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Hannity And FOX News Offer Misleading Attacks Re Obama’s Canceled Visit To Troops

Reported by Ellen - July 29, 2008 -

Sean Hannity and guest Mike Huckabee had a field day on last night’s (7/28/08) Hannity & Colmes lobbing deceptive and contradictory accusations against Barack Obama over his canceled visit to American troops at an Army medical center in Germany. Susan Estrich, subbing for Alan Colmes, made no effort to correct the record. The result was a slew of specious spin, spoon fed as fact to the viewers of the “fair and balanced” network. With video.

Hannity opened the segment with a distorted and misleading account of the “controversy” surrounding Obama’s decision to cancel his visit. Hannity began by trying to make it seem as though Obama was giving contradictory explanations for canceling. In an obviously scripted introduction, Hannity read, “On Friday (Obama’s chief strategist) David Axelrod told the Chicago Sun Times that the Pentagon quote ‘viewed this as a campaign event.’ Therefore, they said he should not come. Today, Obama communications director Robert Gibbs clarified those comments to say that the Pentagon never actually prevented the senator from visiting the troops but that the campaign decided not to visit because they didn’t want to put our soldiers in the campaign spotlight.”

To heighten the smear, FOX News ran the following banner on the lower third of the screen: Obama camp now says Pentagon didn’t prevent them from visiting troops.

Hannity continued by reading, “In response, the McCain campaign has criticized Senator Obama and they released this brand new television ad.” Hannity then gleefully played McCain’s attack ad against Obama.

The ad has been debunked by the non-partisan FactCheck.org which states, the “TV spot falsely insinuates that Obama canceled his visit because ‘the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras.’”

As FactCheck notes, it’s probable that Obama never planned to bring reporters with him when he visited the troops in Germany. The press would not have been permitted and Obama has previously visited troops without the press. Furthermore, TPM has confirmed that the Pentagon told the Obama campaign he could not visit the troops with campaign staff, as had been planned. Neither of those facts were presented to the Hannity & Colmes audience.

Hannity never addressed the discrepancy between the ad’s suggestion that the lack of cameras was behind Obama’s decision to cancel and Hannity’s own introduction focusing on the role of the Pentagon. But the implication was clear – that the Obama campaign was waffling in order to hide its media-hungry, troop-disinterested agenda.

To add even more bias, Republican Mike Huckabee was the lone guest for the segment. Huckabee dubiously told Hannity, “Boy, a bad week for Obama. I think this was a huge gaffe. It’s gonna cost him, not as much now but in the future... I think the Obama campaign is coming apart trying to somehow explain what is an inexplicable snub of American soldiers.”

Huckabee also made the dubious assertion that Americans are worried about whether or not Obama will "try to deal with this incredible tax burden that’s killing small businesses all over America. They know Obama has a tax plan that will pretty much gut small business in this nation.”

Estrich once again proved that her desire to ingratiate herself with FOX News conservatives is more important than her desire to advocate on behalf of Democrats. She allowed all the misrepresentations to stand without comment. In fact, she said nothing at all about Obama during the segment. She made a few good comments about what a poor campaign McCain is waging. Then she moved on to talk about McCain’s VP pick.

And just in case that isn't enough bias for you, the caption on the FOX News video for this segment reads, "McCain blasts Obama for dissing troops." It's not on the embedded video, below, but it is on the FOX News video omnibus page. Because that page changes so frequently, I'm posting a screen grab underneath the video.