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Brian Kilmeade and Sean Hannity Spread Misinformation (Lies?) About Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano

Reported by Priscilla - March 19, 2009 -

Words matter and when words are used to present lies as facts it really does matter. Certainly, a “fair and balanced” news network should be careful about the words used to communicate information to their audience. Thanks to the brown haired guy who isn’t Steve Doocy and Sean Hannity, the Fox audience was treated to information which, if not a lie, was misinformation at its finest. Of course when the words used to communicate information are communicating propaganda, all bets are off.

“The attacks of 9-11 were not that long ago, we are still fighting radical Islam yet we cannot say the word terrorism. Homeland security Janet Napolitano has removed the word terrorism from her vocabulary and swapped it with this, ‘man caused disaster.’ Is her omission of terrorism an attempt to deflect reality"? The Chyron read “not talking terrorism Napolitano says man caused disaster.” Brian was then joined by retired former chairman joint chief of staff Richard Myers who has authored a new book. After some small talk, Kilmeade got into the knity-gritty. He asked Myers, “What do you think of Napolitano saying that they’re not terrorists, they’re man caused disasters.” Myers was careful when her responded “I don’t know the context of what the secretary was trying to say. We can’t deny the fact that there are violent extremists out there… words count and we need to be careful about what we call things." While he was speaking there was a split screen of Napolitano speaking while the chyron read “Say what, Napolitano avoids talking terrorism.” Myers spoke briefly about the possibility of negotiating with the Taliban before the interview ended. (Comment: half of the interview, which could have focused on other salient issues, was used as platform for Fox’s new propaganda point. Kinda disrespectful of Myers?)

Later that evening, Sean Hannity picked up the same meme. His video backdrop was a photo of Napolitano beside a dictionary with the caption “watch your language.” He claimed that “she told the German newspaper Der Spiegel that she's not going to use the word "terrorism" because it perpetuates the politics of fear. Instead, she'll call terrorist murders "man-caused disasters." He read her Der Spiegal quote: "I did not use the word 'terrorism,' I referred to 'man-caused' disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur." And in his most Hanctimonious manner proclaimed “Madam Secretary, if you can't even call it by its name, how exactly do you plan to protect us against it? Shying away from the word "terrorism" in an effort to be politically correct is cowardly, not courageous.” The chyron read Napolitano says she will no longer use the word terrorism.”

Comment: As propaganda pieces, these two examples are exemplary. Contrary to Kilmeade, nobody is saying that we can’t say terrorism. Janet Napolitano has not “removed” the word from her vocabulary. Contrary to Hannity, Napolitano has not said that she will no longer use the word terrorism. There is nothing in the interview to suggest that. In the interview with Der Spiegel, she was explaining why she didn’t use the term when she presented her first testimony to congress. She also said, and one can see why Fox doesn’t go any further with her words, that her policies will be guided by “authoritative information.” She also mentioned that the US would like to share, with the Germans, American “experiences with counter-radicalization, how the radicalization of young Muslims in our countries can be prevented.” Also discussed were the border situation and immigration. But Fox had to focus on an instance when Napolitano did not conform to the standard right wing lexicon of fear mongering words and then distort what she said with an inference that does not seem to be borne out by her words in the interview. In do doing, Fox engaged in their trademark fearmongering about democrats. The “deflection of reality" should be substituted for “real journalism, fair and balanced.”