Hannity refused to say if he agreed with Coulter that Democrats "have affection for ... terrorists"

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

While on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Ann Coulter claimed that Democrats "have affection for ... terrorists." When Arianna Huffington later challenged co-host Sean Hannity to say whether he agreed with Coulter's assertion, Hannity refused to answer despite his frequent practice of demanding "yes or no" answers from guests on complicated or diversionary questions.

On the February 20 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter claimed that Democrats "have affection for ... terrorists." When challenged by syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington, also appearing on the show, co-host Sean Hannity refused to say whether he agreed with Coulter's assertion.

Coulter made her comments during a discussion of a post on Huffington's weblog, The Huffington Post, by actor Alec Baldwin, who wrote that Vice President Dick Cheney was "a terrorist." In response to Coulter's assertion, Huffington adopted an occasional practice of Hannity's and challenged the Fox News host to answer "yes or no" to the question of whether he agreed with Coulter. But when Huffington turned the tables, Hannity refused to give a straight answer. Hannity has been known to confront guests with "yes or no" questions that oversimplify, misrepresent, or divert attention from the issue at hand.

On one recent occasion, he did this with Huffington herself after she expressed agreement with comments made by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean that were critical of the administration's handling of the war in Iraq. In his December 4, 2005, comments on CBS' Face the Nation, Kerry made his case for turning internal security operations in Iraq to Iraqi forces, saying: "And there is no reason, Bob [Schieffer], that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children." As Media Matters for America has previously documented, Kerry's comment is supported by an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report, a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) report, and news accounts detailing such raids. The following day, Dean told a San Antonio, Texas, radio station that the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong." On the December 8, 2005, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asked Huffington if Dean and Kerry had "crossed the line." When she tried to respond, Hannity interrupted her and, misrepresenting Kerry's remarks, asked: "Our troops are terrorists?"

From the December 8, 2005, edition of Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: My question is simple: Did John Kerry and Howard Dean cross a line, yes or no?

HUFFINGTON: No, no. I don't believe they crossed the line at all.

HANNITY: Wow. Wow.

HUFFINGTON: Finally, I think -- let me just -- you asked me to answer the question. Let me answer it.

HANNITY: Go ahead.

HUFFINGTON: I believe that they are speaking the truth. I believe that when Howard Dean --

HANNITY: Our troops are terrorists?

HUFFINGTON: -- says that it is like Vietnam, when John Kerry says that we are --

HANNITY: Our troops are terrorists.

Similarly, on the March 8, 2005, broadcast of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asked Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), who was on the show to discuss his proposal for legislation that would limit military recruiters' access to the contact information for high school students, whether Honda thought "our military is a force of good."

From the March 8, 2005, edition of Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: I don't know -- you know what? I don't have enough time in this segment. But I bet you do have. Let me ask you, do you think our military is a force for good in the world today, sir?

HONDA: That's not the issue.

HANNITY: Do you think our military is a force for good, yes or no?

HONDA: The issue is this: do parents want the right to be able to release information to third parties at schools? Children are required and they're mandatorily sent to school.

[...]

HANNITY: Here's my -- sir -- wait a minute -- sir -- sir, here's my question. Do you think the United States military, sir, is a force for good in the world, yes or no?

[...]

HANNITY: Yes or no, sir. Yes or no.

HONDA: You want to talk about the bill, let's talk about the bill.

HANNITY: You have another agenda, don't you?

HONDA: I don't have another agenda.

On the December 16, 2005, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Andrew Fois, former assistant attorney general under President Clinton, was taken to task by Hannity for his opposition to the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. Hannity again used the "yes or no" interview strategy to misrepresent the crux of the warrantless wiretapping debate and to box his ideological opponent into a corner. Republican attorney and former Reagan Justice Department official Victoria Toensing also appeared on the program:

HANNITY: Guys, we've got to run. Andrew, last question: Yes or no, if Osama calls, do you think, by law, that we should have to hang up, yes or no?

FOIS: Not if it means trampling on the rights of Sean Hannity and Victoria Toensing, no.

HANNITY: Wow. So, you say, hang up on Osama bin Laden?

COLMES: Is there any evidence that that happened, Victoria?

HANNITY: Unbelievable.

COLMES: Any evidence that that ever happened?

HANNITY: Unbelievable. All right. Thank you both for being with us. Appreciate it.

Yet, when Huffington turned the tables and asked Hannity whether he agreed with Coulter's assertion that Democrats "have affection for ... terrorists," Hannity refused to give a straight answer, stating:

HANNITY: Your party has undermined the war on terror every step in the way. They are consistently, repeatedly, almost on a daily basis, not only wrong, but they're hurting the war effort. They're hurting our troops. They're hurting our commander in chief. And you know something? I think you're hurting yourself politically as a result of it.

