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More Comprehension Problems From Hannity: This Time, He Misunderstands The CIA Torture Report And Howard Dean’s Comments About Republicans

Reported by Ellen - August 26, 2009 -

Along with Media Matters, we’ve been noting Sean Hannity’s major problems with reading comprehension lately. On last night’s Hannity (8/25/09), he misunderstood what the CIA’s report said about the effectiveness of Enhanced Interrogations Techniques and he misunderstood what Howard Dean said about Republicans opposing Obama’s health care reform. Fox News' Griff Jenkins joined in the incomprehension. He also misunderstood what Dean said and selectively cropped a town hall incident to misrepresent Rep. Jim Moran's handling of hecklers. With video.

The segment, an interview with Tim Pawlenty, opened with a report from Griff Jenkins in which he demonstrated his own comprehension problems, in this case with Howard Dean. At a town hall meeting with Dean, Jenkins said Dean had taken “some criticism” on blogs for comments he had made about Republicans opposing Obama’s health care reform. Jenkins showed a clip of Dean saying on MSNBC, “This shrinking Republican Party is just determined to undermine President Obama and, unfortunately, you have to undermine the country in order to undermine the president. I think that’s too bad.”

Jenkins confronted Dean about the remarks, adding snarkily that Dean “seems to have changed his tune a little bit.” In reality, it was Jenkins who changed Dean’s tune. In their confrontation, Jenkins said to Dean, “You said last night on a program that ‘Republicans opposing the president’s initiative… were undermining the country.’ Could you clarify that for me?”

“I didn’t say that,” Dean correctly responded. “I did not say that.”

“I have the quote right here, Sir,” Jenkins said.

Next, Jenkins showed a clip of the attendees making such a ruckus at the town hall when Dean was introduced that Rep. Jim Moran interrupted to say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t even hear the governor and I’m sitting next to him. They really don’t belong here and I’m going to ask them to leave.”

But Jenkins – or someone – had selectively edited Moran. Politico reported him saying, “I’m sorry but I can’t even hear the governor and I’m sitting next to him. There are hundreds of people in this gymnasium who can't hear him because of a handful of people," Moran said. "These folks are not from the 8th District, they don't really belong here, and I'm going to ask them to leave.”

Jenkins also neglected to mention that anti-abortion activist Randall Terry (the Christian right crusader who “jokes” about being Alan Colmes’ ex-lover) had announced in advance he planned to disrupt the proceedings. He made good on that promise by screaming accusations that Dean was a “baby killer.”

Politico also noted what Jenkins did not, that Moran offered Terry five minutes of floor time to ask a question in exchange for quiet, but Terry refused and was muscled out of the meeting, as the crowd chanted, “Kick him out.”

Jenkins offered a far more Randall-friendly, anti-Democratic summary, “one person was escorted out, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry.”

Hannity was quick to jump on the incomprehension bandwagon. “Dr. Dean did say, ‘undermine our country,’” he distorted. Then Hannity whined about Dean and Moran “asking people to leave, they don’t belong here,” completely missing the context of who was asked to leave and why. Instead, “Great American” Hannity asked, “Since when do American citizens not belong confronting their public servants? That new in America?”

No, at least not to Hannity. It was more than six years ago that democracy-loving Hannity attacked the Dixie Chicks on Hannity & Colmes (transcript free with registration) for speaking out against President Bush. He also said on the same show, “All these anti-war -- frankly, I'm sick of hearing from them… And then you've got Tom Daschle on the eve of war attacking the president the way he did today. It was disgraceful.”

Tim Pawlenty’s anti-Democratic comments strongly suggest he’s mulling a run for president. He called the town hall disruptions “the sights and sounds of democracy in action… I think that should be applauded.” (I tried to find what he had to say about the Dixie Chicks in 2003 but couldn’t find anything.) He went on to say, “If anybody’s undermining the direction of the country, I think it’s people like Dr. Dean… Having the Democrats watch your money… is like having Michael Vick watch your dog for the weekend.” Hardy har har.

Finally, Hannity turned to the torture report. “I think these guys are heros,” Hannity said, presumably referring to the torturers. Sure he does. Hannity loves the idea of torture, but after offering to undergo waterboarding, himself, for charity, Hannity has ducked several offers.

Hannity continued, “If you look at page 85, the government, in its own report, actually admits that the program was more successful. Every CIA director has said that it was more successful, they got more intelligence, more information, saved more lives than all of our intelligence communities combined.” Actually, that’s not what it says on page 85. On page 85, the report states, in a paragraph titled, “Effectiveness,” The detention of terrorists has prevented them from engaging in further terrorist activity, and their interrogation has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists, warned of terrorists plots planned for the Untied States and around the world, and supported articles frequently used in the finished intelligence publications for senior policymakers and war fighters. In this regard, there is no doubt that the Program has been effective. Measuring the effectiveness of EITs (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques), however, is a more subjective process and not without some concern.”

As Spencer Ackerman noted (h/t Alan Colmes) about Cheney’s claims that the memos vindicated him, Hannity seems to have conflated the difference between information acquired from detainees, which the documents present, and information acquired from detainees through the enhanced interrogation program, which they don’t.