Sean Hannity has been fixated for months on exposing the “real” Obama, suggesting that there’s some monster hiding behind the façade of the “fake” one. And yet somehow, this big Fox News star has not been able to persuade his own news network to assign a single reporter to the task. Instead, Hannity has relied on hacks like the two Breitbart.com editors whose “revelations” about the “radical” professor whom Obama praised and hugged in 1990 had already been aired by PBS in 2008. Or Fox's Eric Bolling, who wrongly accused Obama of being a drug dealer and then apologized the next day (though Hannity has not aired a retraction). Friday night (5/11/12), Democrat Steve Murphy called Hannity on some of this baloney.
A few days ago, Eric Boehlert at Media Matters wrote an excellent post about the right-wing’s ceaseless accusations that President Obama was never properly vetted by the so-called liberal media. Boehlert got to the heart of it when he said:
The vetting obsession however, doesn't spring from a natural affinity for fact checking. Instead, it's used to bolster the broader conservative argument that the real reason Obama won an electoral landslide victory in 2008 was because the press (purposefully) hid the truth about who Obama really is. And, by extension, if Obama wins re-election in November, the only reason will be because for his four years in office, the press (purposefully) hid the truth about who Obama really is.
The conspiracy theory serves as a convenient catchall excuse for why Obama succeeds electorally despite the conservative press' depiction of him as a monster determined to destroy the American economy and ruin our way of life. That's all accurate, the bloggers insists. It's just that the liberal media hasn't properly conveyed all the crucial information to voters.
Hannity has always been a poster child for that conclusion. Friday night's Great American Panel segment was yet another example.
The excuse this time was Hannity’s tit-for-tat over the Washington Post story detailing some very disturbing incidents of Mitt Romney bullying classmates in high school. “They want to go back to Mitt Romney’s past – 1965," Hannity complained - as if he wouldn't have gone back eagerly to 1955 or earlier had the WaPo story been unflattering to Obama. But because it was his guy not looking good, Hannity added petulantly, "Because I’m not sucking up to Obama for an interview, let’s go back and let’s look at the past of the President and his admitted drug use.” He went on to play an excerpt from Obama’s memoir in which he said he “attended classes sparingly, drank beer heavily and tried drugs enthusiastically.”
“How do you attend school sparingly and, you know, drink beer heavily, you know, do drugs enthusiastically – including cocaine – and get into Harvard and Yale?” Hannity asked. We know what the suggestion was: affirmative action was the likely explanation. Or else something more sinister afoot that we don’t know about.
“Now I played (this excerpt) back in 2007 and 8 but I – back in 2007 and 8, I was – you know, out of my mind. I had conservatives telling me I was going over the edge with Jeremiah Wright and radicalism and Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. But most people have not heard that, Bay (Buchanan). Is it relevant?”
Sadly for Hannity, conservative panelist Buchanan didn’t think so. “Nope… because he is president. It’s done. It’s yesterday’s news,” Buchanan told him.
Ironically, Hannity went on to admit that he had been “incorrigible” in his youth and that his parents worried he might end up in jail. But I guess his past doesn't count against him because he’s not a Democrat – and, of course, he’s not black. “If the media’s gonna go there with Romney, I’m gonna go there with Obama,” Hannity whined.
That’s when Murphy jumped in. “Well, you’re part of the media, too. I mean, this is the number one news network. I don’t know who you’re talking about with the news media. You’re doing the same thing that they did.”
Murphy also noted that Obama “did not go directly from high school to Harvard or Yale. He went by way of another college, as you know, where he did extremely well, before he could get in there. I don’t think you want to be leaving out there that he didn’t deserve to get into Harvard and Yale, Sean.” After Hannity griped about kids he knew who got good grades and couldn’t get into those schools – and about lack of access to Obama’s transcripts - Murphy asked, “Are you trying to imply there’s some kind of reverse discrimination?”
Hannity insisted he wasn’t. But given Hannity’s very disturbing record on race, I’m not so convinced. But it's worth noting that Hannity backed down when challenged.
It would have been great if Murphy had pressed Hannity to explain why, if there’s so much hidden in Obama’s past, Fox News hasn’t done their own exposé – you know, from their “objective” news division. But I think it’s really important that Democrats not just answer back Fox News charges but challenge the agenda. And for that, Murphy deserves the props.
The real reason this stuff is being churned again is that Hannity and the others are seriously worried about their candidate – a man they didn’t really want but are now stuck with for this election cycle. Since they can’t really promote Romney, they can only try to tear at Obama, and since they don’t really have any ammunition, they have to go back to the same attacks they mounted before.
And for the next time that Hannity or the others try to say that the revelations about Romney “always backfire”, let’s really think about whether their false equivalencies work or even make basic sense. An adult-aged Romney leads a group of guys in his prep school to attack another student because Romney doesn’t like the way he looks. The same Romney in school voices homophobic slurs in class, and is noted for doing so. The same Romney as an adult parent, nearly 20 years later, cruelly puts the family dog on the roof of his car for several hours, not even relenting when the dog has a clear anxiety attack up there. The same Romney, as a presidential candidate, repeatedly has issues relating to other candidates or the public on a human level and is seen as having an attitude of superiority and arrogance, for example when he actually laid hands on Rick Perry during a debate as a way of trying to control him. That’s a pretty consistent throughline, and that’s the impression voters have of him.
Contrast this with the reverse attacks on Obama. A pre-pubescent Obama is given a plate of food in Indonesia and is told by his stepfather what the various foods are, including insects and various wild animals. Obama as a young boy samples the food, and remembers enough of this to mention it as a life experience in his memoirs. A young Obama in elementary school is teased by his classmates about a girl he has befriended, and he responds in typical fashion for a young kid being teased – he lashes out at her and them before the teachers put them back in their classrooms. A teenaged Obama, approaching adult age, blows off his classes and spends more time drinking beer or smoking pot, as an avoidance of the real issues going on around him and his own abilities. There really isn’t anything unusual about this. And it doesn’t change the fact that Obama pulled himself together as he became an adult and began to apply himself.
So in the one case – Romney – you have a clear history of arrogant and at times abusive behavior that dates back to his first moments of adulthood in 1965 and continues up to the present. In the other case – Obama – you have a fairly typical series of teachable moments in a very young child’s life, followed by a difficult teenage experience, followed by a laudable example of pulling oneself together and achieving something with one’s life. How do the right wingers really think they can get away with this kind of false comparison?
HaNUTy and Bile have become so tiresome with their same old, same old schtick that I do not know how even their most ardent fans are still watching.