On Fox, Hannity, North, and Coulter baselessly attacked Pelosi over Syria trip

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

On the April 4 and 5 editions of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity repeatedly claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had "allow[ed] herself to be used for propaganda purposes" by meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus. During the April 4 segment on Pelosi's trip, Hannity hosted Fox News military analyst Oliver North, who asserted that Pelosi "didn't just allow herself to be used, she was a willful participant in this." North went on to claim that that he "didn't hear a thing from her statement today saying, 'I'm standing shoulder to shoulder with George Bush and opposing what this regime is doing.' " In fact, following her April 3 meeting with Assad, Pelosi claimed to have criticized Syria's ties to terrorist regimes such as Hezbollah and Hamas. She further stated, "[T]here is absolutely no division between this delegation and the president of the United States on the issues of concern." On the April 5 edition of the show, Hannity hosted right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, who agreed with his claim that Pelosi allowed herself to be used for propaganda purposes. Coulter went on to state: "I think it would have been good if Nancy Pelosi had mentioned something about women's rights." But contrary to Coulter's suggestion that she remained silent about women's rights, Pelosi brought up the issue during her visit to Saudi Arabia.

In the April 4 segment -- which was accompanied by on-screen text that read "Damascus Diva" -- Hannity said to North: "You know, I never thought in my lifetime, Colonel, that I'd see the speaker of the House of Representatives, against the wishes of her own president, commander in chief, her own State Department, and country, go and allow herself to be used for propaganda purposes, as evidenced by Al Jazeera, the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah. All of them have representatives praising her, attacking George Bush." North responded by claiming that Pelosi "didn't just allow herself to be used, she was a willful participant in this." He continued: "She just met with a regime that has now been accused of murdering opponents of Hezbollah inside Lebanon, a regime that has been supporting the killing of American troops inside Iraq, and a regime that is trying to manipulate a political outcome in Lebanon. So this is an outlaw regime in Damascus."

The April 4 segment concluded without a single mention of Pelosi's claim that she criticized Syria's terrorist ties to regimes during her meeting with Assad, as an April 4 Associated Press article reported:

"We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace," said Pelosi, who met for three hours with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

She said she expressed to Assad "our concern about Syria's connections to Hezbollah and Hamas" and militant fighters slipping across the Syrian border into Iraq.

She said that despite differences over whether to talk with Syria, "there is absolutely no division between this delegation and the president of the United States on the issues of concern."

An April 4 Washington Post article also reported that, during her meeting with Assad, Pelosi "reiterated U.S. demands that Syria stop the passage of insurgents across Syria into Iraq and stop supporting militant groups."

On the April 5 edition of the program, Hannity again repeated his claim that Pelosi's trip to Syria was for "propaganda purposes." Referring to a series of audio interviews by Aaron Klein posted on WorldNetDaily.com, Hannity said: "When you listen to Aaron Klein, who got the interview that we played part of, Islamic Jihad, Al Jazeera, the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, Hamas, and Hezbollah have all sent out messages of how great she is, using her to attack the president for propaganda purposes." Hannity later stated: "[Y]ou know something? I bet all of these leaders are laughing at her because they know that she was allowed herself, was a willing person, for their propaganda."

During the interview, Coulter agreed with Hannity's assertion that Pelosi allowed herself to be used for propaganda and further claimed: "The one person who's happy [about Pelosi's trip] is [anti-war activist] Cindy Sheehan, since there's now one person even less sophisticated in foreign policy." Coulter also implied that Pelosi never mentioned the topic of women's rights during her trip to the Middle East. She said, "I think it would have been good if Nancy Pelosi had mentioned something about women's rights," adding, "but I do think she looked cute in that burqa." (Co-host Alan Colmes subsequently pointed out that Pelosi had worn a head scarf, not a burqa.) Further, in reference to Rep. Darrell E. Issa (R-CA), who was also traveling in the Middle East and who met with Assad the day after Pelosi, Coulter said, "I bet he raised women's rights."

In fact, the AP reported that Pelosi did discuss the issue of women's rights during her visit to Saudi Arabia on April 5:

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Saudi Arabia's unelected advisory council Thursday, the closest thing in the kingdom to a legislature, where she tried out her counterpart's chair -- a privilege no Saudi woman can have because women cannot become legislators.

Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the House, said she raised the issue of Saudi Arabia's lack of female politicians with Saudi government officials on the last stop of her Mideast tour, but she refrained from criticizing the kingdom over it.

An April 5 Reuters article noted Pelosi's discussions concerning women's rights:

"After 200 years in the United States we finally have a (woman) speaker, it took us a long time," Pelosi, a Democrat [sic] leader, told reporters after talks with her Saudi counterpart.

She said talks in Saudi Arabia, which included a visit to King Abdullah's ranch on Wednesday night, covered women's rights and Saudi Arabia's diplomatic efforts to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict and other regional tensions.

From the April 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi dismissing criticisms of her trip to Syria. And while meeting with the Syrian leader, Assad, she insisted, quote, "The road to Damascus is, in fact, the road to peace." We continue now with Colonel Oliver North, [former Iranian embassy hostage] Donald Cooke, [former Iranian embassy hostage] Rick Kupke is with us, and [Stanford University professor] Abbas Milani.

