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Conspiracy Theorist Hannity Accuses Hillary Clinton Of Masterminding Talk Radio Report In Unfair, Unbalanced Discussion Also Full Of Distortions

Reported by Ellen - June 22, 2007 -

Sean Hannity was in a bullyboy pique on last night's (6/21/07) Hannity & Colmes over a new report by the Center for American Progress and Free Press analyzing the domination of conservatives in talk radio and suggesting ways to correct the imbalance. As Hannity blustered and accused Hillary Clinton of being behind some cabal to shut down free speech, he didn’t seem to mind that his own show had done just that by having one liberal-hating guest, only, and misrepresenting the suggested remedies of the report. With video.

The sole guest was conservative radio talkshow host Bill Cunningham whom I have dubbed “The Shouter.” In recent appearances, Cunningham has said, "A clown, a fool, a deranged activist like Rosie has (no) right to speak," "we live in a sick, delusional world where atheists have rights, where soldiers have no rights... and the next time a thousand New Yorkers die in a building or in a subway, thank the ACLU," and “When the next attack is made, Alan (Colmes), people like you and Rosie O’Donnell will be responsible.” So there was no way anyone on the "fair and balanced" network could have expected an evenhanded approach from him.

Hannity never tires of complaining about the “shrill rhetoric” of the left yet he introduced hate-mongering Cunningham, the man who had essentially accused Hannity’s co-host of causing terrorism, as a “good friend of ours, great American that he is.” Cunningham shouted so loudly during the discussion that I had to turn my volume down. Video viewers may want to keep the volume control in reach.

Hannity started by conflating the CAP/Free Press recommendations with a headline on Drudge Report which said that Senator Inhofe overheard Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer saying they want a “legislative fix” for talk radio. You can hear Inhofe's statement here. From there, Hannity concluded that Clinton had had a hand in the CAP/Free Press report because John Podesta, president and chief executive officer of CAP, was formerly President Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff. Podesta is not one of the authors of the report (see p.4). “This is what I suspected it was from earlier today. This is Senator Clinton’s best friend trying to come up with a blueprint to silence conservatives... I want to see the connection. Podesta and Hillary Clinton. This is supposed to be a tax-exempt organization. I’d like to know what influence she may have had on this. I’d like to investigate her comments that are now being reported on Drudge.”

Predictably, Cuningham spent all his time shouting insults about liberals in general and Alan Colmes and Air America, in particular. "I think even Alan Colmes may grasp this issue... we're conservative and in talk radio, not because we want to be, because the American people demand that people like you and I go after people like Alan Colmes."

Colmes pointed out that CAP did the study in conjunction with the Free Press who, according to Colmes, has previously partnered with the Christian Coalition and the Parents Television Council in the past. “It’s not just about Hillary Clinton… it’s not just John Podesta. John Podesta is part of a larger group. They partnered with another group.”

Cunningham had no response, other than to go off on another liberal-bashing rant. “Why don’t you talk to Brent Bozell. Talk to Brent Bozell at the Media Research Center about what NBC, ABC and CBS, using the public airwaves, do every night to Christians, do every night to American soldiers, do every night to conservatives.”

Colmes interrupted to get back on topic but he, too, criticized the recommendations in the report and, unfortunately, misrepresented them. “I’m with you in that I don’t want a government solution to the free marketplace of talk radio. I want to make it in the free marketplace not because a station has to put me on, cause they’re mandated by a Fairness Doctrine… Once you have a Fairness Doctrine, liberals should realize that that doesn’t help them either, should they ever dominate talk radio.”

In fact, the report does not argue for reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine and specifically states that it would not likely correct the imbalance. Instead, the report specifically recommends a market approach. As CAP’s blog, Think Progress wrote earlier in the day, in response to other, similarly false attacks on the report:

The report argues instead that we should address the more significant problem of concentrated ownership and ineffective regulation in order to push the market structure to better meet local needs. As report co-author John Halpin stated, “If we break up concentrated ownership, and encourage greater local accountability over radio licensing, and still end up with lots of conservative talk, then so be it. We don’t think this will happen but at least the playing field would have been made more level.”

The CAP/Free Press report argues for more speech, not less. Conservatives should get their facts straight before blindly attacking others.