Hannity blamed "anti-war left" for protest at soldier's funeral actually organized by anti-gay church

››› ››› JOE BROWN

On the August 30 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News host Sean Hannity falsely blamed "the anti-war left" for a protest at the August 28 funeral of Sgt. Jeremy Doyle of Indianapolis, who was killed while serving in Iraq. Hannity read excerpts of an article on the website of Indianapolis TV station WISH describing the protest, adding, "I guess this is just another example of how the anti-war left supports our brave troops." In fact, as The Indianapolis Star reported, the protesters were not anti-war liberals but, rather, members of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in Topeka, Kansas, who claim that the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq are inflicted by God to punish the United States for its acceptance of gays and lesbians.

One of the church's websites claims that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the space shuttle Columbia disaster, and the improvised explosive device (IED) attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq are examples of divine retribution visited upon the United States, allegedly as a punishment for the "sin" of homosexuality. A statement on the website reads: "Thank God for IEDs killing American soldiers in strange lands every day. WBC rejoices every time the Lord God in His vengeance kills or maims an American soldier with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED)."

Led by Rev. Fred W. Phelps Sr., the anti-gay church also picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay man beaten to death in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998.

Although Hannity read from a section of the WISH article explaining that the protesters see the deaths of American troops as "punishment for social misdeeds," he went on to blame "the anti-war left" for the protest.

From the August 30 broadcast of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:

HANNITY: Let me read to you from Indianapolis. Headline: "Funeral for fallen Hoosier soldier brought some unwanted guests." Let me read this. Now, put this in the context of the story we did for you last week about Code Pink and about how Code Pink was protesting in front of Walter Reed Medical Center. Remember, they had their "Maimed for Lies" signs and "Enlist Here and Die for Halliburton" signs? And this is where these soldiers come back to try and get their lives together after receiving these awful, often life-threatening wounds. And yet, these people with political agendas are outside Walter Reed Medical Center protesting. And my point to them was, "Hey, look, if you want to protest, let's leave the injured soldiers alone, they need time to recuperate. Take it to the White House. Take it to some other area."

So anyway, the story in Indianapolis goes like this, quote: "Emotions ran high for an Army soldier's funeral in Martinsville on Sunday. Sgt. Jeremy Doyle's sacrifice brought many out to honor him, but also sparked a standoff on a city street. People arriving to say goodbye to a hometown hero met an altogether different scene in Martinsville, as demonstrators dragging American flags on the ground and holding signs opposing U.S. troops. 'The thing that got us here is that Sergeant Doyle died for us to give us our freedom, and then you have people like this come. It's absurd,' one funeral attendee told News 8 in Indianapolis. Tensions grew before demonstrations [sic: demonstrators] finally left their location right across the street from Army Sgt. Jeremy Doyle's funeral service. According to the group's website, it sees America's -- Americans' deaths in Iraq as a kind of punishment for social misdeeds. Martinsville residents said that the protesters picked the wrong time in the wrong town to express their views. Which rightfully -- so they have their freedom of expression. Nobody's going to take that away from them, but there is a time and a place for this kind of thing, and it's certainly not here today."

Now, who's Jeremy Doyle? Well, he died along with three other soldiers on August the 18th, when their Humvee hit a landmine on an Iraqi highway. This guy died for all of us. His final journey was a procession down Main Street, past the courthouse square. "'If I had to lose a son, if I had to lose one, I'd -- I'd rather it be serving our country,' his father explained. The protesters were headquartered in Kansas. They traveled across the country to demonstrate against a soldier." And you know something? I guess this is just another example of how the anti-war left supports our brave troops. 'Cause isn't that what they always say? They're disrupting the funeral, tormenting a grieving family. Can you believe I even have to bring this story to the airwaves? And creating an incredible spectacle in the middle of an occasion to honor a guy who died serving his country? But of course, they're supporting our troops. They're not supporting them; they're targeting our troops!

What's the difference between this or protesting outside the entrance to Walter Reed, where our wounded soldiers go to recover? I mean, these sol -- just can't believe that our soldiers and our -- and their families have to endure this pathetic atta -- these pathetic attacks, these chants, these posters as they enter and leave a hospital.

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