Fox News' Sean Hannity suggested that Sen. Barack Obama had "associated" himself with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who had received an award from a magazine founded by Obama's church. But Hannity, who described Farrakhan as "an anti-Semite racist," did not note that Obama issued a statement "condemn[ing]" Farrakhan's "anti-Semitic statements" and saying of the award: "[I]t is not a decision with which I agree."
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During the January 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity and Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity discussed an award given to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan by Trumpet Newsmagazine -- a publication founded by Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, of which Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is a parishioner. Hannity asked, "Now, if any Republican associated themselves with a anti-Semite racist, and if you replaced the word black with white and went to that type of church, wouldn't that be a huge deal in this campaign?" But in suggesting that Obama "associated" himself with Farrakhan, Hannity did not note that Obama issued a statement "condemn[ing]" Farrakhan's "anti-Semitic statements" and saying of the Trumpet award: "[I]t is not a decision with which I agree."
In his January 15 Washington Post column, Richard Cohen wrote: "Every year, [Trumpet] makes awards in various categories. Last year, it gave the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award to a man it said 'truly epitomized greatness.' That man is Louis Farrakhan." A report posted that same day on washingtonpost.com's The Trail blog provided a statement from Obama criticizing Farrakhan and disagreeing with the magazine's decision to give him the award:
[T]his afternoon, the Obama campaign responded with an unequivocal statement on it from the candidate himself.
"I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan," Obama said in the statement. "I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree."
Also discussing Obama's church on January 17, Hannity stated that "Barack Obama's pastor ... talks about the Black Value System. Why not the Christian value system?" But as Media Matters documented, Trinity United Church of Christ refers to itself as "Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian," [emphasis added], while the "Black Value System" encourages parishioners to be "soldiers for Black freedom and the dignity of all humankind." Hannity has previously claimed that "many" have called Obama's church "separatist" adding that, "in some cases, even drawing comparisons to a cult."
From the January 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: I want to ask you as a pastor -- then we'll allow Dr. [Marc Lamont] Hill [Temple University professor] to respond to this.
HILL: That'd be great.
HANNITY: And this is the issue of Barack Obama's pastor, and his adherence to what he calls the Black Value System. Now, I asked him about him on this very show. You know, he asked his congregation to commit themselves to the black -- adherence to the black work ethic, the black family, the Black Value System, acquire skills available to the black community, strengthen and support black institutions, pledge allegiance to the black leadership who have embraced the Black Value System, and then we found out this week that he also gave an award and said about Louis Farrakhan, a racist and anti-Semite, that this is a man who truly epitomized greatness.
Now, if any Republican associated themselves with a anti-Semite racist, and if you replaced the word black with white and went to that type of church, wouldn't that be a huge deal in this campaign, Reverend?
REV. JESSE LEE PETERSON (president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny): They would not allow it to happen. There is a double standard --
HILL: Well, first of all --
PETERSON: There is a double standard in America today. Liberal blacks can do and say whatever they want and get away with it. We all know that Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr. is a racist.
HILL: OK, can I jump in --
PETERSON: Anyone that supports -- anyone that supports Farrakhan -- and I also have to say real fast is that God -- if you are born-again of the nature of God, then you're of the spirit, and not of the color.
HANNITY: That's right. It's not [inaudible]; it's about your Christian values, sir.
HILL: OK, let me reply. I need to --
PETERSON: It has nothing to do --
HILL: I need to jump in here.
HANNITY: Mark, let me ask you this. Barack Obama --
HILL: Well, can I answer that question first? Can I answer --
HANNITY: Barack Obama's pastor says he "truly" -- what did he say? -- "truly epitomized greatness" about a racist and anti-Semite Farrakhan, and then he talks about the Black Value System. Why not the Christian value system that transcends race?
HILL: Well, first of all, to say that if that happened to a Republican, it would be different, is untrue. How many Republican presidents have embraced Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson, other race --
HANNITY: They're not racists and anti-Semites, sir. That's not the same as "gutter religion" and the white man is a "skunk of the planet Earth."
HILL: They're racist. They're homophobic. They -- I mean, we can go all the way --
HANNITY: No, they're not racist. Jerry Fallwell -- with all due respect, Jerry Fallwell is not a racist, sir. That is a despicable comment, and it's not true.
HILL: I find it to be true, but also, let me go further --
HANNITY: You find it to be true, but you cannot quote --
HILL: Absolutely --
HANNITY: -- on this program one thing that would back that up.
HILL: We can certainly say that Jerry Fallwell is homophobic, but the bigger issue here is --
PETERSON: He was not --
HILL: -- Jeremiah Wright's --
PETERSON: He was not a racist.
HILL: Jeremiah Wright's church here promotes black self-determination. The idea that black people --
PETERSON: There's no such thing, though.
HILL: And that's something that you can --
PETERSON: Are you talking about ghetto values? What are you talking about? Ghetto values? There's no such thing --
HILL: I'm talking about the values of taking care of oneself --
HANNITY: OK, gentlemen, we've got to go.
HILL: -- of supporting oneself, and using the nation -- the notion of God-support --
PETERSON: It must be ghetto values.
HANNITY: We've got to go.
PETERSON: There's no such thing as ghetto values.
HILL: -- social justice --
HANNITY: I guarantee you we've not heard the end of this issue as we go through this campaign.
HILL: You haven't heard me at all.