In the absence of any allegations of wrongdoing by President-elect Barack Obama or his staff in connection with the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich, media figures continue to warn that a "cloud" hangs over Obama or assert that the scandal threatens to cast a "cloud" over Obama's presidency.
On Hannity's America, Sean Hannity repeated the baseless claim that "the Obamas pa[id] $300,000 below market value" for their house. Additionally, after recounting that the Obamas purchased land from the adjacent lot owned by Antoin Rezko, Hannity asserted: "And then, as state senator, he helped funnel money to these housing projects that Tony Rezko and other friends were working on." In fact, Obama's letter in support of a Rezko housing project was written seven years before the Obamas purchased their home, and both parties have reportedly said that Rezko did not solicit the letter.
On Hannity's America, Sean Hannity asserted that "the word 'president-elect' was mentioned ... 44 times" in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which, Hannity said, "is a pretty high, high number." Hannity had previously described the number of mentions of the word "president-elect" in the complaint as "pretty troubling." In fact, with one exception, none of the 44 instances in which "president-elect" was used in the complaint actually mentioned any alleged conduct or statement by President-elect Barack Obama, much less any conduct or statement amounting to wrongdoing. The one exception was an allegation that Blagojevich complained that Obama would not give him anything other than "appreciation."
On Hannity & Colmes, discussing reports that "Senate Candidate 5" in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rob Blagojevich is a reference to Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Sean Hannity asserted that Jackson "gave an emotional -- and he gave a very passionate defense of his conduct here" and that "he came off as very credible and believable to me." Hannity added, "[B]ut there's always a skeptical side of me. You know, in the back of my mind I hear that voice, 'I did not have sex.' You know, I hear Bill Clinton."
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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."
Disregarding U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's warning to "not cast aspersions on people for being named or being discussed" in the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several in the media have used the scandal as an opportunity to engage in suggestions of guilt-by-association against President-elect Barack Obama, by rehashing Obama's purportedly "questionable associations," or suggesting that Obama is a product of corrupt "Chicago politics."
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity stated that under President George W. Bush, "We created 10 million new jobs, lower unemployment than in the last four decades' average." In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States has gained 2,866,000 net private-sector jobs between 2001, when Bush took office, and the first quarter of 2008.
On his radio show, Sean Hannity complained of Sen. Ted Stevens' speedy trial on corruption charges, contrasting it with Rep. William Jefferson's case, saying that "justice moves at lightning speed" for Republicans like Stevens. Hannity added, "Not only do you get indicted, you get tried, you get convicted in record time, but the Justice Department moves so fast, it's like some kind of national emergency." But Hannity did not note that Stevens and his attorneys reportedly requested a speedy trial following his indictment so that Stevens could "clear his name" before Election Day.
Sean Hannity falsely asserted that President-elect Barack Obama "talked about in the campaign cutting tens of millions of dollars in defense spending" when, in fact, Obama said he would cut "tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending." Hannity also asserted that Obama said "[h]e's not gonna weaponize space, slow development of Future Combat Systems" and that he would "set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons" without noting that former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and other prominent GOP figures have advocated similar positions.
On his radio and television programs, Sean Hannity falsely suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's use of a military jet for transportation was unprecedented. In fact, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, 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 the first speaker to use such a plane was Dennis Hastert (R-IL) in 2001.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity asserted that Al Franken is "trying to steal the election" because the Franken campaign "has been trying to challenge ballots that are clearly for Norm Coleman." Hannity subsequently aired several examples of ballots contested by Franken. However, Hannity did not display any of the published examples of ballots that the Coleman campaign has challenged that appear to be marked for Franken or another candidate besides Coleman.
Fox News hosts, reporters, and contributors have repeatedly provided or echoed the claims of only opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers the right to form or join a union if a majority of workers sign a card stating they want to unionize. Absent from numerous reports and discussions on Fox News is the argument made by proponents of EFCA that under the current system, employers often fire union supporters and pressure employees to vote against unionizing.
Sean Hannity baselessly asserted that "[t]he federal government and the Democrats ... forced these banks, through the Community Reinvestment Act, to make these risky loans," adding, "The risky loans started the subprime mortgage crisis, which impacted all these financial institutions, which needed government bailouts." In fact, according to housing experts, the vast majority of subprime loans were made by independent lenders not covered by the CRA.
Referring to the Minnesota Senate race recount on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity claimed Al Franken is challenging ballots "because he's trying to litigate his way into the Senate seat." But as of November 24, according to the office of the Minnesota secretary of state, Franken and Sen. Norm Coleman have challenged roughly the same number of ballots.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt rehashed the discredited claim that President-elect Barack Obama is to blame for recent declines in the stock market. In fact, analysts have cited economic data on dropping retail sales, increasing unemployment, and other significant factors to explain recent stock-market declines.