Fox News falsely claims Dems voted to "protect," "defend" pedophiles

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Sean Hannity, Bill Hemmer, and The Fox Nation advanced the false claim that House Democrats voted to "protect" or "defend" pedophiles by voting against an amendment to the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Discussing the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which defines as a federal crime certain acts of violence or attempted violence "because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person," Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Bill Hemmer, and The Fox Nation, have all recently advanced the false claim that House Democrats voted to "protect" or "defend" pedophiles by voting against an amendment to the bill by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) stating that "the term 'sexual orientation' shall not include pedophilia."* In fact, as Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) noted during an April 23 House Judiciary Committee hearing, the term "sexual orientation" is already defined by federal statute as applying only to "consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality," thereby excluding pedophiles, who engage in nonconsensual sexual relationships with children. In providing her reasons for opposing King's amendment, Baldwin said that it "is unnecessary and, I would add, inflammatory in terms of insinuations."

During the May 5 edition of his Fox News program, Hannity teased a segment by claiming that "Democrats just voted to extend special legal protections to pedophiles" and later claimed that Democrats had included a "special category for pedophiles" in the hate crimes bill. Additionally, while interviewing King, Hannity asserted: "I want to be perfectly clear. So hate -- we have a hate crimes bill, and you're saying, all right, we should exempt pedophiles. Every Democrat says no." King replied that Hannity had it "absolutely right," and that "on the top of that, the amendment that I offered to exempt pedophiles from a special protected status was after Tammy Baldwin, one of the lead sponsors on the bill, had argued that the sexual orientation, special protective status in the bill, only covered heterosexuals and homosexuals, so that doesn't include a pedophile. But she opposed the amendment anyway, as did all the Democrats, as you just showed tonight." Later, when Hannity asked King, "Is it safe to say that Democrats were willing to protect pedophiles?" King replied: "Sean, it is a matter of congressional record. Absolutely true -- beyond any doubt whatsoever."

Similarly, during the May 6 edition of Fox News's America's Newsroom, Fox News ran on-screen text that read, "House Dems vote to protect pedophiles, but not veterans":

Hemmer teased the segment by saying Democrats had reportedly "voted to give special protection to pedophiles." Also, a May 6 headline on The Fox Nation -- Fox News' purportedly bias-free website -- read: "House Democrats Defend Pedophiles Over Veterans."

In her statement opposing King's amendment, Baldwin noted that given the definition of "sexual orientation" under federal law "it is absolutely clear that that could not include pedophilia":

BALDWIN: I move to strike the last word in opposition to this amendment, that, well -- the gentleman claims that we have not pinned down the definition for sexual orientation. And, indeed, in our earlier session, yet today, I drew his attention to the fact that there is a definition with regard to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. During the break, I searched to just confirm that what I had articulated earlier today was indeed the definition and it is: "Sexual orientation is means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality." That is the definition.

Now, as you've noted earlier, there's only one term defined in this legislation, and that's gender identity on page 14. And the reason for that is that that definition exists nowhere else in federal law. This is the first time it's occurring in federal law. But in every other case, gender disability, sexual orientation, race, national origin, color, and -- I'm missing one. The architecture of the hate crime statutes in the United States is those definitions do not lay within that architecture. They exist elsewhere in federal law, and we rely on them. So there is a clear, concise definition of sexual orientation.

Your amendment is unnecessary and, I would add, inflammatory in terms of insinuations, I would say. But given the definition of sexual orientation meaning "consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality," it is absolutely clear that that could not include pedophilia.

Indeed, as Baldwin noted, the 2005 Hate Crimes Statistics Act states:

Nothing in this section creates a cause of action or a right to bring an action, including an action based on discrimination due to sexual orientation. As used in this section, the term 'sexual orientation' means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality. This subsection does not limit any existing cause of action or right to bring an action, including any action under the administrative Procedure Act or the All Writs Act.

From the May 6 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Democrats vote to protect pedophiles but not veterans in the hate crimes bill?

[...]