Later in the program, Hannity again did not directly answer Huffington when she asked him whether he "back[s] up" some of Coulter's other controversial comments. Hannity responded by first telling Huffington to "talk to Ann, considering she's right here," then repeating that "your party has been taken over by you and the extreme left ... you've undermined the president ... the troops, and your hate-Bush mentality is not winning you any friends among the American people." Hannity did not say whether he agreed with Coulter's comments -- a question Huffington specifically asked -- about "sending liberals to Guantánamo, having televised torture, [and] sending daisy-cutters to the Middle East."

From the February 20 broadcast of Hannity & Colmes, which also featured co-host Alan Colmes:

HANNITY: Arianna, I love that your website's there. Keep printing him. Let [actor] Richard Dreyfuss have a column and attack me. By the way, Coulter, I'm proud he attacked me and not you.

COULTER: I know. I was so jealous.

HANNITY: You're so jealous this time. You know, because this is why -- this is a party that is not only unhinged, led by their leaders [former Vice President] Al Gore, and [former President Jimmy] Carter, and [President] Clinton --

COULTER: And [actress] Janeane Garofalo, the great intellectualite of the left.

HANNITY: Yes, I mean, but they are a party, frankly, that is an appeasement party, that is pre-9-11 in their thought process, and they show themselves every day to be weak on national security.

COULTER: I think it's more than pre-9-11. I mean, they do have affection for these -- for these terrorists.

COLMES: Oh, please. Please.

HANNITY: I will say this -- but you are, Arianna, as a party, it seems you've become unglued in this hatred you have for the president. Now, I will say this: the Democratic leadership --

HUFFINGTON: You know what, Sean? Sean, let me ask you something.

HANNITY: Hang on a sec.

HUFFINGTON: Sean -- Sean, let me ask you something.

HANNITY: OK, you ask me.

HUFFINGTON: Do you agree with your guest, Ann? Do you agree that Democrats have an affection for terrorists? Do you agree with that?

HANNITY: Do I agree?

HUFFINGTON: Yes or no? It's a yes or no question.

[...]

HANNITY: Arianna, I will answer this way.

HUFFINGTON: You know what, Ann? You're just completely exaggerating what Robert Wright wrote in that column.

HANNITY: Arianna, I'll tell you what I believe. Your party has undermined --

HUFFINGTON: And Sean is not backing you up here.

HANNITY: Your party has undermined the war on terror every step in the way. They are consistently, repeatedly, almost on a daily basis, not only wrong, but they're hurting the war effort. They're hurting our troops. They're hurting our commander in chief. And you know something? I think you're hurting yourself politically as a result of it.

[...]

HANNITY: So Alec Baldwin by calling Vice President Cheney a terrorist is following that model?

HUFFINGTON: You know what? How many times are you going to say that? Would you like to go through a litany of the toxic statements made by your other guest, Ann Coulter --

HANNITY: You've basically suggested the president was on the ranch shooting to meet girls.

HUFFINGTON: -- with which I'm sure you don't agree.

HANNITY: Didn't you suggest that --

HUFFINGTON: I would just like -- you know what, Sean? For you to suddenly be so, so incredibly hypersensitive about what Alec Baldwin said, when you've allowed Ann Coulter to be on your show and say things --

COULTER: And that's really outrageous.

HUFFINGTON: -- that are so unbelievably toxic about --

HANNITY: She's right here to talk to you. You're debating.

HUFFINGTON: -- sending liberals abroad -- yes, exactly -- sending liberals to Guantánamo, having televised torture, sending daisy-cutters to the Middle East.

HANNITY: Let me go to you, Ann --

HUFFINGTON: These are all completely sane, moderate statements made by Ann Coulter. And I have not seen you distancing yourself from those toxic, extreme statements.

HANNITY: Well, why don't you talk to Ann, considering she's right here? You can talk to Ann.

HUFFINGTON: Because I'm asking you. You're asking me if I'm backing up what Alec Baldwin said.

HANNITY: I gave you my answer. I told you. I think your party is become -- led by Al Gore, and [House Democratic Leader] Nancy Pelosi [D-CA], and [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton] [D-NY], and Kerry, and Howard Dean, who hates Republicans, 'cause he says so -- I think your party has been taken over by you and the extreme left. I think you're weak on terror. I think you have a pre-9-11 mentality. You've undermined the president. You've undermined the troops, and your hate-Bush mentality is not winning you any friends among the American people. And I think it's destructive towards our troops and our country.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity
Show/Publication
Hannity & Colmes
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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