On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Fox News host Oliver North told Sean Hannity that it was "interesting" that he had "not heard" Howard Dean denounce protesters who have disrupted the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, implying that the protestors were liberals or Democratic supporters. Neither North nor Hannity explained that the protesters are, in fact, members of the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.
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On the May 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, retired Marine colonel and Fox News host Oliver North told Sean Hannity that it was "interesting" that he had "not heard" Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean denounce protesters who have disrupted the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, implying that the protesters are liberals or Democratic supporters. Neither North nor Hannity explained that the protesters are, in fact, members of the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, Kansas. North did not say why Dean, in particular, should denounce the protesters.
Later in the segment, co-host Alan Colmes said to North and Hannity: "I just want to second what you both said about the funerals of soldiers. We all agree on that. It's not about Howard Dean and politicizing it." North then asked, "Well, then why doesn't Dean denounce it?" Colmes responded, "It has nothing to do with Howard Dean."
A Media Matters for America search* of the Nexis database uncovered no evidence that Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman has denounced the anti-gay protesters.
A May 9 Associated Press article noted that members of the WBC, under the leadership of Rev. Fred Phelps, have "carried signs saying 'God Hates You' and 'Thank God for IEDs' -- the improvised explosive devices responsible for killing many military personnel in Iraq." (Hannity noted during the segment that the group he and North were discussing was saying, "Thank God for IEDs.")
According to the AP, the protesters "claim that U.S. military deaths in Iraq are a sign of divine punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuals." The AP further noted, "During the 1990s, the church group also picketed the funerals of those who died of AIDS and gay murder victim Matthew Shepard."
One of the church's websites -- GodHatesFags.com -- contains a "frequently asked questions" page in which it addresses the question, "Why do you picket soldiers' funerals?" The website claims that fallen soldiers "voluntarily joined a fag-infested army to fight for a fag-run country now utterly and finally forsaken by God who Himself is fighting against that country." The website adds that "their funerals are the forum of choice for delivering WBC's message of choice."
As Media Matters has documented, during an August 2005 broadcast of his radio show, Hannity read excerpts of an article detailing a WBC protest at a soldier's funeral. Hannity then told his listeners: "I guess this is just another example of how the anti-war left supports our brave troops."
From the May 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Joining us now to talk about this and to respond to the group that is protesting at the soldiers' funerals is the host of War Stories here on the Fox News Channel, Colonel North. I don't think there's anything more disgusting than showing up at the funerals of these brave heroes.
NORTH: It's outrageous. And God love the patriots, the VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars], the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans that are out there showing up at those funerals to honor those who died in the service of our country.
HANNITY: And they're also -- they're protecting the families --
NORTH: Yeah, from this outrage --
HANNITY: You know, because they're saying, you know, "Thank God for IEDs," "Thank God for dead soldiers."
NORTH: Interesting, I've not heard Howard Dean denounce these people for what they're doing.
HANNITY: Yeah, it is as grotesque a thing as I've ever seen.
COLMES: By the way, I just want to second what you both said about the funerals of soldiers. We all agree on that. It's not about Howard Dean and politicizing it.
NORTH: Well, then why doesn't Dean denounce it?
COLMES: It has nothing to do with Howard Dean.
NORTH: You just did. Why doesn't Dean do it?
COLMES: Because why give even credence to those idiots who protest at --
NORTH: Well, because they're out there doing it.
COLMES: It has nothing to do with -- you want to politicize it; I don't.
NORTH: Tell them to stop.
* Nexis search of "News, All (English, Full Text)" and "All available dates" for mehlman and (westboro baptist or (protest! w/25 funeral)).