On Hannity & Colmes, Gingrich falsely claimed that Dennis Hastert "did not get a private plane"

››› ››› NATHAN TABAK

On Hannity & Colmes, Newt Gingrich falsely asserted that following 9-11, Dennis Hastert "did not get a private plane," adding that "[t]here's no reason for anyone but the president and vice president of the United States to have that level of security." In fact, at the time, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and Hastert was the first speaker to use one.

On the December 19 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Fox News contributor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) falsely asserted that former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) "did not get a private plane" following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Gingrich added: "There's no reason for anyone but the president and vice president of the United States to have that level of security." Gingrich made his comments during a segment in which co-host Sean Hannity criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) use of a private jet. In fact, following 9-11, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and Hastert was the first speaker to use one.

During the segment, Hannity said to Gingrich: "With all of this news and all of this outrage over the auto CEOs and private jets, et cetera, et cetera, here's what we discovered today -- that Princess Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader] Prince Harry Reid [D-NV] and every member of Congress during these tough economic times, they're going to get $4,700 in a pay increase. Nobody's mad that Nancy Pelosi has her private jet. You didn't have a private jet as speaker of the House." Co-host Alan Colmes later stated: "[O]n the private plane for Nancy Pelosi: She was advised after 9-11, as I understand it, for security reasons, to -- that she needed to have the private plane." Gingrich responded: "That's baloney. That is just baloney. Denny Hastert did not get a private plane. There's no reason for anyone but the president and vice president of the United States to have that level of security."

As Media Matters for America noted, contrary to Gingrich's claim that "Denny Hastert did not get a private plane," House Sergeant-at-Arms Wilson Livingood said in a February 8, 2007, statement: "In a post 9/11 threat environment, it is reasonable and prudent to provide military aircraft to the Speaker [of the House] for official travel between Washington and her district. The practice began with Speaker Hastert and I have recommended that it continue with Speaker Pelosi."

In addition, then-White House press secretary Tony Snow said in a February 7, 2007, White House press briefing, "After September 11th, the Department of Defense -- with the consent of the White House -- agreed that the Speaker of the House should have military transport." He also said: "So Speaker Hastert had access to military aircraft and Speaker Pelosi will, too." The next day, Snow stated, "It is important for the Speaker to have this kind of protection and travel," adding that such protection was "certainly appropriate for Speaker Hastert."

Media Matters previously documented Hannity's false suggestion that Pelosi's use of a military jet for transportation was unprecedented on the December 4 broadcasts of his nationally syndicated radio program and his Fox News television program, as well as Gingrich's assertion on that evening's edition of Hannity & Colmes that Pelosi's use of a military jet for transportation was a "misuse of Air Force personnel" and that "there's no practical reason for it."

From the December 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: And we continue now with former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, I want to take a -- stand back and look at the big picture here: $700 billion bailout for banks, for financial institutions, for insurance companies. We have Barack Obama and the Democrats putting on the table nearly $1 trillion, including a new welfare program they'll create as part of their stimulus package.

Now, the $17 billion is a loan. I don't want to see one autoworker lose their job -- neither does any American -- but we need the unions to work with the auto companies. But here's my problem: With all of this news and all of this outrage over the auto CEOs and private jets, et cetera, et cetera, here's what we discovered today -- that Princess Nancy Pelosi and Prince Harry Reid and every member of Congress during these tough economic times, they're going to get $4,700 in a pay increase. Nobody's mad that Nancy Pelosi has her private jet. You didn't have a private jet as speaker of the House.

Why isn't there more anger at Washington government mismanagement than, you know, companies?

GINGRICH: Well, I think there's a pretty good bit of anger about Congress and the entire mess in Washington. I think there's hope that President-elect Obama will somehow represent a change, but I have to say that the things we're seeing happen are almost unimaginable.

Here you have the U.S. Congress rejecting help for the auto companies, saying that it shouldn't be passed unless there are very strong changes, and having the United Auto Workers in particular reject those changes. Now, you have the president coming right back and saying he doesn't care what the Congress did, he's going to write a check for $17 billion -- fundamentally wrong in every way.

The fact is that the United Airlines, for example, went into bankruptcy, spent four years reorganizing, came out of bankruptcy, is healthier and stronger today, and would not have survived without that reorganization. Giving these companies $17 billion without having them change their behavior simply throws away the money, buys a few extra months, and then the companies are going to continue getting weaker and weaker.

COLMES: But they do have to change their behavior, Mr. Speaker. In fact, by the way, on the private plane for Nancy Pelosi: She was advised after 9-11, as I understand it, for security reasons, to -- that she needed to have the private plane.

GINGRICH: That's --

COLMES: That's why she has it --

GINGRICH: That is just --

COLMES: -- based on what happened after 9-11.

GINGRICH: That's baloney. That is just baloney. Denny Hastert did not get a private plane. There's no reason for anyone but the president and vice president of the United States to have that level of security.

COLMES: But she was taking advice to do this. She didn't decide to do it. She was advised that this would be the safest way for her to travel.

HANNITY: She asked for a bigger plane.

GINGRICH: Alan.

COLMES: That's what happened.

GINGRICH: Alan, if you believe that, I want to introduce you to Mr. Martyr who may have a little bit of his phony stock left, because I'm sure he'd like to sell it to you.

COLMES: Well, thank you. Thank you for caring about my financial well-being. That's very kind of you, Mr. Speaker.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich
Show/Publication
Hannity & Colmes
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Progressives, Propaganda/Noise Machine
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