Ignoring context, Hannity called "president-elect" mentions in Blagojevich complaint "troubling"
Research ››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER & TOM ALLISON
On Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asserted that President-elect Barack Obama is "all over" the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, adding, "The pres -- the word 'president-elect' is mentioned 44 times in the document. Pretty troubling." However, nowhere in the complaint was a single allegation against Obama made. Further, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald stated during a December 9 press conference that the criminal complaint "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever -- his conduct."
On the December 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity asserted that President-elect Barack Obama is "all over" the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), adding, "The pres -- the word 'president-elect' is mentioned 44 times in the document. Pretty troubling." Hannity did not explain what he found "troubling" about those mentions, nor did he note that the complaint does not allege wrongdoing by Obama in any way. Indeed, as Media Matters for America noted, prosecutor and U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald stated during a December 9 press conference that the criminal complaint "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever -- his conduct," and Fitzgerald cautioned the press to "not cast aspersions on people for being named or being discussed or if you learn they're being interviewed."
Also during the segment, Hannity compared the FBI audio tapes of Blagojevich to tapes released by Gennifer Flowers, saying, "Everything that we heard in the Gennifer Flowers tapes came true." However, the Los Angeles Times reported on January 30, 1992:
A nationally known expert who examined a tape-recorded conversation allegedly between Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and a woman who claims to have had a long-term affair with him said the tape had been "selectively edited" and is "suspect at best."
"If you take this tape recording at its face value, it's misleading," said Anthony J. Pellicano, a prominent expert on tape recordings who has testified in numerous criminal cases involving tapes.
Additionally, while President Bill Clinton testified to having had "sexual relations" with Flowers on one occasion in 1977, journalist Gene Lyons wrote in a February 5, 1998, Salon.com article that Flowers had misrepresented significant aspects of her biography and her relationship with Clinton:
Among other things, Flowers' résumé claimed degrees from colleges she'd barely attended, membership in a sorority she'd never joined and jobs she'd never held. Her claim to have won the Miss Teenage America crown proved false. Much was made locally of her claim to the Star that she and Clinton had many torrid assignations during 1979 and 1980 at the Excelsior, Little Rock's fanciest downtown hotel. The Excelsior didn't exist until November 1982.
While there is not a single allegation against Obama included in the complaint, at least one of the "president-elect" mentions affirmatively undermines any suggestion of wrongdoing on Obama's part. In that instance, the complaint alleges that Blagojevich "said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but 'they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.' "
Below are the references to "President-elect" in the criminal complaint against Blagojevich (brackets in the original).
- Defendants ROD BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, together with others, attempted to use ROD BLAGOJEVICH's authority to appoint a United States Senator for the purpose of obtaining personal benefits for ROD BLAGOJEVICH, including, among other things, appointment as Secretary of Health & Human Services in the President-elect's administration, and alternatively, a lucrative job which they schemed to induce a union to provide to ROD BLAGOJEVICH in exchange for appointing as senator an individual whom ROD BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS believed to be favored by union officials and their associates.
- Intercepted phone calls demonstrate that ROD BLAGOJEVICH, JOHN HARRIS, and others have engaged and are engaged in efforts to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, for the benefit of ROD BLAGOJEVICH and his family through the corrupt use of ROD BLAGOJEVICH's authority as Governor of the State of Illinois to fill the vacant United States Senate Seat previously held by the President-elect.
- By law, after the President-elect's resignation of his position as a U.S. Senator, which was effective on November 16, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH has sole authority to appoint his replacement for the two years remaining of the President-elect's Senate term.
- In particular, ROD BLAGOJEVICH has been intercepted conspiring to trade the senate seat for particular positions that the President-elect has the power to appoint (e.g. the Secretary of Health and Human Services).
- By this time, media reports indicated that Senate Candidate 1, an advisor to the President-elect, was interested in the Senate seat if it became vacant, and was likely to be supported by the President-elect.
- Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to various teams, stating "how much are you offering, [President-elect]?"
- Later ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he will make a decision on the Senate seat "in good faith . . . but it is not coming for free. . . .It's got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me." ROD BLAGOJEVICH states "[President-elect], you want it? Fine. But, its got to be good or I could always take [the Senate seat]."
- After discussing various federal governmental positions that ROD BLAGOJEVICH would trade the Senate seat for, ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked about "the private sector" and whether the President-elect could "put something together there. . . .Something big."
- Thereafter, HARRIS suggested that the President-elect could make ROD BLAGOJEVICH the head of a private foundation.
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked whether he could get a high-ranking position at the Red Cross. HARRIS stated that "it's got to be a group that is dependent on [the President-elect]," and that a President probably could not influence the Red Cross.
- On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. During the phone call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that the President-elect can remove somebody from a foundation and give the spot to ROD BLAGOJEVICH.
- According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, by doing this, he wanted "to send a message to the [President-elect's] people," but did not want it known that the message was from ROD BLAGOJEVICH.
- On November 7, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he is willing to "trade" the Senate seat to Senate Candidate 1 in exchange for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in the President-elect's cabinet.
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH indicated in the call that if he was appointed as Secretary of Health and Human Services by the President-elect, then ROD BLAGOJEVICH would appoint Senate Candidate 1 to the open Senate seat.
