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Chicago Tribune Reporter Blasts Fox News And Hannity For “Hijacking” His Credibility

Reported by Ellen - August 7, 2009 -

Earlier in the week, I posted about Hannity’s sensationalized and misleading “Special Investigation” baselessly suggesting that Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias is a mob-connected “protégé” of President Barack Obama. Since then Giannoulias has come out swinging against the report in a diary on Daily Kos. calling the piece “long on falsehoods, misinformation and guilt by association and short on facts. And of course, they are not doing 'Special Investigations' on the problems facing everyday Illinoisans.” OK, no big surprise there. Hannity was not named Media Matters’ Misinformer of 2008 for being a stickler for the truth. And there’s always another side to a story, though Hannity’s “Special Investigations” rarely finds one. But what is unusual about this case is that the reporter quoted in Hannity's report, Rick Pearson, is objecting to how he was hoodwinked by Fox into lending credibility to a hit piece that would otherwise have none. Pearson likened the incident to “identity theft.”

In an interview on Chicago radio station WGN, Pearson said, “I got hijacked the other night. Actually, my credibility got hijacked and I'm not happy about it. [...]

A week ago, I was contacted by a producer for Fox News and was asked if I would mind coming over to tape a segment for …a news segment about the upcoming U.S. Senate race in Illinois, with Democratic Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Republican congressman Mark Kirk as the respective candidates of their parties.

Went over there, sat for an interview, talked about both Treasurer Giannoulias and also about Mark Kirk. And they said, "Thank you very much. We'll send you a note when your segment airs."

Instead of appearing in a newscast, Pearson later got an email saying that the interview would air on Hannity.

Pearson accurately described Hannity’s segment as “A six-minute, twenty-second attack on Alexi Giannoulias” that “did not mention Mark Kirk at all, except of course that he was the leading Republican.”

Pearson acknowledged that his own comments were portrayed accurately. But he thought the context “hijacked” his own credibility. “It was billed as a "special investigation" featuring grainy photos of Bill Ayers and various assorted misdeeds -- [...]
I'm there to lend them credibility is what they did. And that's why I feel my credibility was hijacked by this. [...]

Frankly, Hannity has had people on before that were not qualified to really tell you what the price of a loaf of bread is in a grocery store. I'm not a politically ideological person. I don't pick sides to root for here -- any of that stuff. And for a legitimate news segment, I have no problem with that. But to really, kind of, had this happen to me -- I mean, it's almost like an identity theft kind of thing in a way, because all I have is my credibility. And I know that show doesn't have any.”

We couldn’t agree more.