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Hannity Misinterpreted Politico Report To Claim Obama Was Required To Authorize Pirate Rescue

Reported by Ellen - April 14, 2009 -

The moment I heard about the successful and daring rescue of the American ship captain from Somali pirates, I thought of Sean Hannity, envisioning him furiously searching for grounds to undermine any good publicity that President Obama might gain from the incident. Given last night's (4/13/09) edition of Hannity, I think it's more likely Hannity immediately barked instructions into his Blackberry for his assistant to do the digging. Either way, Hannity may want to do a better job of checking the results next time and not allowing his desperation for discrediting Obama overtake his reasoning. Seizing upon Politico's report that “Obama's involvement in the decision to authorize lethal force was legally required,” Hannity repeatedly misinterpreted that to mean that Obama was legally required to authorize lethal force. With video.

Hannity repeated his misapprehension many times during the show last night but most notably during his discussion with Bernard Goldberg.

“As soon as the (rescue) success came in... (the Obama administration was) racing to take credit,” Hannity said disdainfully. If he's right, I'm sure that Hannity (or his assistant) gave the White House quite a run for their money.

Goldberg (he of the liberal bias in the dictionary outlook) was a surprising voice of reason. Goldberg thought Obama handled the crisis in a “very smart” way. He continued by telling Hannity, “There's another issue that troubles me.... and it troubles me a lot.” Goldberg said he thought the right has been treating Obama the way the left treated George W. Bush. “I don't want to put Barack Obama on Mt. Rushmore for simply being the Commander-in-Chief, but we have to stop going out of our way to find fault with every single thing he does.”

Hannity, feigning goodwill toward Obama, said he didn't want Goldberg to “misunderstand,” then immediately moved on to complain about an “orchestrated effort” for Obama to take credit for the rescue. Hannity added, “But what we've now discovered is, according to the Politico, is that in fact he was legally required to sign on to this. There was no great decision here, in other words.” Hannity further complained, “I'm seeing the media praise him or overly praise him for something he legally was told by his team he had to do.”

The Politico article Hannity was evidently referring to is clearly (although not to Hannity) reporting that the snipers could not shoot without Obama's authorization -- not that Obama was required to give authorization:

The exact details of the shooting remain murky. The snipers fired after all three pirates became visible on the enclosed lifeboat where they were holding Phillips, a Navy official in Bahrain told reporters — giving the snipers the chance to kill all three at once, so that none would be left behind to harm Phillips.

Obama's involvement in the decision to authorize lethal force was legally required, officials said, because it was a hostage situation, not combat, and unrelated to the already authorized U.S. effort against Al Qaeda and other terror groups, officials said.

“It’s not a combat operation, so the lawyers wanted to ensure this was done right," said a second defense official.

Goldberg seemed to realize what had in reality been required of Obama but refrained from embarrassing his host. Instead, he reiterated that the right should stop “behaving like the left” did toward Bush.

So Hannity reiterated his attacks on Obama. “If I'm discovering here that legally he had to do it, and his PR team led by “Rahmbo” Emanuel are out there, you know, grabbing credit... there seems to me to be something wrong and that that whole story's not being told.”

Goldberg told Hannity, “If something bad happened here, I guarantee you, I'll tell you who would have been leading the crusade against (Obama): you.”

Hannity, still bound and determined to smear Obama said, “They (the Obama administration) raced to grab the credit and, apparently, we're discovering, that legally he had no other option.”

Hannity added, “If you're going to take credit for something you really didn't have any choice on, then I think you're manipulating the American people.”

And if, in your eagerness to malign your political opposition, neither you nor your producers bother to fact check your accusations, THAT'S manipulating the American people.

These guys must be losing it! First, Neil Cavuto brags about "fair and balanced" FOX News coverage of the Million Man March, even though the March occurred about a year before FOX News launched, and now this. More and more, truth seems to be optional on FOX News.