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Hannity Uses School Fight As “Proof” Chicago Should Not Hold Olympics

Reported by Ellen - September 30, 2009 -

Sean Hannity, the guy who accuses other people of hating America, was up in arms that an American president, Obama, was advocating for an American city, Chicago, to hold the Olympics. As part of the smear, “Great American” Sean Hannity twice last night (9/29/09) aired a video of the beating death of a Chicago teen as “proof” that Chicago is not fit to be chosen. Democrat Julie Menin missed an opportunity to confront Hannity and Fox on their tactics. With video.

Hannity was following in the footsteps of Drudge and Michelle Malkin in linking the Chicago teen’s death to the Olympics. He was also reiterating a Fox News theme by attacking Obama for flying to Copenhagen to promote Chicago as an Olympic host. But Hannity’s own effort to link the teen’s death to Obama said more about Hannity than it did about Obama or Chicago.

Hannity opened the segment by playing the video, gravely warning that the video was “extremely graphic and can be very difficult to watch.” That didn't stop the producers from airing it at least two more times on the show.

With a straight face, Hannity announced, “Now this story has turned political,” after he played the video. What he meant was, he was going to make it political – not by discussing any of the political solutions for teen violence or gangs, or even by showing anything more than a passing interest in the problem – but by attacking President Obama, though the fight had absolutely nothing to do with either him or the Olympics.

“Obama will travel to Denmark to support Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics,” Hannity continued. “But in light of this tragedy, and all of the pressing issues facing the country, is the President making the right move?”

So having immediately washed his hands of the teen tragedy (the one he was suggesting Obama should cancel his trip to handle), Hannity also jettisoned any real issues surrounding hosting the Olympics as well as any national pride about our country's participation in such a prestigious event. Instead, Hannity chose two political operatives, former Bush press secretary Dana Perino and Democrat Julie Menin, so he could focus on attacking Obama.

“That video was some of the most difficult video to watch,” Hannity said. So difficult, Hannity played it later in the show, during the Great American panel segment.

Hannity did pause to wonder, “You can go back to Rodney King… What has happened to these kids that they could take a board and beat this kid to death, kick him in the head?” As he spoke, B roll footage replayed the video.

As Menin objected that there was nothing political about the video, Hannity disagreed. “It’s become political in this sense. The president’s going to go try and convince the Olympic Committee to Chicago.”

Yeah, so? Menin, who does a decent job on Fox, passed up the opportunity to highlight and challenge the' anti-Obama agenda in such a ridiculous attempt to connecting the two, unrelated events.

To her credit, Perino pointed out that that type of school violence happens “all over America.”

Menin said, “The crime rate is down (in Chicago), the lowest it’s been in 40 years.”

Apparently, nobody had a comeback for that, so Hannity moved on to attacking Obama by baselessly suggesting that Obama had made television appearances and now the Olympics a priority over Afghanistan, unemployment and the economy.

As Menin rightly pointed out that Obama was making only a 15-hour trip, Hannity interrupted to say that General McChrystal had asked for more troops in August. If you ask me, that’s even more proof that the brief trip to Copenhagen now has nothing to do with the long-standing problem of Afghanistan.

Though she argued that it was “interesting” that Obama’s participation reflected a change in our tradition of having the private sector handle the Olympics, Perino later admitted that it wasn’t a big deal. “If they get the Olympics, it‘ll be fine.”

As the discussion moved on to policy in Afghanistan, Menin made the mistake so many Democrats make on Fox News: She acted as though she were there to have a real policy discussion and went on to make her own criticism of the president. That may be fine in other venues but on Fox News, a) it plays right into the host’s agenda which is always anti-Democratic and b) it prevents a guest from reframing the discussion, as any Democratic guest should, and putting a spotlight on Fox News’ divisive, anti-Democratic tactics.

Menin did, however, warm my heart when she questioned Hannity's Olympic spirit. In my not so humble opinion, that was a fine example of the kind of reframing all Democrats on Fox should employ. Hannity insisted he had Olympic spirit (though he certainly fooled me) before adding, “I’m also concerned about people that aren’t working. I’m also concerned about troops.”

That would have been the perfect moment for Menin to ask why, then, has Hannity ignored the troops in Afghanistan for so many years until now? When, for example, was the last time Hannity discussed the effect of stop-loss on troops? When was the last time he discussed how the war in Iraq adversely affected the war in Afghanistan? But, unfortunately, Menin took Hannity at his word.