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Did Hannity And Bachmann Just Make Up Their Account Of Bachmann’s Health Care Protest?

Reported by Ellen - November 6, 2009 -

Sean Hannity took time out from covering the shootings at Fort Hood to give some PR for Michele Bachmann’s tea party protest in Washington earlier yesterday (11/5/09). The two grossly exaggerated the crowd size, perpetuated a fiction that no astroturfing had occurred and left out any mentions of the extremist, anti-Obama signs, many of which had nothing to do with health care reform. With video.

Before introducing Bachmann and Rep. Steve King, whom Hannity introduced as another organizer of the event, Hannity gave a little promotion for the Republican version of the health care bill – falsely claiming that the bill “would lower health care premiums.” Hannity forgot to mention that the overwhelming majority of Americans would remain uninsured, though he did trumpet that the bill would “end junk lawsuits.”

Next, Hannity misrepresented the size of the crowd at the protest. “20 plus thousand people showed up,” he said. Hannity had used that number during his radio show earlier in the day, then drastically dialed it back to “5,000 people plus there.” That lower number is in line with what the Capitol Hill police estimated. Hannity never explained where he got the “20 plus thousand” figure from. But Foxnews.com lifted it directly from Americans for Prosperity. What a nice little symbiosis they all had going!

Bachmann told Hannity she had “no idea” so many people would show up. Well, she shouldn’t have. Because they didn’t. But it certainly wasn’t for lack of publicity on Fox. Bachmann not only kicked off her protest on Hannity last week and got another plug on Fox & Friends this week, but Glenn Beck and Fox Nation joined in the effort, too. She also got plenty of help from the astroturfing specialists, Americans For Prosperity, the corporate front group that helped organize the event and provided buses to bring protesters there free of charge. Not that Hannity thought that worth mentioning when he was extolling the (phony) size of the crowd.

Bachmann gushed, “This was totally word of mouth. This was nothing that we organized, nothing that we planned… We didn’t order one bus, one carload.” Maybe she didn’t, but Americans for Prosperity did. Think Progress spoke with some of their staffers working the event. One worker estimated they had about 40 buses. You can see the interview in the second video below.

“Estimates were between 20 and 45,000 people,” Bachmann said. She offered no explanation or sources for those “estimates.”

Then, perhaps unable to control her own exaggerations, Bachmann went on to claim that one reason Nancy Pelosi now lacks the votes to pass the House version of health care reform was because of the great turnout that day (Bachmann also claimed that Tuesday’s election was another factor.) “It spoke volumes to the members of Congress and it’s continuing to have ramifications on Capitol Hill,” Bachmann said. She never explained what those ramifications might be. Hannity didn’t ask, either.

By the way, Bachmann can’t be bothered to take emails from anyone outside of her district. But you can call her at (202) 225-2331. Feel free to let her know that there are plenty of real Americans who disagree with her version of reality. You can also email Hannity at Hannity@foxnews.com.