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Hannity’s “Truth About Haditha” is really Murtha Smear

Reported by Chrish - October 28, 2007 -

Note: Guest blogged by Priscilla

Last night’s (October 27th) Hannity’s America was a strange magazine format which combined stories about mediums and haunted houses with a lead off interview that was billed as “The Truth About Haditha.” Hannity is a college drop out with no professional journalism credentials and this lack of professional journalistic acumen was well reflected in Hannity’s “leading questions” which served a political agenda. (Comment: Although Fox’s Chris Wallace can be partisan, he looks like Cronkite compared to Sean Hannity!)

Hannity billed his interview with Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt, his lawyer, and his father as “exclusive.” He began by noting that this interview would be a response to Congressman John Murtha and military officials who are “trying to paint the story with a different brush.” Before the interview began, Hannity set up the Fox/right wing premise by asking the not so rhetorical question “have politics gotten in the way of patriotism?” Without doing an overview of the Haditha story, he asked Sharratt to explain what happened on that fateful day. Hannity asked Sharratt if he saw any of his fellow Marines doing anything that they weren’t supposed to do. Not surprisingly, Sharratt said that he didn’t. Hannity mentioned the article in Time Magazine which reported that the Haditha civilians claimed they were attacked by the Marines. Hannity asked Sharratt why Time would report that and Sharratt said he didn’t know.

Hannity then asked Justin’s father how he “felt” about the charges and Mr. Sharratt, also not surprisingly, said that he felt that Sharratt was innocent. He added that “certain people in government knew that the charges were fabricated.” Hannity then jumped to the core of the interview which was all about smearing US Representative John Murtha (D-PA).

He played a tape of Murtha’s comments: "...There was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.". What Hannity didn’t mention was that a military official also said “it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.” He then asked Justin what he thought about Murtha’s comments and he responded that Murtha said that there was no IED or firefight and that he should speak to the parent of the soldier who was killed by the IED during the firefight. (Comment: Murtha was saying that the civilians were not killed by the IED and Hannity did not correct Sharratt’s incorrect interpretation.)

Both Sharratt and his father asserted that Murtha was “denying the Constitutional right to presumption of innocence.” Hannity worked in an editorial comment when he asked if Murtha “put his political agenda and desire to end the war above giving your son the presumption of innocence? Was it all about the politics?” Not surprisingly, both father and son agreed. But Hannity’s piece de resistance was a tape he showed of a “young student” confronting and asking Murtha if he knew the charges were being dropped and if he wanted to apologize. Murtha ignored him and got into the elevator. Hannity, with his trademark smirk, said “what does that tell you about the character of a man who can’t apologize?” (Comment: Hannity’s “young student” was Hannity fave Young American for Freedom Jason Mattera who told Chris Matthews that he wouldn’t be enlisting because he was “fighting the culture war here at home.”) The video of the confrontation is available at (surprise, surprise) Malkin’s Hot Air.

Comment: Despite the title of the piece, Hannity’s interview did not shed any “truth” into the Haditha matter. He didn’t mention that the charges against Sharratt were dropped by Lt. General James Mattis whose view of war includes this, said during a panel discussion in San Diego: “It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling,”

Hannity did not mention that two US Marines will face court martials.

“Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani is charged with dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order based on the allegations that he failed to properly investigate shootings” and Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and aggravated assault."

Hannity used the segment as an opportunity to bash John Murtha who was reacting to information which had been disclosed by the US military. Hannity’s viewers are left with the impression that the Haditha matter has been closed with no culpability on the part of the military who, as we know from Vietnam, have been involved in atrocities because, as Murtha noted, they are under pressure. Hannity certainly didn’t mention the Marine photos which, according to a military official, show people who have been shot execution style. But for Fox News, real news is secondary to the political propaganda message.

Note: Guest blogged by Priscilla