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Hannity Provides Falsehoods To Support His False Definition Of Socialism

Reported by Ellen - March 27, 2009 -

Sean Hannity is so intent on bringing down the Obama administration that he just can't throw enough epithets at them. One of his favorites is to cry "socialism!" an accusation he makes several times a night. Last night (3/26/09), during an interview with J.C. Watts, an African American Republican, Hannity tried but failed to get Watts to join him in the accusation, leaving Hannity to sputter, “But that's socialism!” Watts stuck to his guns, saying that Obama's plan may be big government, may be something Watts disagrees with, but it's not socialism. It's about time Hannity learned what the definition of socialism is (and you'd think “fair and balanced” FOX News would insist upon it). According to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, the primary definition is: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. Not even Hannity has asserted that Obama is trying to take over the means of production and distribution of goods. But not surprisingly, Hannity offered falsehoods to support his false description of socialism. With video.

During the interview with Watts, Hannity said, “You have been a little bit more willing than me to give (Obama) a little bit more slack but I think he is making catastrophic mistakes that we're all gonna pay for. Why do we have that difference, considering we agree on so much?”

Watts replied, “I don't think that he's a socialist. I think that he believes that we should have more taxes. I believe we should have fewer taxes. He believes that stem cell research is OK. I...”

Hannity interrupted, obviously impatient with Watts' respectful differences with the president. “Hang on a second...”

But Watts kept going. “I think there's just, there's a difference of philosophy that could be 180 from each other but at the same time, I think that's an ideology that he stated pretty clearly during the course of his campaign.”

Hannity, not to be deterred, said, “But isn't that a socialist agenda?” Counting off on his fingers, Hannity began, “Look, if they wanna, if they wanna mandate what executive pay is gonna be – even for companies that don't get bailouts...” Where's a buzzer when you need one? As usual with Hannity, there's a germ of truth that he has twisted for maximum histrionic value. The New York Times reported that the administration is considering regulations about executive pay, but that's a far cry from “mandating what executive pay is gonna be.” After all, we have regulations about buildings, for example, but that doesn't mean the government mandates what your house looks like. As Media Matters has documented, in his March 24 written testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner specifically stated he was not interested in restricting employee compensation other than at "financial institutions that are receiving government assistance.”

Hannity continued, “If they want the right to take over companies that aren't even getting bailouts...”

Maybe not worth a "buzzer" but misleading all the same. What the administration wants is the right to take over failing financial institutions that are not banks but whose instability would threaten the stability of other financial institutions, like AIG – similar to the way the FDIC now takes over banks.

It's worth noting that this is at least the second time Hannity has put forward this misleading talking point and it has yet to be corrected on “fair and balanced” FOX.

Hannity added, “If they want to maybe nationalize banks, if they're gonna spend trillions and trillions of dollars, more debt than all the debt accumulated from George Washington to George W. Bush, that's socialism to me.”

Another buzzer please. As noted above, Hannity can call that socialism for the rest of Obama's term but that doesn't make it so.

Watts correctly said, “Sean, I think it's big government.” Watts said he had written a column recently saying that there are some vices in big business as bad as big government. “So I think when you have a lack of oversight... nationalizing these banks, government-run health care, I just think that's the wrong policy. Whatever people want to call it is up to them.”