezuela's majority poor as a threat. RCTV's most infamous effort to topple Chavez came during the April 11, 2002, coup attempt against him. For two days before the putsch, RCTV preempted regular programming and ran wall-to-wall coverage of a general strike aimed at ousting Chavez. A stream of commentators spewed nonstop vitriolic attacks against him — while permitting no response from the government.

Then RCTV ran nonstop ads encouraging people to attend a march on April 11 aimed at toppling Chavez and broadcast blanket coverage of the event. When the march ended in violence, RCTV and Globovision ran manipulated video blaming Chavez supporters for scores of deaths and injuries.

After military rebels overthrew Chavez and he disappeared from public view for two days, RCTV's biased coverage edged fully into sedition.

This is not to say that I support Chavez’ decision not to renew RCTV's license or even that I fully accept Jones’ account. But I’d like to get the full story and make up my own mind, thank you very much. In other words, I’d like FOX News to live up to its own mission statement by doing the reporting and letting me doing the deciding.

FOX viewers were just SOL in that regard. Alonso isn’t just anti-Chavez, she is as rabidly opposed to him as the Cubans in Miami are to Castro. In fact, Alonso was born in Cuba and according to wikipedia, her brother, Roberto Alonso, is an anti-Castro activist who has been accused by Castro of working for the CIA. He has also been accused by Venezuela of harboring anti-Chavez paramilitaries on his Venezuela ranch and is currently residing in the United States while awaiting a petition of extradition by the Venezuelan government. As FOXNews.com recently reported, Maria Conchita Alonso is slated for a role in an upcoming anti-Chavez film that was “written by a Venezuelan who remains anonymous.” Any bets that the writer is brother Roberto? (H/T Marie Therese).

On Hannity & Colmes, Maria Conchita Alonso extolled the student demonstrators for “demanding what is being taken from us, in this case, freedom of liberty of speech.” She made predictable condemnations of Venezuela such as, “It’s just what they know how to say best, which is lies.” She also insisted that Chavez was not democratically elected. Even FOX News would not go that far. The AP article on FOXNews.com reports that Chavez was “re-elected by a wide margin in December.”

Hannity told Alonso, “We love having you back on the program.” He added, “If there is freedom and liberty back in Venezuela, you will be a big reason why that has happened.” However, he failed to explain what role, if any, she was playing, other than spouting off against Chavez.

Alonso dramatically complained, “People hate each other (in Venezuela) which we have never had that before… People live in fear of speaking.”

With Hanctimonious flair, Hannity told her, “You have been such a force and such a freedom fighter in our time and it’s so important. I’m as inspired as you are.”

What was freedom-loving Hannity inspired to do? Denigrate his fellow Americans who disagree with him and paint them as traitors. “I want to show as much solidarity for these students and these protesters in their quest for freedom here. But I want you to address something that you and I discussed on the Sunday night show one night. And that is (Danny Glover) just, what, in the last week, got an $18 million dollar commitment from Hugo Chavez to produce some movie… and Harry Belafonte was there as he denounced his own country. Cindy Sheehan was there as he said ‘Down with the USA.’ What do you want to say to them tonight, knowing what we now know, that he is silencing opposition and he has proven himself to be a Casto-style dictator?” As Hannity spoke, he showed footage of Danny Glover with his arm around Chavez.

Freedom-loving Alonso answered, “I’m just telling them why don’t they move, a hundred percent, why don’t they move to Cuba? Why don’t they move to Venezuela and live there and forget United States? Forget the freedom that you have here to speak up and to choose what you want to do with your life and to be a better human being or not?”

Colmes broke in to ask, “So if we don’t agree with you, we should leave the country? Rather than exercise our free speech, we should leave the country?”

Freedom-loving Hannity peevishly muttered, “support dictators.”

Freedom-loving Alonso said, “Well, if you are speaking against United States, and you are in favor of Chavez and Fidel Castro…” She later insisted “I’m not saying for them not to speak up. You have to live in there to see exactly what is going on. Once you live there.”