Hannity hyped baseless GOP allegations against Pelosi concerning waterfront project

On the May 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, while discussing baseless Republican accusations that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) included a provision in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 that benefits property owned by her husband, Paul Pelosi, co-host Sean Hannity asserted: "[T]he Pelosi camp says she added the provision at the city's request and that her husband's holdings had nothing to do with it." But it is not just “Pelosi's camp” saying that Pelosi added the provision at the city's request -- Port of San Francisco officials reportedly confirmed it hours before Hannity & Colmes aired.

As Media Matters for America has noted, blogger and media critic Greg Sargent reported on the afternoon of May 8 that Port of San Francisco officials said they specifically requested the improvements included in Pelosi's earmark. In his post, Sargent quoted Brad Benson, “the special project manager of the Port of San Francisco,” saying:

The port initiated these requests. They came entirely from the city and county of San Francisco. [The requests] were generated at the staff level. The port initiated our request through the city and county of San Francisco. Our requests were funneled through the mayor's office on up to Speaker Pelosi's office...If anyone is claiming that Pelosi initiated these requests in some way, that's completely false.

Later in the program, Dan Gerstein, who worked for the re-election campaign of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT), observed that Paul Pelosi's property is “more than a mile away from the project” and that Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, admitted that he didn't have “any facts” to back up the accusation of wrongdoing. When co-host Alan Colmes asked whether there is evidence to suggest Pelosi's husband will benefit from the project, Hannity replied, “Yes,” but then offered no evidence that was audible, even as Colmes pressed him to cite this “evidence.”

As Media Matters noted, a May 7 Associated Press article reported that “Republicans are accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of including a provision in a water redevelopment bill that could benefit property her husband owns in San Francisco,” but the article also noted that Republicans have “offered no evidence” to support the accusation -- raising the question of why the AP thought the article worth writing at all.

From the May 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, which also featured right-wing pundit Ann Coulter:

HANNITY: Nancy Pelosi may have gotten herself into some bad business. Republicans are now accusing her of backing a San Francisco redevelopment port project that could have benefited some of her husband's multimillion-dollar rental properties that are nearby. Now, the Pelosi camp says she added the provision at the city's request and that her husband's holdings had nothing to do with it and that Republican accusations are speculative at best.

Joining us now, author of the number-one New York Times bestseller Godless, Ann Coulter is with us. Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein is with us.

Let me ask you a question. I don't care who asked her to do this. But if she's going to be involved -- because she did lecture us during the last election how she would be the most ethical person -- if she is going to be involved in putting money that would benefit her husband in any way, shape, manner, or form, isn't there, at the minimum, an appearance of impropriety and possible corruption? And shouldn't she have known better?

GERSTEIN: Not at all. I mean, Sean, first, as a general rule, people who live in glass houses built by [disgraced lobbyist] Jack Abramoff should not be throwing ethical stones at other people.

HANNITY: Stop with your liberal clichés. I asked you about Nancy Pelosi.

GERSTEIN: First of all, House Republicans have no credibility to lob any kind of ethics charges.

HANNITY: Listen, please, please. Stop with the talking points. I'm asking you --

GERSTEIN: It's not the talking points. That's an important point. It's a credibility issue.

HANNITY: You've given me your liberal clichés. I asked you if she --

GERSTEIN: I will get to it if you let me finish.

HANNITY: -- is giving money to a project that would benefit her husband.

GERSTEIN: Absolutely not.


GERSTEIN: This is a pathetic excuse for a fishing expedition. The Republican guy who lobbed the accusations, Representative Hensarling, even said, “I don't have facts to show that there was no wrongdoing.” Even he acknowledges. I mean, like the Republicans are now taking George Bush's incompetence to whole new levels. They can't even run a smear campaign right.

HANNITY: You know what? You're a walking talking point. You've got to think out of the box here.


HANNITY: I have a question for you. And, again, no talking points. When Nancy Pelosi had to load up the supplemental appropriations bill for the funding of the troops, and she literally had to buy the votes of other congressmen to get that bill passed. Can you just admit and be intellectually honest and say there's something fundamentally wrong about buying votes when our troops' bullets, supplies, and armor are at stake?

GERSTEIN: Well, first, I want to respond to what you asked about in terms of the specific instance. I'll answer the question but -- there's no evidence -- Sean, just wait. There's no evidence that this is going to benefit her husband's developments. It's more than a mile away from the project. It was done at the --

HANNITY: Hey, Dan, if you want to answer your own questions, I'm going to ask you to get --

COLMES: By the way, it's my turn to speak now. On the supplemental bill, if they had planned this war properly in the first place, you wouldn't need all these supplemental emergency spending bills and provide for body armor and training for troops after they've already been there four years. However --

COULTER: Wait, Alan, what are you talking about? What's the question here?

COLMES: Something very important is what I'm talking about, which happens to be the well-being of our troops. But do you have any evidence whatsoever -- talk about talking points -- the talking points that everything Nancy Pelosi does is somehow corrupt, according to Republicans. Do you have any evidence that her husband benefits in any way from her --


COLMES: What evidence is there, since you would like to answer for Ann Coulter? What evidence is there?

COULTER: First of all, I do want --

COLMES: No, Sean would like to answer the question. What is the evidence?

COULTER: I do want to point out --

COLMES: All right, let him throw his voice into your body now.

COULTER: -- that you guys chose the subject and invited me on, so you can't accuse me --

COLMES: So tell me what the evidence is.

COULTER: -- of using talking points when I've said nothing about this until you invite me on tonight.

COLMES: Tell me what the evidence is that she's benefiting or that her husband's benefiting financially.

COULTER: Because he does have rental properties there. I mean, he's not the only person --

COLMES: A mile and a half away.

COULTER: Wait! I'm trying to answer, and you interrupt. It benefits everyone in the San Francisco area, as opposed to single mothers working for Wal-Mart in the rest of the country. This is --

COLMES: No, the charge is that it benefits Paul Pelosi.

COULTER: Can you explain how it is that the federal government is supposed to be building ports in San Francisco? Why is that? You're the Democrat.

COLMES: Because the ports -- because steamers and ships come in, and they bring cargo from around the globe, and it's a federal issue.

COULTER: So they need to beautify it. Oh, and they also --

COLMES: The charge, Ann, is that Paul Pelosi is benefiting. Do you have any evidence whatsoever that that's the case?

COULTER: No, the charge is that her constituents are benefiting, including Paul.

GERSTEIN: No, that's not the charge.

COLMES: No, that's not the charge. Conservatives are charging --

HANNITY: -- property values.

COULTER: And, moreover, it's not like this has come out of nowhere. I mean, she has nonunion help. She supports illegal immigrants coming in.

COLMES: You're totally changing the subject from Paul Pelosi, which is what the charge is.

COULTER: No. No, I'm not changing the subject, if you'll let me finish.

HANNITY: If you let her answer, she's answering.

COLMES: Answer about Paul Pelosi. Where does he benefit?

COULTER: This isn't coming out of a vacuum. It is coming from Paul Pelosi and his wife using the federal government in order to benefit their personal interests, which is, as I was trying to say before you interrupted me, because you definitely don't want this coming out, that is to say they employ nonunion labor, they encourage illegal immigrants to come to this country, but, curiously enough, she opposes --

COLMES: What does this have to do with this port issue? You're totally changing the subject.