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Hannity Distorts Jimmy Carter’s Words To Claim He Objected To Being Compared To Obama

Reported by Ellen - February 25, 2010 -

Either Sean Hannity has a serious reading comprehension problem or he didn’t bother to actually read the letter from former President Jimmy Carter to Foreign Affairs trumpeted on last night’s (2/24/10) Hannity as an indication that “President Obama has made such a mess that even Jimmy Carter is now distancing himself from the President.” In fact, it was pretty clear just from the excerpt Hannity read on the air that Carter was unhappy about the journal’s characterization of his own presidency as the “worst scenario” that could befall the Obama administration, not complaining about being compared to Obama, as Hannity claimed. Apparently, Fox News producers and writers suffered from the same comprehension difficulties because they posted a similarly misleading banner on the screen during the segment and a fallacious title for the video on Foxnews.com. With video.

Hannity opened the Hannity’s America segment by saying, “And tonight, in Hannity’s America, former President Jimmy Carter is fuming. Now given Carter’s disastrous record in office, you would think that he would be happy to be compared to the Annointed One. But apparently, President Obama has made such a mess that even Jimmy Carter is now distancing himself from the President. Now, when foreign policy analyst Walter Russell Mead compared the two, in the journal Foreign Affairs, Carter submitted a letter to the editor noting his displeasure. 'I resent Mead’s use of such phrases as ‘In the worst scenario turn him (Obama) into a new Jimmy Carter’ …to describe my service.’ He concludes that during his presidency, ‘We greatly expanded our global influence and also protected the security, strength, ideals, and integrity of the U.S.’”

Hannity finished by saying snidely, “Now judging by the way things are going, I predict by 2012, probably President Obama will want to be compared to Carter.”

As Hannity spoke, a banner on the lower third of the screen read, “Jimmy Carter upset Pres Obama is being compared to him.”

The only problem? Carter said absolutely nothing of the sort. The excerpt, alone, read by Hannity indicated that Carter was defending his own presidency, not commenting on Obama’s. Even a quick look at the article Carter was objecting to makes it pretty clear that the author was not comparing them either. The article begins, “Neither a cold-blooded realist nor a bleeding-heart idealist, Barack Obama has a split personality when it comes to foreign policy. So do most U.S. presidents, of course, and the ideas that inspire this one have a long history at the core of the American political tradition. In the past, such ideas have served the country well. But the conflicting impulses influencing how this young leader thinks about the world threaten to tear his presidency apart -- and, in the worst scenario, turn him into a new Jimmy Carter.”

I read all through Carter’s indignant letter to Foreign Affairs in response and found no mention of Obama, much less a complaint about being compared to him.

You have to wonder who, if anybody at Fox News, actually bothered to read the material that formed the basis for their report. Not the web editor, it seems. The video on Foxnews.com is titled, “Jimmy Carter upset by Obama comparisons.”

So much for Fox News’ “zero tolerance for on-screen errors." Again.