- HARRIS suggested that SEIU Official make ROD BLAGOJEVICH the head of Change to Win and, in exchange, the President-elect could help Change to Win with its legislative agenda on a national level.
- HARRIS said that Change to Win will want to trade the job for ROD BLAGOJEVICH for something from the President-elect.
- HARRIS suggested a "three-way deal," and explained that a three-way deal like the one discussed would give the President-elect a "buffer so there is no obvious quid pro quo for [Senate Candidate 1]."
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding ROD BLAGOJEVICH.
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked what he can get from the President-elect for the Senate seat.
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that Governor General Counsel believes the President-elect can get ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife on paid corporate boards in exchange for naming the President-elect's pick to the Senate.
- Governor General Counsel asked, "can [the President-elect] help in the private sector. . . where it wouldn't be tied to him? . . .I mean, so it wouldn't necessarily look like one for the other."
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him."
- HARRIS re-stated ROD BLAGOJEVICH's thoughts that they should ask the President-elect for something for ROD BLAGOJEVICH's financial security as well as maintain his political viability.
- HARRIS said they could work out a three-way deal with SEIU and the President-elect where SEIU could help the President-elect with ROD BLAGOJEVICH's appointment of Senate Candidate 1 to the vacant Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign, and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future.
- Among other things, ROD BLAGOJEVICH raised the issue of whether the President-elect could help get ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife on "paid corporate boards right now."
- Advisor A responded that he "think[s] they could" and that a "President-elect . . . can do almost anything he sets his mind to."
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed leaking to the same particular Chicago Sun-Times columnist that ROD BLAGOJEVICH is seriously considering Senate Candidate 5 for the open Senate seat, in order to send a message to the President-elect that there are options for the Senate seat beyond Senate Candidate 1.
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH suggested starting a 501(c)(4) organization (a non-profit organization that may engage in political activity and lobbying) and getting "his (believed to be the President-elect's) friend Warren Buffett or some of those guys to help us on something like that."
- Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them."
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH again raised the idea of the 501(c)(4) organization and asked whether "they" (believed be the President-elect and his associates) can get Warren Buffett and others to put $10, $12, or $15 million into the organization.
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH noted that the President-elect can ask Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and others for money for the organization.
- HARRIS said that funding the 501(c)(4) would be a lot easier for the President-elect than appointing ROD BLAGOJEVICH to a position.
- Advisor B stated that he likes the idea, but liked the Change to Win option better because, according to Advisor B, from the President-elect's perspective, there would be fewer "fingerprints" on the President-elect's involvement with Change to Win because Change to Win already has an existing stream of revenue and, therefore, "you won't have stories in four years that they bought you off."
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH explained the 501(c)(4) organization idea to the advisor, and that "[the President-elect] gets these Warren Buffett types to [fund it]."
- The advisor said he likes the Change to Win idea better, and notes that it is more likely to happen because it is one step removed from the President-elect.
- During the conversation with SEIU Official on November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH informed SEIU Official that he had heard the President-elect wanted persons other than Senate Candidate 1 to be considered for the Senate seat.
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted to be able to call "[President-elect Advisor]" and tell President-elect Advisor that "this has nothing to do with anything else we're working on but the Governor wants to put together a 501(c)(4)" and "can you guys help him. . . raise 10, 15 million."
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted "[President-elect Advisor] to get the word today," and that when "he asks me for the Fifth CD thing I want it to be in his head."
- Also on November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wants the idea of the 501(c)(4) in President-elect Advisor's head, but not in connection with the Senate appointment or the congressional seat.
- Advisor A asked whether the conversation about the 501(c)(4) with President-elect Advisor is connected with anything else.
- Later on November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Advisor A to call Individual A and have Individual A pitch the idea of the 501(c)(4) to "[President-elect Advisor]."
From the December 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
MIKE HUCKABEE (host of Fox News' Huckabee): I think the greater issue is that the corrupt -- the corruptible person is the governor. I do not see that Barack Obama would be stupid enough to even worry with it.
HANNITY: All right. Why is he --
HUCKABEE: I just don't.
HANNITY: -- friends with all these radical --
ALAN COLMES (co-host): Here we go.
HANNITY: -- corrupt people? What -- what does that say about him?
HUCKABEE: Well, I think that his past relationships are certainly questionable. I still think Bill Ayers ought to be in prison. I think he ought to be in prison.
COLMES: Didn't we have an election? Didn't we just decide all this?
HUCKABEE: Yeah, we did. But I'm just talking about Bill Ayers. But Barack Obama, I don't think has any connection --
HUCKABEE: -- to the specific bribery issue --
HANNITY: You know what's interesting?
HUCKABEE: -- because he just has nothing to gain from it. Nothing.
HANNITY: Everything that we heard in the Gennifer Flowers tapes came true.
HANNITY: I wonder if we're beginning to see, perhaps, a lot of what we suspected about Barack Obama. A lot -- that I think the Tony Rezko issue is going to be a big problem for him, especially because he's all over this document. The pres -- the word "president-elect" is mentioned 44 times in the document. Pretty troubling.
HUCKABEE: But one thing let's keep in mind. You never saw the two of them out campaigning a lot together. They weren't doing a whole lot of stuff.
HANNITY: All right. Governor, thanks for being with us.