Hannity just can't "get over" his Rev. Wright obsession

››› ››› ADAM SHAH

Sean Hannity -- who claimed he "broke the story" about President Obama's controversial former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, during the 2008 campaign -- has mentioned Wright on at least 45 different episodes of his Fox News show* since Obama's inauguration. Indeed, his repeated references to Wright -- most recently in discussions about Obama and race relations in America -- have prompted his own guests to comment, "You always want to bring up Reverend Wright," and "Sean, you need to get over it."

Hannity brought up Wright in discussions of Gates arrest

July 30: Hannity: "Now are people going to look a little bit more closely at this case? Are they going to look at the 20 years in Wright's church?" Discussing the controversial arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., Hannity said: "Let's look at this this way, because a lot was discussed about the issue of race prior to this election. Will America -- has America grown and overcome its past wrongs and injustices, and will America elect an African-American president? All right, that -- we now know the answer to that question, which I think is a good thing for the country. But now the question is, he was supposed to be post-racial. Now are people going to look a little bit more closely at this case? Are they going to look at the 20 years in Wright's church?" [Hannity; 7/30/09]

July 29: Hannity: "I don't want to keep bringing up Reverend Wright, but I think it -- I think it's relevant here." National Review editor Rich Lowry said: "And Henry Louis Gates' reaction to policemen showing up to his door based on an innocent call reflects that mindset. And the great benefit of Barack Obama during the campaign is he didn't seem to buy into that mindset at all. And now he's taking a step towards it." Hannity responded, "Look, this goes back, and I don't want to keep bringing up Reverend Wright, but I think it -- I think it's relevant here." [Hannity; 7/29/09]

July 27: Hannity: People "said guys like Hannity are wrong ... [Obama is] not Reverend Wright. And now maybe they're going to see another side of him." Hannity said: "But in that sense is that why maybe this Gates issue is important? Because people gave him the benefit of the doubt. They said guys like Hannity are wrong, that just -- they gave -- he's not Reverend Wright. And now maybe they're going to see another side of him. Does that chip away at his personal popularity?" [Hannity; 7/27/09]

Hannity claims Obama "is Reverend Wright"

July 10: Hannity: "I've said he is Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright." Hannity said, "I've said he is Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright. Not Bill Ayers the terrorist; Bill Ayers, the political radical. All right." [Hannity; 7/10/09]

July 1: Hannity: "I think he is ... Ayers and Wright." Hannity said, "And this is my take -- which makes you mad, Kirsten [Powers, Fox News political analyst] -- I think he is Ayers and Obama -- Ayers and Wright. Not Ayers the terrorist; Ayers the radical." [Hannity; 7/1/09]

June 22: Hannity: "I think he is Reverend Wright. I think he hid it well, but I think he's now implementing and proving me right." Hannity said: "But the idea, though, in his heart and in his soul, as you predicted and now you see the implementation of, the radical socialist agenda, the weakening of national defenses, his unwillingness to even speak out for freedom as we've been discussing, show a weakness with North Korea. All these things. You know, you think it's about what? Who is this person? Look, I said this statement, and every time I say it, people say, 'Hannity, you're going over the line.' But I think he is Bill Ayers." Fox News contributor Dick Morris responded, "Yeah." Hannity continued, "And I'm not -- not the terrorist, I think he shares the political ideology. I think he is Reverend Wright. I think he hid it well, but I think he's now implementing and proving me right." [Hannity; 6/22/09]

Hannity invoked Wright to bolster claim that Obama is in "blame America first" camp

Hannity brought up Wright while misrepresenting Obama to claim he engaged in "blam[ing] America first." As Media Matters for America documented, on April 3, Hannity played a clip of Obama saying in an April 3 speech in Strasbourg, France: "In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America's shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." Hannity then said, "And the liberal tradition of blame America first, well, that's still alive. But should we really be surprised from a man who sat in Reverend Wright's church." In fact, immediately after the part of the speech Hannity played, Obama criticized anti-Americanism in Europe as well as Europeans who "choose to blame America for much of what's bad."

Guests call out Hannity on his Wright obsession

Lowry to Hannity: "You do want to bring up Reverend Wright. You always want to bring up Reverend Wright. Don't lie to the American people." In a discussion about Gates with Lowry, Hannity said: "Look, this goes back, and I don't want to keep bringing up Reverend Wright, but I think it -- I think it's relevant here. In as much as he sat in that church for 20 -- " Lowry responded: "That's not true, Sean. You do want to bring up Reverend Wright. You always want to bring up Reverend Wright. Don't lie to the American people." [Hannity; 7/29/09]

Fortune editor Nina Easton: "Sean, you need to get over it."

HANNITY: Nina, if I would have written this out on paper --

EASTON: Yes.

HANNITY: -- that a presidential candidate sits in Reverend Wright's church, "G-d America," "America's chickens come home to roost," all the stuff that he said, and he defends him, sat there 20 years, and starts in Bill Ayers' house.

EASTON: Sean -- Sean, you need to --

HANNITY: You're going to tell me to get over it. Come on.

EASTON: Sean, you need to get over it. OK?

HANNITY: I can't help myself.

EASTON: This was a -- this was an -- this was an issue that was thoroughly written about, talked about.

HANNITY: No, it wasn't.

