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Hannity And Gingrich Put On The Tin Foil Hats As They Conjure Up The Hillary Clinton/Liberal Plot To Kill Talk Radio

Reported by Ellen - June 28, 2007 -

During last night’s (6/27/07) Hannity & Colmes segment about Democratic efforts to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, the “real journalism, fair and balanced” network saw no need to include an actual Democrat in the discussion. Instead, Sean Hannity and the sole guest, Newt Gingrich, quickly turned the segment into a conspiracy-theory confab as they concocted out of whole cloth (and several distortions) a liberal plot to kill talk radio and free speech as possibly orchestrated by Hillary Clinton. With video (sorry for the audio distortions).

This is at least the third time Hannity & Colmes has discussed the supposed plot to kill talk radio. The only evidence presented so far is that several Democrats have spoken up about their desire to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine and that Hillary Clinton has a connection to the head of the Center for American Progress, co-author of a recent study documenting a conservative imbalance on talk radio and suggesting ways to rectify it. Signficantly, the study specifically argues against the usefulness of the Fairness Doctrine.

A clip of John Kerry talking about re-instituting the Fairness Doctrine was played at the beginning of the segment. He said nothing more than that he wanted to ensure fairness – something you’d think a network who touts that attribute in their motto would wholeheartedly endorse. But for Hannity, fairness is a thing to be feared. He distorted Kerry’s words by saying, “More Democrats are joining the call against talk radio.”

Gingrich agreed and he upped the liberal-bashing ante. “They’re trying to muzzle talk radio because it represents the American people and they just can’t stand the American people being allowed to speak up.”

Conspiracy-theorist Hannity said, “This seems like it’s a well-orchestrated campaign. Do you suspect as I do, the Clintons?”

For Gingrich it wasn’t a Clinton conspiracy, just an overall liberal conspiracy. “This is affirmative action for liberalism… and their goal, frankly, is to kill your radio show, Bill Bennett’s, Rush Limbaugh’s, Michael Reagan, all the various, hundreds of local radio shows around the country, our good friend Neal Boortz. And why do they want to kill it? They want to kill it because every time we have an extended conversation with the American people, liberalism falls apart and its ideas collapse.”

Not so. In fact, as a recent report from Media Matters indicates, “Media perceptions and past Republican electoral successes notwithstanding, Americans are progressive across a wide range of controversial issues, and they're growing more progressive all the time.”

But nobody challenged Gingrich’s unfounded assertion.

Hannity, who never tires of attacking anyone who speaks out against President Bush and accusing them of “emboldening our enemies,” nevertheless declared that he and conservatives are on the side of free speech. Sure he is, just so long as he approves of it.

Then Hannity put on the tin foil hat again. “It seems to me that this is connected to an agenda… There’s a chill in the air to silence opposition and voices… How concerned do Americans have to be over this?”

Gingrich took the bait. “I think you have to be very concerned,” he said. He claimed that Democrats “are desperate to win control… they know they can’t win a fair fight.”

In fact, the report states that increased diversity in ownership, not content, per se, is its goal.

Alan Colmes did correct the record about that the report’s conclusion and he offered a brief argument that the Fairness Doctrine is not censorship. But he spent most of his portion of the segment arguing against the Fairness Doctrine and joking with “Mr. Speaker” about coming on Colmes’ radio show.

There was nobody to advocate either for the Center for American Progress/Free Press report or the Fairness Doctrine.