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Hannity Offers A Brief Summary Of Haitian Catastrophe, Then Two Segments On Massachusetts Senate Race

Reported by Ellen - January 16, 2010 -

Sean Hannity gave the catastrophe in Haiti a quick summary last night (1/15/10), then moved on to spend the next two entire segments on the Massachusetts Senate race. Given Hannity's dismal record on racial issues (this is the guy who presented the Jena 6 case as a matter of reverse racism), it's not so surprising.

As Media Matters noted, Fox News’ three top programs (The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity and Glenn Beck) gave less than 21 minutes of combined coverage of the earthquake in Haiti on January 13 and 14 (the quake happened on January 12). Hannity repeated that pattern last night as he gave a quick summary of the day's events at the opening of his show, then spent most of the rest of the hour alternately promoting the Republican candidate in the upcoming Massachusetts senate race and attacking President Obama, Democrats, the left, etc.

My recorder missed the opening seconds of the show but the scope of the disaster in Haiti is still apparent in the video below. Hannity noted that between 9,000 and 10,000 American troops are going to Haiti, as is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Then he announced, “The Haitian national police have virtually disappeared in the wake of this tragedy and a 3,000 member peace keeping force is now trying to maintain law and order.”

It's a terrifying, horrific scenario. As the CBC reported, there are 50,000 known dead, and possibly 150,000 more, and the desperation and tensions are rising as a high proportion of Haiti’s three million people go without food, water, shelter or electricity. But none of that was deemed worthy by Hannity and the Fox News producers of a moment more of consideration. Instead, they offered two in-depth segments on the Massachusetts senate election next week along with the usual round of Obama, Democrat and liberal bashing.

Eric Boehlert has an interesting post opining on Fox News’ paucity of Haiti coverage. He points to two reasons:

First, outside of Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, Fox News doesn't do foreign coverage. Period. It has no commitment to global journalism. And second, because the Haiti natural disaster does not have an obvious partisan angle, Fox News doesn't really know what to do. Without an RNC, Obama-hating talking point to guide the newsroom, Fox News seems clearly adrift as they grapple with practicing actual who/what/where/why/how journalism. (It's like trying to speak that second language that you haven't used since high school.)

I agree completely. But I’d add that there’s also a racial/class angle. Let’s face it, the poor black people suffering in Haiti are not the kind of people the Fox News audience is interested in or even has much sympathy for. Each of the three top hosts has a dubious, at best, record on race. One has to think that their audiences are at least sympathetic to those views. The comments on Fox Nation suggest the same (as does the fact that such comments are repeatedly allowed by the moderators). The comments on Fox Nation's top post about Haiti, with the unsympathetic title "Shocking Pics of Haiti Quake," suggests that their audience echoes those sentiments and more. To be fair, most of the comments are kind and decent. But many of the ones that are not have distinct undertones of racism: