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Obama Spokesman Confronts Hannity On HIS Radical Association

Reported by Ellen - October 8, 2008 -

On the post-debate Hannity & Colmes program last night (10/7/08), Barack Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs pushed back on Sean Hannity's fixation with William Ayers and nabbed Hannity for using a major anti-Semite as a source for smearing Obama at the same time. With video.

Hannity started the segment with Gibbs by complaining that the debate was a “rehash” of topics already discussed. Hannity was obviously disappointed that William Ayers had not come up. So Hannity figured he'd do it with Obama's spokesman.

“Let me ask you a question,” Hannity said to Gibbs. “How can you fight terrorism when you give speeches with, you sit on a board with (Hannity began counting on those fingers), Axelrod says you're friendly with, and you never speak out against, William Ayers?”

Gibbs answered, “So you think he's guilty by association?” Gibbs went on to point out that Obama has said that Ayers' radical acts were deplorable but that the board they sat on together was funded by the Annenberg Foundation, named after a conservative Republican and friend of Ronald Reagan.

Then Gibbs said “Let me ask you one question... Are you anti-Semitic?”

“Not at all,” Hannity said.

Gibbs continued, “OK, on your show on Sunday, the show that's named after you, the centerpiece of that show was a guy named Andy Martin.” Gibbs was referring to Sunday's (10/5/08) Hannity's America program in which, as Media Matters has reported,

Hannity hosted Andy Martin -- identified by Hannity as an "Internet journalist" -- to make "the explosive claim that [Sen. Barack] Obama's role as a community organizer was a political staging ground perpetuated by the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers." At no point during the segment did Hannity note Martin's history of smears against Obama or Martin's history of anti-Semitic and racially charged comments.

Hannity immediately became defensive, accused Gibbs of “reading your talking points” (as if Hannity doesn't!) and then interrupted to say that he interviews “people of all points of view, whether we agree or disagree.”

Gibbs went on to quote some of Martin's anti-Semitic statements and asked why one should not think that Hannity is an anti-Semite.

Agitated, Hannity said, “I'm a journalist that interviews people all the time.” Not according to FOX News he isn't.

Gibbs' point was that it was as ridiculous to accuse Obama of supporting Ayers because they worked together on a board as it would be to accuse Hannity of being an anti-Semite just because he interviewed Martin. But it would have been sweet if Gibbs had gone all the way and pointed out that Hannity had not just interviewed Martin but presented him as a credible guest, one who offered Hannity's own viewpoint. Martin's treatment was quite a contrast to the way Hannity treats people he disagrees with, such as economist Robert Kuttner or even Gibbs, himself.

Interestingly, an increasingly agitated Hannity tried to change the subject to attacking Barack Obama over Louis Farrakhan, Hannity's black uber-boogeyman. “Did Barack Obama ever sit and meet with Louis Farrakhan?” Hannity asked. It was a question out of left field.

Gibbs said he had no idea.

But you have to wonder why Hannity would ask such a question. To my mind, it was because, having failed to make the “radical terrorist” connection, Hannity wanted to accuse Obama of being a black militant/racist.

Though I have repeatedly written about Hannity's bigotry, I don't have any grounds to think that he is an actual anti-Semite. But he certainly has a record of friendliness toward anti-Semites.

Hannity was so rattled that he returned to the subject at the end of the show, long after Gibbs had gone, and insisted he has stood up to anti-Semitism and racism. Unfortunately, my recorder did not record that bit.

But I invite Hannity to provide one instance where he has stood up to anti-black racism. On the other hand, I can provide dozens of instances where he has promoted it.