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Olbermann offers $1000 per Second to Charity if Hannity Undergoes Waterboarding. The question is: Which Charity?

Reported by Alex - April 24, 2009 -

As Ellen reported on Wednesday, Sean Hannity, while attempting to interview / getting pwnd by Charles Grodin, ended up agreeing that he would undergo waterboarding for charity. As one would expect, there has been an overwhelming response on the blogs - including insidecatholic.com - from people who are more than willing to pay to see that.

So last night, Keith Olbermann very publicly challenged Hannity by offering to put his (Keith's) money where Hannity's mouth and nose should be, offering to pay a charity $1000 for every second Hannity can endure waterboarding. Crooks and Liars has the video and transcript.

But whooooaaaah, hold on there! Red flag alert: Charity??? Which charity?

Updated with Olbermann's latest statement at end of post. H/T Abby.
Updated with video

Hannity made a point of saying he would “do it for the troops’ families”. Now, what charity might Seannie poo want to channel that money through to get it to the troops' families? Any chance his charity of choice might be Oliver North’s “Freedom Alliance” ?

As you may know, the Freedom Concerts (now called the ”Hannity Freedom Concerts”) promoted by Freedom Alliance have been a Hannity Vanity project since 2003, supposedly raising money to help families of our troops by contributing to the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund. However, the FA’s track record ain’t so good, receiving an “F" rating for the fiscal year ending in 2007 from charity watchdog group, the American Institute of Philanthropy. As I checked out their site I picked up a couple of additional tidbits: Interestingly, the Freedom Alliance have not complied with requests from the Institute for their documentation for y/e 2008. Even more interesting is the scuttlebutt on the five-star “Best in America” seal of approval from “Independent Charities of America” which is prominently displayed on the Freedom Alliance pages. According to the AIP , “ICA is funded by the very charities that use its seal, and… generally does not screen charities for financial efficiency”. It also tells us that “The CFC even cautions donors on its web site to not read too much into its standards, saying ‘The CFC review does not evaluate whether an organization uses its donations efficiently. Each individual donor is responsible for evaluating this type of information.” Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse!! In case anyone missed the point, the AIP concludes that “Since CFC and ICA eligibility standards do not measure the efficiency with which participating charities use donations, the fact that a charity participates in the CFC or uses ICA's "Best in America" seal may not be the most useful information for donors on which to base giving decisions. Many groups that prominently display ICA's "Best in America" seal are F rated by AIP.” Like Freedom Alliance was last time they let the AIP look at their paperwork.

The Freedom Alliance also boasts that it is a Charity Navigator Four-Star Charity, which technically checks out; however, this tells us nothing about how much of the money raised by Hannity’s Freedom Concerts was actually paid into Freedom Alliance, whether it was used for scholarships or for some of the less defined activities of the Alliance (such as “defending the sovereignty of the United States and promoting a strong national defense” - something like Iran/Contra, eh, Ollie?), nor whether or how much Hannity himself was paid for his work. Unfortunately, the IRS form 990 was not available online at this time, but I intend to check back. Perhaps one of our readers (Antoinette and the Stop Hannity Express?) will have the relevant info.

In any case, caveat emptor, or perhaps I should say, caveat donor . If Hannity goes ahead with his self-promoting waterboarding experiment, let’s hope he gets more than he bargains for in the discomfort department so that he is forced to admit that waterboarding is torture - and lets raise a fuss in whatever way we can to ensure that the money goes to a reputable and transparent charity.

(H/T to MTL for posting the Olbermann link on our rockin’ Newshounds Off-Topic Forum.)

Update: Keith Olbermann elaborates on his challenge to Hannity at Daily Kos. His update includes this statement:

Hannity must identify the charity or charities, organization or organizations, to which he wants the donation made, so I can verify in advance that the money will indeed get to the families of American troops. The organization cannot be sponsored by, nor affiliated with, Hannity or his employers

Be sure to read Olbermann's entire post. He's put it up to Hannity bigtime, and also makes some astute observations about the likely reactions from Hannity and his sheeple after Hannity towels off.

Freedom alliance

Freedom Alliance Awards Itself “Best In America”;
American Institute of Philanthropy Awards it an “F”.

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Olbermann challenges Hannity on Waterboarding