EASTON: Yeah.

HANNITY: No, it was not.

EASTON: Oh, yes it was, Sean. And the voters decided. [Hannity; 5/19/09]

Transcripts

From the July 30 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Let's look at this this way, because a lot was discussed about the issue of race prior to this election. Will America -- has America grown and overcome its past wrongs and injustices, and will America elect an African-American president?

All right, that -- we now know the answer to that question, which I think is a good thing for the country. But now the question is, he was supposed to be post-racial. Now are people going to look a little bit more closely at this case? Are they going to look at the 20 years in Wright's church? Are they going to look at his radical friends Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers that blew up the Pentagon and the Capitol, and are they going to say --

NOELLE NIKPOUR (Republican strategist): He couldn't resist it. He couldn't resist it. That's why he jumped in it, and not knowing all the facts. I mean, and look.

HANNITY: He couldn't resist it. Why?

NIKPOUR: He couldn't resist coming out of it.

HANNITY: Because this is who he really is?

NIKPOUR: Absolutely. You can't sit in someone's church for all those years and not have any recollection of anything.

HANNITY: A guy that -- a guy that --

NIKPOUR: I can't believe it.

HANNITY: -- doesn't have a fond view of America?

NIKPOUR: Absolutely.

HANNITY: A guy that has racist views? Looks at America --

From the July 27 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

MORRIS: Well, you know, there is this undercurrent that goes on. I remember back to the days before the election, when you kept talking about Reverend Wright, and I said that Reverend Wright and Obama are two completely different people. Well, I think I was wrong.

HANNITY: Yeah.

MORRIS: So now I'm not going to say that. I think that you really --

HANNITY: That's right. Any time you want to come on the show and admit I was right, Dick, you're welcome to say --

MORRIS: That's right. I know, you were.

HANNITY: But there is a connection. And I felt very strongly about this at the time, and I feel so today. That if you spend that amount of time, any of us can have --

MORRIS: Sure.

HANNITY: -- a bad association, but after you realize somebody is really extreme, you disassociate from them. He never did that.

MORRIS: Never did that. You know, police -- black-police relationships is the only field in which there is a substantial difference between black and white perceptions. You don't have it on crime or on affirmative action or anything else, but you have it on police relations. The whites say there is no bias; the blacks say there is a bias.

And it runs very, very deep in the black psyche that this is the case, particularly with the black middle class, because they feel the equal of whites, and they are, except when they're in the car they feel the cop is picking on them. And it's kind of like -- they always feel like they have to watch themselves, because they're worried about that. And I think that that runs so deep in the psyche that I think Obama blurted it out.

HANNITY: Let's talk a little bit about these polls and political trends. The president now has his lowest presidential index on Rasmussen, minus 11 now. If you look at the politicians that are in trouble, we got Corzine, Paterson --

MORRIS: Right.

HANNITY: -- two governors in New Jersey and New York. Chris Dodd, Harry Reid, Pelosi, Boxers, at record low numbers. When you look at that, how do you interpret these trends?

MORRIS: Clearly there has been a major trend in the last month, two months, but certainly the last month away from Obama. Every single poll has him dropping, has the Democratic Party dropping, has health care reform dropping, and the interesting thing about this is we always liked Obama more than we liked his programs.

Now he's using his popularity to sell his programs. The problem is that's lowering his popularity, and the lower his popularity gets the less likely health care is to pass. So when he pushes health care he's hurting health care, because he's bringing down the ratings that he needs to get it passed.

HANNITY: But in that sense, is that why maybe this Gates issue is important? Because people gave him the benefit of the doubt. They said guys like Hannity are wrong, that just -- they gave -- he's not Reverend Wright. And now maybe they're going to see another side of him. Does that chip away at his personal popularity?

MORRIS: Yeah, it does a great deal, and it makes him suspect on all of his positions. But it's not so much that he's pro-black. It's that he's coming across as anti-police. And the real issue here is not respect for the black community, but respect for the men in uniform.

From the July 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

RON DANIELS (radio host): My criticism of Barack Obama is he's not bold enough. He's too cautious. He's too pragmatic. He should have [inaudible].

NIKPOUR: No, he is radical. He is a radical.

HANNITY: I -- we'll end it on that accurate note. I've said he is Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright. Not Bill Ayers the terrorist --

NIKPOUR: You got that right.

HANNITY: Bill Ayers, the political radical. All right.

NIKPOUR: You got that right.

HANNITY: Guys, good to see you. Thank you.

From the July 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: For the first time in my adult life, I am concerned about the future of this country, the economy, unilateral disarmament.

MORGAN BRITTANY (actress): Me too.

HANNITY: And I feel we have a president that doesn't understand America's historic role in the world.

BRITTANY: Exactly.

HANNITY: And this is my take -- which makes you mad, Kirsten -- I think he is Ayers and Obama -- Ayers and Wright. Not Ayers the terrorist; Ayers the radical.

KIRSTEN POWERS (Fox News political analyst): I just couldn't disagree with you more.

HANNITY: I think it's true, and he shows it every day.

POWERS: And I can tell you, I think he's a fantastic president.

* Examination of Nexis hits for (show(Hannity) & Wright) after January 20.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Race & Ethnicity, Government
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity
Show/Publication
Hannity
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