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Hannity Has Two Segments On Racial Profiling Of Taxicab Passengers But No Time For Elizabeth Edwards' Death

Reported by Ellen - December 8, 2010 -

Sean Hannity had no time on his show last night (12/7/10) to discuss Elizabeth Edwards’ untimely death – despite a relentless fixation with her husband and professed concern for her – but he did have time for not one but two segments on whether cab drivers should racially profile their passengers. Not surprisingly, three out of the five guests involved enthusiastically endorsed the idea. And while Hannity – who has a long history of palling around with bigots – claimed to be uncomfortable with it, the questions he did and didn’t ask, plus the fact that he posed the possibility as a credible notion – twice – gave a pretty good clue to his thoughts. UPDATED WITH BOTH VIDEOS.

Like a similar segment on Megyn Kelly’s America Live, the so-called reason for this debate was a statement by Fernando Mateo, the head of the New York Taxi Drivers Union, calling for racial profiling. Ordinarily, anything a union boss does is grounds for derision and opprobrium on Fox. I certainly can’t think of a single segment giving serious consideration to any union ideas, much less three segments.

Hannity’s intro spoke volumes as he described Mateo’s call for racial profiling as “a new safety method as (cabdrivers’) first line of defense.” We then saw a clip of Mateo saying, “It’s very important” to profile passengers. “Sometimes it’s good that we are racially profiled because the God’s honest truth is 99% of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics.” That was a statistic that Kelly tried but was unable to verify. But Hannity made no such attempt.

The panelists for the discussion were Michael Meyers, Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, and radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa. Sliwa has previously demonstrated animosity toward African Americans. He also once said on the air that he wished he had a bat to attack Rosie O’Donnell “like a human piñata.” Hannity referred to Sliwa as “my good friend.”

Not surprisingly, Sliwa enthusiastically endorsed profiling in his unique way.

You don’t profile who you pick up off the streets, you could be dead, room temperature, six feet under in a pine box and nobody’s gonna know you lived. And it’s not just the young homeboys who stick you up and dug you up, it’s a lot of young men who will jump in the cab, make you take ‘em on a $20 ride and instead of payin’ ya, jump out the door and then you’re out twenty bucks. So you gotta profile to survive!

…In those neighborhoods, you’re not finding white livery cab drivers and you’re not finding white thugs thugging up black and Hispanic livery cab drivers. Secondly, the great civil rights leader Jesse Jackson in Northwest Washington said, ‘I look over my back and I’m afraid of young black youth now.’ …I do profile, the moment I roll out the door. When Jesse Jackson starts talking about being afraid of young black male youth, why can’t a livery cab driver use profiling to protect himself?

Maybe because it’s illegal. Meyers, an attorney, noted, “It is unlawful for any cab driver to refuse to give the public a service based on the passengers or the fare’s race or the perception of their ethnicity.” Meyers called Mateo’s words “perverse racial rhetoric.”

Hannity scrupulously avoided taking a stand. But one could read between the lines, especially when he offered no pushback on any of Sliwa’s comments.

Hannity also threw out the sympathetic-to-Mateo question, “What do you make of (Mateo’s) background? He’s Hispanic, he has a black father. His comment was, ‘I’m asking black and Hispanic people to profile their own.’”

Later, Hannity said, “Let’s take race out of this for a second” and then suggested that profiling of those dressing like gang members would be a good idea. “Would cabdrivers be wise not to pick up those perceived gang members?” Hannity asked. You’d have to be blind and deaf not to get the implication.

Sliwa regaled the Hannity viewers with another racially-tinged schtick about gang members in hoodies, flashing signs. “And then all of a sudden they look at you like you’re an ATM machine on four wheels and they got their pin numbers right on their knuckles. They’re gonna rob you, they may take your life.”

Meyers noted that gang profiling “becomes a code word for race.” But he never confronted Sliwa on his blatant race-baiting. Nor did Meyers challenge Hannity on his obvious effort at legitimizing racial profiling by just “asking” if it’s a good idea.

As the music began, signaling the end of the segment, Hannity demanded that Meyers say, “yes or no” whether, if he were a cab driver, he’d see “a more perceived threat if you saw kids in gang colors?... Will you acknowledge it’s more dangerous?... IS IT MORE DANGEROUS, MICHAEL?”

It was pretty darned clear Hannity thought it was and that, just as Meyers had said, “gang” was code for "race."

Hannity continued talking about the subject in his Great American Panel segment. This time, there were two panelists supporting racial profiling with one against – plus Hannity. “Racially profile. Right or wrong?” Hannity asked.

Democrat Kirsten Powers immediately said what Meyers should have. “I can’t even believe you’re asking that question.” She later added that just asking the question suggested “you think it’s OK.”

Hannity insisted he has “a problem with racial profiling” and that’s why he brought up the gang question. But just as with Sliwa, Hannity had no problem with either of his other two guests advocating for it.

Panelist Paul Mecurio said, “You don’t want to racially profile just for the sake of racially profiling but you know in these circumstances, why not? If it’s going to protect the driver.” When Powers pointed out that it’s both illegal and unconstitutional, Mecurio said cavalierly, “So then you change the law.” He chided Powers for having a “utopian theory of law” when she argued that “our laws are based on our values.”

Panelist Tucker Carlson agreed with Mecurio and implied that minorities are to blame for the need for racial profiling. “It’s real and it’s not because cabdrivers are racists. They want the fares. But in a lot of cases, they feel they can’t because their lives are at risk. What does that say about those, about certain communities?”

Hannity tied the issue to the TSA screening. “It’s sort of like the TSA. Do we waste our time on grandmothers and nuns vs. the 19 year-old Yemeni exchange student.”

Funny he should mention that. Because just last week, Hannity asked, in a discussion about the TSA, “What’s wrong with racial profiling?” After his guests cracked up, Hannity quickly said he meant “profiling,” not “racial profiling.” Freudian slip? I report, you decide.

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