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FOX News Trashes ABC For Publicizing DC Madam’s Clients. That’s How We Know There Must Be A Lot Of Republicans On The List

Reported by Ellen - May 1, 2007 -

Less than a week after Sean Hannity lamented that it’s no longer be permissible to use racist humor on the air and also refused to retract misinformation that smeared veteran journalist Bill Moyers, he was up in arms with Hanctimonious sensitivity for journalistic integrity and the feelings of the DC Madam’s clients whose names are about to be outed by ABC’s 20/20 this Friday night. Could there be any surer indication that there will be a preponderance of Republicans on the list? Actually, there is: FOX News validated Hannity’s interest by making it the top story on last night's Hannity & Colmes (4/30/07) and framing it with the “Cavuto mark”, asking if ABC had gone “out of bounds?” With video.

Alan Colmes started the segment by saying, “This raises an important question about a news organization. Should they be outing her clients at all? Keep in mind that nobody has been convicted of anything and (DC Madam Deborah Jeane) Palfrey continues to deny running a prostitution ring. Should the personal lives of those people alleged to be involved with her services be destroyed as part of a ratings stunt?”

I wonder if FOX News had the same concern over destroying Monica Lewinsky’s life when Linda Tripp showed up with her tape. I know for sure they didn’t care about the relatives of Coretta Scott King when they trashed her funeral for being too political. And how about Hannity posting the photo and name of the Duke rape accuser out of pure revenge, then making her an enemy of the week on his solo show? For all he knew, she was a sick, deluded person who truly believed she had been raped.

Jennifer Pozner, of WIMN, would have been a great guest has she not seemed unaware of or unconcerned about FOX News' own agenda of smearing ABC (as a means of defending Republicans) and their own hypocrisy in criticizing another media outlet for smearing. Nor did she seem to understand how she assisted that agenda with her own willingness to criticize ABC. It's a typical FOX News scenario: A conservative attack dog guest plus a liberal who only partly defends the other side. Pozner said, “The big question is, is this newsworthy and I would say it’s selectively newsworthy. As a ratings stunt, it’s kind of prurient… It’s only really relevant when there are public officials… who have, in their day to day jobs, the position of power… to legislate and moralize against prostitution.”

Pozner was savvy enough to bring up the newsworthiness of one of Palfrey’s clients, Randall Tobias, the just-resigned head of USAID, who “made billions of dollars in AIDS prevention relief contingent upon swearing off prostitution and talking about abstinence only until marriage.” Then, perhaps unwittingly, she fell in with the FOX News meme. “In Joe Schmo cases, it’s not newsworthy.”

Colmes, undoubtedly savvier about what was really going on, pointed out that it was difficult to delineate who was newsworthy and who wasn’t. Noting that ABC will be attacked for their decision, he added, “I don’t know of any news organization that wouldn’t go or come forward with this information if they had it.” (Except FOX News, of course, so long as there were a lot of Republicans on the list.)

The other guest was Hugh “Rush Limbaugh is the must trusted journalist in America” Hewitt. In a condescending voice, Hewitt predictably turned it into a partisan issue by questioning whether it would only be Republicans or conservatives outed. He insisted that some of the people have to be “innocent,” as though this were a question of criminal guilt rather than public humiliation. For Palfrrey it’s a criminal matter but not her clients. “They’re pimping the pimp,” Hewitt said, apparently forgetting that Palfrey is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, too.

Hannity again brought up his touching concern for “the smearing of innocent people.” He said he didn’t want to defend an escort service (no, just its Republican clients) “But I want to stand on the principle… that people are innocent until proven guilty (Especially when they’re Republicans!). He made the laughable suggestion that maybe some of the clients were just lonely and wanted company.

Hewitt said, “It’s possible someone from the service shows up at someone’s home and they’ve had a second thought and they say ‘go away’ and that will never get out.”

Pozner started cracking up. “Nobody pays for an escort and then says, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, go away.’"

Hannity must have been ready to order up some violins. "There are lonely people in the world that literally will call just to have company and you’re just assuming that there was some sexual activity coming on and probably there is, but you know what? You don’t know that and you ought to give people the benefit of the doubt and you ought not smear them with this campaign to release their names before they get to defend themselves."

That was the perfect moment for Pozner to point out all the smearing that Hannity has done or the fact that many of the names are already pubic personages but instead she naively started to explain who she thought should not be outed. Of course, Hannity was not interested.

Overall, Pozner did a fine job. It’s too bad, though, that she didn’t seem to understand FOX News a bit better.

By the way, with all that concern for journalistic integrity, you’d think that somebody would have felt compelled to disclose that one of FOX News’ own pundits, Dick Morris, is on the list.