HANNITY: And coming up: We told you last week how Democrats oppose protecting veterans under the new hate crimes act. Well, guess what? They did decide to offer protection to pedophiles. The unbelievable details are straight ahead, and much more.

[...]

HANNITY: Democrats just voted to extend special legal protections to pedophiles but refuse to give combat veterans those same protections. Now, do you think that party needs to think long and hard about their priorities?

[...]

HANNITY: Now, during last week's debate on the hate crimes bill, Republicans proposed an amendment that would exempt pedophiles from receiving the protections of that bill that offers victims of hate crimes.

Now, the Democrats voted unanimously against the amendment. Here's what they said.

CLERK OF THE HOUSE: Mr. Scott votes no [...] Ms. Lofgren votes no [...] Mr. Cohen votes no [...] Mr. Johnson votes no [...] Mr. Pierluisi votes no [...] Mr. Gutierrez votes no [...] Mr. Sherman votes no [...] Ms. Baldwin votes no [...] Mr. Weiner votes no [...] Mr. Maffei votes no [...] Mr. Wexler votes no [...] Ms. Waters --

HANNITY: Now, meanwhile, as we first reported on this program last week, one Democratic congresswoman denounced an idea that veterans should receive any sort of protections at all.

And joining me now to discuss what exactly unfolded is Congressman Steve King. He sponsored the amendment that would have excluded pedophiles from this legislation. Congressman, good to see you.

KING: Thanks, Sean. It's good to be with you tonight.

HANNITY: I want to be perfectly clear. So hate -- we have a hate crimes bill, and you're saying, all right, we should exempt pedophiles. Every Democrat says no. But when there is -- the sponsorship of the bill that would also include veterans that are victims of crimes because they're veterans, Democrats -- they wanted them exempt but the pedophiles in. Do I have that right?

KING: You have it right, Sean. They were wrong on both counts, obviously. But you have it absolutely right. And on the top of that, the amendment that I offered to exempt pedophiles from a special protected status was after Tammy Baldwin, one of the lead sponsors on the bill, had argued that the sexual orientation, special protective status in the bill, only covered heterosexuals and homosexuals, so that doesn't include a pedophile. But she opposed the amendment anyway, as did all the Democrats, as you just showed tonight.

HANNITY: All right, Congressman. I got to slow down here, because I don't think I got this right. So the Democrats voted against special protected status to pedophiles in this bill.

KING: Yes.

HANNITY: But when they had a chance to offer special protected status to veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other wars, they said no. Tell me that I -- tell me that that didn't happen in Washington. Tell me that I'm really -- I got this whole thing messed up and backwards.

[...]

HANNITY: So I'm trying to understand it. Are we trying, through hate crimes legislation, to get into the thought process behind the crime instead of just punishing the actual crime and the actual act?

KING: Well, Sean, it is a thought. It is the thought crime. And I tried to bring this out in the mark-up before the Judiciary Committee. And I asked the specific question of the sponsors: Is it the perception of the perpetrator, or the perception of the victim?

And I got different answers. But, truthfully, it's both. Now we're trying to, by law, divine what was in head -- in the head of the victimizer, and what's in the head of the victim, who is self-alleged with their particular proclivity and would be protected by law given the circumstances of the legislation that passed off the floor of the House of Representatives.

So I think this is an area of law that we should stay completely away from. I think it brings about this special protected status. And I think that when you set up people that are -- that are victims, then you're dividing people. And so this is an agenda --

HANNITY: All right.

KING: -- of the homosexual activists. And they take this all the way through to imposing same-sex marriage on America.

HANNITY: Right.

KING: That's another part of this, and public affirmation is the goal.

HANNITY: We're running out of time. Is it safe to say that Democrats were willing to protect pedophiles but not offer the same protection to servicemen and women? Is that an accurate statement?

