Hannity makes a habit of distorting quotes to smear progressives


Sean Hannity has repeatedly smeared progressives and Democrats by cropping their comments in ways that misrepresented them. Most recently, he cropped President Obama's answer to a question about the Cold War to falsely suggest he wasn't acknowledging the achievements of past presidents in freeing Eastern Europe.

Over the past few years, Fox News host Sean Hannity has repeatedly smeared progressives and Democrats by cropping their comments in a way that misrepresented them. Most recently, during the July 8 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity spliced President Obama's answer to a Fox News reporter's question about the Cold War to suggest that Obama did not acknowledge the actions of past U.S. presidents in freeing Eastern Europe. As Media Matters for America documented, Hannity edited out the part of Obama's answer in which he said, "I'm very proud of the traditions of Democratic and Republican presidents to lift the Iron Curtain."

Media Matters has documented numerous instances in which Hannity has cropped quotes or clips to misrepresent what actually was said. Some of the most egregious examples include:

  • During the June 4 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity deceptively edited a clip of Obama's June 4 speech in Cairo to claim that Obama "decided to give 9-11 sympathizers a voice on the world stage," when Obama was in fact specifically condemning the attacks. Hannity played Obama's comment that "I am aware that there's still some who would question or even justify the events of 9-11." Hannity left out what Obama said next: that Al Qaeda "chose to ruthlessly murder" 9-11 victims, who "had done nothing to harm anybody," and that "these are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with."
  • 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." He later asked: "Why is there this anti-Americanism in Europe?" In fact, immediately after the part of the speech Hannity played, Obama criticized anti-Americanism in Europe and Europeans who "choose to blame America for much of what's bad."
  • During the March 6 edition of his Fox show, Hannity purported to "go to the videotape" and "show the audience at home" Obama's "campaign promise" of "no earmarks." He then aired several clips that purportedly showed this "campaign promise." In fact, in three of the clips, Obama was referring to reforming the earmark process, and in a fourth, he was asserting that an opponent was being hypocritical for taking earmarks and then advocating against them. Hannity's fifth clip, which showed Obama saying, "We are going to ban all earmarks -- the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review," was actually taken from a post-campaign media availability, during which Obama made clear that he wanted to "ban all earmarks" from the "recovery and reinvestment plan," not from "the overall budget process."
  • During the August 15, 2008, broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Hannity falsely asserted that Obama had "openly complained about 'white folks' greed.' " As evidence, he played a clip of Obama saying, "White folks' greed runs a world in need." But the clip is from the Obama-narrated audiobook edition of his memoir, Dreams From My Father, in a passage in which Obama quotes parts of a sermon by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
  • During the July 10, 2008, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Hannity distorted former President Bill Clinton's remarks to claim that Clinton was "obviously taking a shot at Senator [John] McCain." Hannity aired the following parts of Clinton's remarks: "[E]very living soul on the planet has some often highly justified anger"; "[I]f you know anybody who was ever a POW for any length of time, you will see that you go along for months or maybe even years, and then something will happen, it'll trigger all those bad dreams, and they'll come back, and it may not last 30 seconds"; and, "It's not like all that stuff just went away." But Clinton was discussing what former South African President -- and political prisoner -- Nelson Mandela means to him. Indeed, the sentence from which Hannity took his final quote actually read in full: "It's not like all that stuff just went away, but he [Mandela] disciplined himself and his mind and his heart and his spirit to always work to constantly overcome it every day."
  • During the October 28, 2008, broadcast of his radio show, Hannity aired Obama's statement from a 2001 radio interview that "[t]here's a lot of change going on outside of the [Supreme Court] that, you know, the judges have to essentially take judicial notice of. I mean, you've got World War II. You've got the doctrines of Nazism that we are fighting against that start looking uncomfortably similar to what's going on back here at home." Hannity aired the clip twice, then stated: "He's comparing -- looking similar to what Nazism is back here at home? Has anybody picked up on this in the media?" But Hannity left out Obama's next sentence, which made clear he was not speaking about modern-day America: "You've got African Americans who are returning from the war with certain expectations in terms of, 'Why is it that I'm now in uniform and yet am denied more freedom here than I was in France or Italy?' "
  • During the June 17, 2007, edition of Fox News' Hannity's America, Hannity aired a clip from a December 15, 2003, speech by then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, in which she said, "I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. ... We have no option but to stay involved and committed." He then asserted, "A year into the war, when most Democrats completely turned their back on the president's decision to invade Iraq, Hillary maintained her support." But almost immediately after the first sentence that Hannity quoted from the speech, Clinton said: "I have had many disputes and disagreements with the administration over how that authority has been used, but I stand by the vote to provide the authority because I think it was a necessary step in order to maximize the outcome that did occur in the Security Council with the unanimous vote to send in inspectors."
  • On July 15, 2007, Hannity asserted that "Hillary's time as partner in the [Rose] law firm was closely associated with her husband's political seat in the state of Arkansas," then stated: "George Wells, a reporter who covered the courts for Arkansas papers, said the following in a 1994 interview with the Baltimore Sun, quote: 'A few people would say that the Rose Law Firm was married to Governor Clinton -- and there were businesses that thought it was to their advantage with the state to go to Rose.' End quote." But the next sentence in the Sun article quoted Wells saying: "But no one in the firm that I know of ever solicited business based on the governor's wife being a partner there."

Media Matters has previously identified many instances in which other Fox News figures have also misleadingly cropped the statements of progressives or Democrats.

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Sean Hannity
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