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Hannity, Pimpin' for Hannah Giles' Legal Defense Fund

Reported by Julie - September 25, 2009 -

I usually can’t stomach Sean Hannity, even for a minute – the honor of watching Hannity is usually left to News Hounds' resident nerves-of-steel, Ellen – but last night I inadvertently watched him for a brief moment, and caught ACORN-buster, maybe-law-breaker, and fake-prostitute Hannah Giles (News Hounds has reported on her ACORN sting operation here and here, among other articles) on his show – with attorney in tow – to talk about the lawsuit ACORN has filed against her, her partner-in-pimping James O’Keefe, and Andrew Breitbart, the conservative wunderkind who posted Giles’ and O’Keefe’s sting videos on his website. Hannity gave Giles and her lawyer, Kelly Shackelford (featured on radical right group Focus on the Family Action’s Citizenlink.com), Chief Counsel of the Liberty Legal Institute (the same group that spent almost $200,000 to shut down Sarah Palin’s “Troopergate” investigation), a forum to play the “oh it’s for the greater good so I’m above the law” victim. Oh, yeah, and Hannity also went so far as to pimp for Giles’ legal defense fund, offering her assistance and free advertising on Fox (“we’ll help you, we’ll put out the word”) if she needs a lawyer -- or money to pay for one. With video.

Hannity, of course, had to spend a little time gloating about the embarrassing recording Giles and O’Keefe made of ACORN workers, and other assorted calamities that have befallen ACORN recently. He reported that Maryland requires two-party consent for recording, and that ACORN is suing the duo for what they deem the illegal recording (along with Andrew Breitbart, the liberal-sting guru who posted the video), and is asking the court to block the further distribution of the video, as well as award damages for the harm to ACORN’s reputation.

Roll out the Pretty Woman carpet – heeeeere’s Hannah.

Like O’Reilly, Hannity seemed pretty cavalier about the possibility that Giles and O’Keefe broke Maryland law when they executed their sting operation.

Asked for her reaction to the lawsuit ACORN has filed, Giles responded blandly, “I think it’s kind of silly right now, I mean I’m a 20-year-old girl being sued for $5 million dollars . . . .”

“Scare you a little bit?” Hannity asked, voice dripping with sympathy.

“Not necessarily, I’ve got good defense counsel right now . . . just taking it as it comes,” Giles said in her usual toneless delivery.

Hannity was brimming with enthusiasm, saying, “Kelly, this is great, discovery for ACORN. This gives you a lot of latitude in terms of getting involved in this organization, their finances, their hiring, etc.. . . . .”

Kelly launched his victim card: “To us this is just clearly an attempt to bully a 20-year-old girl, I mean, it’s an attempt to intimidate and to chill speech and freedom of the press [oh, right, the press -- is that what we’re calling her now?] . . . We haven’t even been served with this lawsuit yet but from what we’ve heard it’s just a baseless lawsuit . . . We live in a country with the First Amendment . . . certainly citizen journalists like Hannah have protection and the idea that you now get sued if you expose corruption . . . .” Damn, he’s even a lawyer and doesn’t get the First Amendment. The First Amendment doesn’t protect people like Giles, who throw themselves into the marketplace of public opinion, from criticism – or lawsuits. The First Amendment protects people from GOVERNMENT interference. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Last time I looked, ACORN isn’t Congress.

And let’s not forget that the lawsuit isn’t about the pair “exposing corruption;” it’s about the possibility that, in their zeal to take down ACORN for its illegal actions, they committed illegal actions themselves. Yes, people who break the law really do need to be stopped – and, in this case, that may mean silenced.

Hannity tried to minimize the Maryland law-breaking, asking Kelly, “What do you make of the Maryland statute? . . . They must have had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation . . . Two people walk into your office I don’t think you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that situation, do you?” So, by that logic, if two parents and their child have a conference with the school principal, and the school guidance counselor, security guard, and teacher are present, that negates any expectation of privacy?

Kelly enthusiastically agreed, saying, “The statute is very specific, it says it has to be ‘ a private conversation’ . . . anyone who views this tape can see that it was not a private conversation, there were over ten people in the room, the ACORN folks were pretty loud themselves . . . I think it’s just baseless . . . sued by this powerful special interest, I’m sure they think they’re gonna shut her up, but I just don’t think they know Hannah very well . . . She’s certainly gonna stand for, not only her rights, but for the country.” I don’t know about you, but I sure thank my lucky stars there are lawyers like Kelly around to tell us that we’re not entitled to an expectation of privacy if we’re raucous, or if more than one of our organizations’ workers participate in a conference. Expectation of privacy = one quiet person only.

Giles whined that, “Bertha Lewis herself said that James and I did a favor exposing the corruption within her own company, so when they came at us with a $5 million lawsuit it was kind of shocking.”

Hannity led her shamelessly, asking, “Do you think in your mind this is an effort to intimidate you and silence you and stop you guys from what you’re doing?”

Giles intoned, “We’ve encouraged the youth, young people likes us, journalists, to fight for what’s right . . . and I think they’re frightened that we’ve just stirred things up . . . Everyone from young children to retired generals have been absolutely supportive of us . . . they’re excited about the future and they’re excited to live in America.” And I want world peace, and for no one to go hungry, and my favorite thing is a walk on the beach . . . .

Hannity claimed, “They may actually use part of your money [taxpayer dollars] . . . he [President Obama] had earmarked 8.5 billion for the organization . . . perhaps some of that money is gonna be used to go after you, does that make you angry?” Okay, Hannity: You lie. This multi-billion number has been debunked since Michele “Conspiracy Theory” Bachmann tried it on months ago. ACORN is admittedly (or was) eligible to apply for government funds – but as reported by PolitFact, “CDBGs have been around since 1974. Obama is seeking to increase the CDBG budget from about $3.6 billion in 2009 to $4.2 billion next year. And then there's the additional $1 billion for CDBGs in the stimulus. But the point is, this isn't some new pot of money that hasn't been available in years past. To the extent ACORN has been eligible for CDBG money for decades, it is available to ACORN now . . . But the fact is, ACORN isn't eligible for CDBG funding. At least not for the controversial voter registration efforts that Republican leaders claim are a willful effort to forward the group's liberal agenda.”

“Not angry . . . but I think it’s kind of funny, and odd,” Giles said eloquently (not).

Hannity then launched into a discussion of President Obama’s “full Ginsberg” on the news organizations last weekend (all but Fox – he dissed them) and the President’s comment that ACORN “deserves to be investigated.”

“. . . Seems like the President’s on your side,” Hannity said happily. Oh, he likes Obama now!

“That’s good news,” Giles said politely.

Kelly chimed in, saying, “When you have a citizen who exposes corruption . . . and then the result is that powerful interest. . . tries to crush the person who exposed it, you know, we can’t let that stand.”

Hannity wondered if “this is gonna happen . . . in these other states as well?”

Kelly dodged that question, instead saying, “. . . If they really do serve Hannah with this . . . we plan to get this thrown out of court . . . we still have freedom in this country and citizens can expose the truth.”

“Hannah, if you get in trouble and you need the lawyer . . . we can help you, we’ll put out the word, I’m sure there’s a lot of people that may want to help you with a legal defense fund, and if you get to that point let us know and we’ll be glad to bring you back on.”

Kelly chimed in, dollar signs in his eyes, saying “We’ve got it right now . . . defendhannah.com to support Hannah in this defense.”

I’m sure Hannity will offer ACORN a legal defense fund, too. After all, Fox is “fair and balanced.”