KING: Sean, it is a matter of congressional record. Absolutely true -- beyond any doubt whatsoever. The recorded votes are there to prove just what you've said. They -- and on top of that, [Rep.] Alcee Hastings [D] from Florida, that spoke on the rules debate, and he read a list of about 30 different paraphilias -- proclivities, I call them -- including pedophiles, necrophilia, and a number of things that I wouldn't say on this program or any other. And he said I think all philias whatsoever should be protected by this law.

That means every perversion that you can imagine would be special protected status under the Democrats' bill that passed off the -- floor of the House of Representatives.

[...]

HANNITY: All right. Let's ask this question. We had this segment with Congressman King earlier in the program today. And, literally, we showed the tape. Democrats literally -- he put in an amendment that, in the hate crimes legislation, that pedophiles wouldn't be covered.

All right. Now, I'm against hate crimes altogether, because I want to punish people that commit crimes, not trying to understand the thought process.

STEVE MURPHY (Democratic Strategist): So you're for the legislation?

HANNITY: No, no. I'm against it.

PAMELA GELLER (Atlas Shrugs blogger): Me too.

MURPHY: Exactly.

HANNITY: No, I'm against it.

MURPHY: Exactly.

HANNITY: But the Democrats that would not -- that insisted that pedophiles be included, they denied veterans the same protection. You're the Democrat here. Can you explain or justify that?

MURPHY: It's an absolute stunt. There is no protection for pedophiles in this legislation. It's an attempt to hold people accountable who commit crimes against gays --

HANNITY: You're not answering. No --

MURPHY: -- against Jews, against minorities --

HANNITY: Steve, you gotta be --

MURPHY: -- against women --

HANNITY: Steve, wait a minute. Hang on a second.

MURPHY: -- simply because of what they are.

HANNITY: Steve, they gave an amendment, a special amendment that would take out the protection for pedophiles. All the Democrats voted against it. When they voted -- when they had a vote to protect our veterans, they -- in that case, they weren't going to include them.

MURPHY: Because it was an attempt to kill the legislation by requiring thousands of categories to have to be put in there, as these people are exempt.

HANNITY: All right, so Steve --

GELLER: [Inaudible]

MURPHY: Just like they did with civil rights. Just like they did -- they stopped the legislation against lynching.

HANNITY: It was Robert Byrd -- it was Robert Byrd who was out there filibustering the civil rights bill -- and a lot of the former Klansmen, so --.

MURPHY: Exactly.

GELLER: Listen, I think hate crimes is such a dangerous -- such a dangerous line in the sand. It's like hate speech. To me, all crime is hate. Whatever is motivating you --

HANNITY: Great point. Great point.

GELLER: -- whatever it is that you do, it's hate. Why would you want -- this is America. It's based on the Constitution, rugged individualism.

Why would you want special classes? Why would you want a special class? It is absolutely, positively un-American.

MURPHY: It is a special problem. It is a special problem.

GELLER: A special problem? Where? In what -- yeah --

HANNITY: It's a special problems for veterans. Veterans come home, and they get spit at. Veterans come home and they get called names. Even Harry Reid --

MURPHY: It's the Star of Davids that get knocked over in the cemeteries, not the crosses.

HANNITY: No, you know what? It's veterans -- talk to them. Because I do talk to them. And I do a lot of concerts for them every year, and I get to meet them. If we're going to apply that special protection for pedophiles, shouldn't we at least apply it to veterans?

GREG BUTTLE (former NFL linebacker): Well, a hundred percent. I don't think anyone should ever not even think about that. As a matter of fact, I think they should take veterans, and if you ever served in real combat, don't pay federal taxes anymore.

HANNITY: I agree.

GELLER: Hear, hear.

BUTTLE: I mean, come on.

MURPHY: What happens if you're a veteran pedophile? What are you going to do about that?

GELLER: It's double -- double jeopardy.

HANNITY: Well, you're protected under the pedophile part, but not the veteran part. That's your answer.

GELLER: Yeah, from the waist up, you're covered.

HANNITY: Because the Democrats -- the Democrats protected the --

MURPHY: It's silly. It's a silly argument.

GELLER: It's not.

MURPHY: It's a phony, silly argument.

GELLER: It's a phony, silly law.