Colonel North. You know, I never thought in my lifetime, Colonel, that I'd see the speaker of the House of Representatives, against the wishes of her own president, commander in chief, her own State Department, and country, go and allow herself to be used for propaganda purposes, as evidenced by Al Jazeera, the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah. All of them have representatives praising her, attacking George Bush. And she allowed herself to be used this way for propaganda. How damaging is this?

NORTH: Well, she didn't just allow herself to be used, she was a willful participant in this. And you've got to understand: She just met with a regime that has now been accused of murdering opponents of Hezbollah inside Lebanon, a regime that has been supporting the killing of American troops inside Iraq, and a regime that is trying to manipulate a political outcome in Lebanon. So this is an outlaw regime in Damascus. And she chose to go meet with them, and I didn't hear a thing from her statement today saying, "I'm standing shoulder to shoulder with George Bush and opposing what this regime is doing." In fact, what she's talking to them about is some kind of deal that would have the Israelis sacrifice the Golan Heights, which, for Israel, would be basically a death knell.

HANNITY: Hey, Donald, as a person that was held hostage for such a long period of time, you know, here we have -- you talk about state-sponsored terror -- a group that foments terror, that supports terror, that supports these terror organizations, and even the funding of the insurgency that is out there killing American troops. And you see the person third in line to be president of the United States, willfully, as Colonel North puts out, allowing herself to be used for propaganda purposes. What message does this send to the world? What are your thoughts?

COOKE: Well, I think it's clear that you have two possibilities when you have someone from the legislative branch going overseas. And one possibility is that they show that the legislature supports the president, supports U.S. policy. The other possibility is that you're allowing our adversaries overseas to see that they can drive a wedge between the legislature and the executive branch.

And so, if the purpose of this is to show that our approach to Syria is going to be the same from both branches of government, then it's a positive thing. But if the Syrians are going to use this as an opportunity to try to divide the government, then, obviously, it's a negative.

From the April 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: Ann Coulter, you know, it's amazing that she didn't answer one question. But I've got to tell you, I'm almost embarrassed for Nancy Pelosi. She looked ridiculous. She's acting ridiculous. She clearly is being used.

When you listen to Aaron Klein, who got the interview that we played part of, Islamic Jihad, Al Jazeera, the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, Hamas, and Hezbollah have all sent out messages of how great she is, using her to attack the president for propaganda purposes.

COULTER: Oh, yeah. No, that was an amazing article in WorldNetDaily.

HANNITY: Yeah. In WorldNetDaily, yeah.

COULTER: The one person who's happy is Cindy Sheehan, since there's now one person even less sophisticated in foreign policy than Cindy Sheehan.

COLMES: [inaudible] -- I didn't hear Cindy Sheehan speak, Ms. Coulter.

HANNITY: Hey, hang on. She's finishing a point. Go ahead.

COULTER: And to answer your question, no, I think it would have been good if Nancy Pelosi had mentioned something about women's rights, but I do think she looked cute in that burqa.

COLMES: Hey, by the way, you --

COULTER: Hello.

COLMES: Nice to see you. You accused Nancy Pelosi of being in a burqa. She was not in a burqa.

COULTER: OK.

COLMES: She was wearing a head scarf, just like Laura Bush.

COULTER: Yes, that's much better.

LAURA SCHWARTZ (Democratic strategist): A very fashionable head scarf.

COLMES: Let me put up on the screen a picture --

COULTER: She was Gladys Kravitz.

COLMES: -- of Laura Bush visiting the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem wearing the same thing Nancy Pelosi wore.

COULTER: She's in --

HANNITY: She was in a mosque.

COLMES: So that's an unfair accusation. Secondly, U.S. Representative David Hobson, the Republican on the trip in the delegation with Nancy Pelosi, says that she reinforced Bush's administration policies to Assad. So is Hobson lying?

COULTER: Is Hobson a protege of [Sen.] Chuck Hagel's [R-NE]?

COLMES: He's a Republican congressman --

COULTER: I know that.

COLMES: -- a conservative congressperson --

COULTER: I know that. I've never heard of him, which doesn't surprise me though.

COLMES: -- who said she was reinforcing Bush policies.

COULTER: I gather we'll be hearing more from these three Republicans. I thought it was going to be Specter --

COLMES: Let me ask you this. Darrell --

COULTER: -- Chuck Hagel, [Sen.] John McCain [R-AZ]. Those are the usual Republicans you pull out. But, no, these Republicans should not have gone, either. And, no, for them to characterize, "Oh, she was carrying Bush's message," as Laura just said, no, she wasn't. Bush's message was, "Don't go."

COLMES: All right, then why not criticize the Republicans?

COULTER: That was Bush's message.

COLMES: Now, let me ask you this.

COULTER: I just did criticize the Republicans.

COLMES: Is Darrell Issa conservative enough for you?

COULTER: Yes. He's an Arab.

COLMES: He met with Assad the day after Nancy Pelosi did.

COULTER: I bet he raised women's rights.

COLMES: So, he wasn't --

COULTER: And not only that --

COLMES: You know, we don't have any --

[...]

HANNITY: That's a good point. This is important. See, I think what happened here is very obvious. I think Nancy Pelosi -- they're so obsessed, there's, like, Bush derangement syndrome. They want to embarrass the president. More importantly, you know something? I bet all of these leaders are laughing at her because they know that she was allowed herself, was a willing person, for their propaganda.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.