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Colmes Goes After Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK

Reported by Ellen - October 7, 2007 -

Alan Colmes has done a pretty terrific job lately so I hate to criticize him. But his attacks on Medea Benjamin on Hannity & Colmes for something she neither did nor endorsed seemed like a deliberate effort to discredit her. With video.

Benjamin, the co-founder of the anti-war women’s group CODEPINK, was a guest on Friday night’s (10/5/07) show in order to discuss what Colmes described in his scripted introduction as “an attack” on a Berkeley, California military recruiting center by a CODEPINK group. As Colmes spoke, a video showed what looked more like graffiti than an attack.

Benjamin made it clear that she had nothing to do with the action. She pointed out that she had been in Washington, D.C. and that there are hundreds of CODEPINK groups around the country, all of which are autonomous. “We believe in the CODEPINK groups’ right to decide what THEY want to do. I wouldn’t have used those particular words. I wouldn’t have done (that particular action),” Benjamin later said.

Colmes is no stranger to being in the position of supporting something on television he might not otherwise advocate. So he should have understood what Benjamin was trying to say. Nevertheless, he repeatedly assailed the action, making it seem as though it were typical of CODEPINK. “I question that tactic,” Colmes said. “Don’t the recruiters have free speech… Why shut down their ability to communicate? Isn’t that everything against what you should stand for as an anti-war protester who believes in freedom and freedom of speech?”

Colmes is entitled to his opinion, of course. But he must know that the set of Hannity & Colmes is no place to be arguing anti-war strategy. Still, he could have offered his view and moved on instead of spending his entire three minutes of the segment focusing on that one, insignificant event. He had an icon of the peace movement there for Christ’s sake! Why not shift focus to another subject? That happens all the time on Hannity & Colmes. Why not highlight other actions that CODEPINK has taken – their peace vigils, e.g. – or Benjamin’s peace-promoting trips to Iraq and Afghanistan? Colmes hates the war in Iraq, ardently opposes military action in Iran and is not a supporter of the war in Afghanistan. Surely he could have found some common ground worth exploring and emphasizing with Benjamin.

Instead, he chided her. “You’re in charge of CODEPINK. Your name’s attached to it. You have to take some responsibility for what this group does. Now you’re trying to distance yourself from what they’re trying to do in Berkeley.”

Comment: I'm usually a fan of Alan Colmes but I was very disappointed by his treatment of Benjamin. She had the courage to face what she knew would be a difficult interview with Hannity. It's a shame Colmes had to jump on her, too.