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McCain Campaign Echoes FOX News, FOX News Echoes McCain

Reported by Ellen - October 23, 2008 -

Oh, what a cozy back and forth exists between FOX News and Republicans. First, I found out that the latest McCain robocalls feature snippets from Sean Hannity's “investigation” into Obama's so-called radicalism. Then I saw FOX News hype Rep. John Murtha's “controversial comments” about racists and rednecks in Pennsylvania just at the same time that word came that the McCain campaign is going to play the race card more overtly there and in some other swing states where racial politics have worked in the past. With video.

As Melanie noted, Your World with Neil Cavuto ignored the verbal gaffes of Republicans while highlighting Murtha. Similarly, Hannity & Colmes has held a number of discussions about Murtha's comments which, while hardly well-chosen, were nowhere near as offensive as those coming from some that Hannity has made a point of defending. Mel Gibson and Duane “Dog” Chapman leap immediately to mind. But with Hannity, it seems to make a big difference who's getting accused. A white guy talking like a racist? Not necessarily a problem. A white guy accused of racism? That's a whole different story, especially if it's a Democrat doing the accusing, in a battleground state and in an election where Hannity's side is deliberately playing the race card.

Fortunately, Democrat Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania, was a guest on last night's (10/22/08) show for at least one particular go-round about Murtha. There was another one following Rendell with the Republican candidate challenging Murtha for his Congressional seat (Hannity repeatedly harped on Obama and even played a tape of his “bitter” comments, which had nothing to do with the Congressional race, of course) and there was at least one Murtha discussion on the show the night before. Election issues aside, I have no doubt Hannity will bring up Murtha as an example of liberals' "double standard" when the next Dog Chapman comes along.

Meanwhile, Karl Rove had just said in a previous segment that a part of Pennsylvania is a place where people "really cling" to their guns and religion. (See my next post for more.) Predictably, that did not bother Hannity at all. But to Rendell, Hannity said, “I'm really disturbed. Now in San Francisco, Barack Obama said, about people in your state, that they're bitter, that they cling to their guns and religion and they have antipathy toward those that aren't like them.”

Hannity continued by conflating Obama with Murtha. “He called people in your state racist and redneck. Now I know people in Pennsylvania. It's the heart and soul of this country... Why should anybody in Pennsylvania vote for Obama or Murtha based on those statements?”

Rendell argued – beautifully, I might add – that Pennsylvanians are worried about the economy and that Obama's economic policies and tax cuts are what they are interested in.

Rendell was so good, Hannity interrupted him and hurriedly changed the subject. “I don't want to talk tax policy,” he said.

“I know you don't,” Rendell countered.

In a new McCain campaign ad out that day, a series of small business owners tell the camera, “I'm Joe the Plumber.” Hannity now used those same talking points. “Wait a minute,” he said, and began counting off on his fingers. “I'm a Pennsylvanian, I'm a coal miner, I'm a blue collar worker, I'm a plumber, I'm a carpenter and I work in Pennsylvania and this guy in San Francisco, among his millionaire friends, says, 'I'm bitter!'”

In real life, Hannity is no “regular Joe.” He just signed deals earning him more than $20 million dollars a year.

“Why should I overlook that?” Hannity asked emphatically.

Rendell answered, “Because there are more important things in your life.

Unrepentant bigot Hannity answered, “Than being called a racist?”

Rendell continued, “If you're drowning in the middle of the river and you see a guy on the riverbank and he's got a coil of rope, you don't care what color he is, you don't care what religion he is, you care, does he have a strong enough arm to get that rope out to me in the middle of the river? Barack Obama has by far the best economic plan.”