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Hannity Uses Civil Rights March As An Excuse To Attack African Americans

Reported by Ellen - November 17, 2007 -

White supremacist sympathizer Sean Hannity once again "discussed" civil rights issues by attacking African Americans. As this blog has repeatedly noted, Hannity has a consistent history of changing the subject and attacking blacks when civil rights issues are presented on Hannity & Colmes. On last night’s (11/16/07) show, there was a discussion about a demonstration in Washington in which protesters demanded that the U.S. Justice Department step up its prosecution of hate crimes. But rather than debate the Justice Department’s record or even the protester’s demands, Hannity turned his bullyboy belligerence on Al Sharpton associate Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson in a blatant effort to discredit, denigrate and humiliate him and other African Americans. With video.

As Think Progress noted in its coverage of the demonstrations,

Earlier this month, USA Today reported that “the Justice Department is prosecuting the fewest hate crimes in 10 years” with 22 people charged with hate crimes by the department last year, which is “down 71% from 76 in 1997.” The decline in hate crimes prosecutions accompanies a series of high-profile “racially charged incidents over the past year and a half” — such as the Jena 6 controversy — that have ignited the passions of the civil rights community.

Furthermore, there have been charges of politicization and lack of interest in protections of minorities in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Dept.. Recently, the Voting Rights Section chief John Tanner made headlines when he publicly stated that while elderly people may be adversely disaffected by voter ID laws, minorities are actually favored because they die before becoming elderly.

Yet none of that information was provided on the show by the “We report, you decide” network.

Alan Colmes did a decent job of highlighting the issues from the Jena 6 case though he never got into the broader subject that the march really addressed: prosecution of hate crimes. But when it was Hannity’s turn, he immediately started browbeating Richardson -- first over the six black students’ attack on the white student, then for not wanting a harsh enough sentence for the Jena 6. It was a neat maneuver away from the subject of civil rights, the Justice Department and hate crimes. It was also a sly way of sending a message that African Americans don’t deserve any more protection.

But Hannity didn’t leave it there. He next pulled one of his “gotcha” questions on Franklin, designed to make African Americans look like racists.

Hannity began by trying to hide the hostility in his voice. "If you have young African Americans accused of a crime and later exonerated, we want equal justice, should the people that falsely accuse them be held accountable?"

“Sure,” said Richardson.

Hannity replied, “Then you mean Rev. Jackson, who offered on this program a scholarship for the woman who was the accuser in the Duke case? Or the same Reverend Sharpton who went out there and falsely accused Steven Pagones and was held liable in the Tawana Brawley case? So they should be held accountable by your standards?”

Richardson pointed out that Sharpton has been held accountable because he was sued by Pagones. In fact, Sharpton was liable for $65,000 in damages which has been paid in full to Pagones.

As for the Duke case, Jackson never accused the Duke defendants of anything, the prosecutor had. Jackson explained his scholarship offer by saying that the evidence showed the woman had been harmed and "If this young woman's esteem was so low, and finances were so low, and her — she, in fact, had to be an exotic dancer and strip for a living to educate herself, and take care of her children, then we would offer a scholarship."

If Hannity felt that the civil rights march was unwarranted, he should have addressed that issue like a grownup. His underhanded attempts to subvert the topic are the hallmarks of a coward covering up his fear with bluster rather than the characteristics of a savvy debater. Unfortunately, however, Richardson seemed unfamiliar with Hannity’s tactics and did not expose them. The result, I fear, is that casual viewers more interested in political theater than in focusing on Hannity’s machinations will think he is as tough a guy as he holds himself up to be.

But since Hannity is so concerned about accusers being held accountable, I wonder what reparations he has made to Abner Louima, the sodomy victim that Hannity relentlessly ridiculed and falsely accused. As FAIR reported:

When Haitian immigrant Abner Louima accused New York City police officers of sodomizing and badly injuring him with a wooden rod in 1997, Hannity used his WABC show for a vicious counter-offensive targeting the victim.

The father of chief defendant Justin Volpe, an NYPD police officer, regularly appeared on show during the 1999 trial. And Hannity and various guests repeated rumors that Louima's injuries resulted from a "gay sex act" and not from police brutality. Playing on the homosexual rumor and inconsistencies in Louima's story, Hannity and his producer sang a parody of Lionel Richie's song "Three Times a Lady," changing the words to "you're once, twice, three times a liar." Hannity stopped referring to the victim as "Lying Louima" only after Volpe confessed to sodomizing Louima with the help of another officer.

So let’s ask Hannity what amends he's made to Louima: an apology? Monetary restitution for smearing his good name? You can email Hannity at hannity@foxnews.com.