HANNITY: -- protected the special category for pedophiles, but they didn't protect it for veterans, and they had both votes. They put their vote on record. It's amazing to me.

From the May 5 edition of Fox News's America's Newsroom:

HEMMER: The conservative blogs are all over this story this morning. -- a report that House Democrats voted to give special protection to pedophiles.

From the April 23 House Judiciary Committee hearing:

KING: This amendment goes to the end of the bill, and it simply says, since we have apparently waived the reading of it, which I do -- it's very short -- it says, "The term sexual orientation as used in this act or any amendments to this act does not include pedophilia." And we've gone through in this debate significant discussion about what sexual orientation means and does not mean. And yet I have not heard from the proponents of this bill into the record a definition of sexual orientation.

I would like to have defined sexual orientation precisely. I recognize, Mr. Chairman, it's unlikely that we will get that done in this committee given the reticence on the part of the majority party to consider any of the changes that we've offered here -- I think in a fashion that is determined to bring this bill out of this committee. And I'm frustrated that we're not able to add better definitions to the ambiguous terms to lock people up in penitentiaries if this bill becomes law.

And, so, this amendment that I have addresses the issue of pedophiles. And under the term "sexual orientation," if it includes those types of proclivities, particularly the one that is most egregious of all -- and that is victimizing children for the sake of sexual activity with them -- the pedophiles should not be protected under this legislation if we're able to adopt this language that's in my amendment. So, my amendment does not specifically define sexual orientation, although I've tried to do that.

But what it does do is say it doesn't include pedophiles, because I think the intent of this committee is clearly that we don't want to provide a, let's just say, special-protected status, for pedophiles. There are others that I would put in that list as well, but this is the one that stands out to me. It should be beyond question that this committee should be able to take a look at this amendment and conclude that whatever we might think about proclivities, pedophiles is not one that should be included. And, so, that's what my -- I'd yield.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D-MI): The gentleman yields. I want to compliment him on the tenacity with which he has pursued specificity and the seeking of the definitions of many of these terms that are generally, frequently taken for granted, or thought to be somewhere in the law already existing.

KING: Reclaiming -- I thank the gentleman chairman for recognizing that. And I'd point out again that I do have some history with these terms, and having been involved in litigation of these terms, I understand, I think, from that experience the implications that might come forward with this kind of language that seemed to be accepted by a lot of members of this panel.

And so I would urge adoption of my amendment that defines clearly that whatever sexual orientation is, it is not, and does not include pedophiles. And with that, Mr. Chairman, I'd urge adoption of my amendment, and I would yield back the balance of my time.

BALDWIN: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I move to strike the last word in opposition to this amendment, that, well -- the gentleman claims that we have not pinned down the definition for sexual orientation. And, indeed, in our earlier session, yet today, I drew his attention to the fact that there is a definition with regard to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. During the break, I searched to just confirm that what I had articulated earlier today was indeed the definition and it is: "Sexual orientation is means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality." That is the definition.

Now, as you've noted earlier, there's only one term defined in this legislation, and that's gender identity on page 14. And the reason for that is that that definition exists nowhere else in federal law. This is the first time it's occurring in federal law. But in every other case, gender disability, sexual orientation, race, national origin, color, and -- I'm missing one. The architecture of the hate crime statutes in the United States is those definitions do not lay within that architecture. They exist elsewhere in federal law, and we rely on them. So there is a clear, concise definition of sexual orientation.

Your amendment is unnecessary and, I would add, inflammatory in terms of insinuations, I would say. But given the definition of sexual orientation meaning "consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality," it is absolutely clear that that could not include pedophilia.

Correction: 

This item originally stated that the proposed Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act "defines as a crime acts of attempted violence 'motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim.' " However, that quote did not come from the section of the bill that defined new federal crimes. The item has been updated to match the relevant definition of a new federal crime in the bill. Media Matters for America regrets the error.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, Fox Nation
Person
Sean Hannity, Bill Hemmer
Show/Publication
America's Newsroom, Hannity
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