On the May 24 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity asserted that Democratic presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (NC) -- whom he referred to as the "$400 haircut man" -- is “not really viewed as somebody that is up to the task of understanding the nature in the battle in the war that's being waged against us.” As evidence, Hannity pointed to a video of Edwards fixing his hair prior to a televised interview and the fact that Edwards recently spent $400 on a haircut. Hannity then asked executive director of Young Voter PAC Jane Fleming: “You don't see inherent weaknesses here in this campaign?”
As Media Matters for America documented, the media recently devoted extensive coverage to the news -- first “broken” by Politico senior political writer Ben Smith on April 16 -- that Edwards' campaign spent $800 on two haircuts. The story was covered by major print, broadcast, and cable outlets, and often featured characterizations of Edwards as “pretty” and the “Breck girl” -- echoing Republican and conservative attacks on Edwards dating back to 2004. On April 19, Edwards said that charging the haircuts to the campaign was a mistake and said he was reimbursing the money.
Hannity also asserted that Edwards “charges $55,000 speeches on poverty to students” -- a reference to a speech at the University of California at Davis that the Edwards campaign said was largely or entirely funded through ticket sales and sponsorship, as Media Matters has documented -- and cited Edwards' statement in a May 23 speech that the “war on terror is a ... bumper sticker.” Hannity failed to report that the speech, while critical of the Bush administration's approach, explained Edwards' own strategy for fighting terrorism, as Media Matters has also noted.
During the show, Hannity aired the YouTube video of Edwards fixing his hair, then immediately followed it with graphic still images of what he said was an “Al Qaeda manual." While airing the video and showing the graphic images, Hannity said: “And meanwhile, you know, when you juxtapose those images [of Edwards fixing his hair] that go on forever with the images that we have out today that came -- this Al Qaeda manual that talks about drilling hands, severing limbs, dragging people behind cars, eye removal, blow-torching people at the skin, suspending people from a ceiling, breaking limbs -- and then I think of the guy with the $400 haircut that primps his hair this way.” He also asserted that Edwards “really is what [Democratic strategist] Bob Shrum ... describes him as. He is an intellectual lightweight.” Hannity then told Fleming: "[T]he fact that you support him is frightening to me, because it tells me you don't understand the nature of the times we live in."
Near the end of the segment, co-host Alan Colmes asked: “Don't Republicans comb their hair, too?” Fleming then said: “Sean, I've seen you primp -- trust me. ... I've seen you get ready for your Fox things, too. You primp also.” Hannity responded: “I take three minutes -- three and a half.” Hannity had previously claimed that the Edwards video “goes on for five minutes.”
From the May 24 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Jane Fleming, look. Bob Shrum comes out with a book, I mean, and he worked very closely with John Edwards in the Kerry campaign. He describes your candidate as an overambitious lightweight that Kerry regretted even putting on the ticket. If you look at -- he's now recently said he wants to use Memorial Day services for people to go out and make an anti-war statement.
We've got the $400 haircut man that charges $55,000 speeches on poverty to students, and now he says the war on terror is a bumper sticker. You add that with this video we have of him primping his hair prior to an interview -- he's not really viewed as somebody that is up to the task of understanding the nature in the battle in the war that's being waged against us. You don't see inherent weaknesses here in this campaign?
FLEMING: No, I absolutely don't. I think Edwards is a person of character and strength. And the Memorial Day weekend activities that you're talking about, it's called “Support the Troops. End the War,” and it's absolutely correct. They're not only doing anti-war protests. A lot of people are going to Walter Reed. They're helping people that are veterans, and so that's completely off the table.
Let's talk about the $400 haircut just for once and for all, right? He did not know how much it was going to cost. He had somebody cut his hair on --
HANNITY: All right, let me show Ann Coulter.
FLEMING: -- location. It cost $400. Ann, wait, just one more thing.
HANNITY: I know. OK.
FLEMING: And you guys continue to talk about this.
HANNITY: Well, let's run some video. Hang on a second.
FLEMING: I am starting to wonder, do you think that Edwards' hair looks better than yours --
HANNITY: All right, but listen --
FLEMING: -- and that's why you keep on talking about it? I just -- I'm unclear.
HANNITY: No, I -- 100 percent. Let's run the video, which I think is the funniest video that YouTube has ever put up here of --
FLEMING: Yes, and your friend, Michelle Malkin, has it on her site, too.
HANNITY: -- John Edwards on the set, getting ready for an interview. This goes on for five minutes: the primping of the hair over and over and over again. And meanwhile, you know, when you juxtapose those images that go on forever with the images that we have out today that came -- this Al Qaeda manual that talks about drilling hands, severing limbs, dragging people behind cars, eye removal, blow-torching people at the skin, suspending people from a ceiling, breaking limbs -- and then I think of the guy with the $400 haircut that primps his hair this way, and I compare it to him saying that, you know, there's no global war on terror, he really is what Bob Shrum, the Democrat, describes him as.
He is an intellectual lightweight, and the fact that you support him is frightening to me, because it tells me you don't understand the nature of the times we live in.
COLMES: Don't Republicans comb their hair, too? They just don't do it on camera, maybe, but I hope they comb their hair.
FLEMING: And Sean, I've seen you primp -- trust me.
COULTER: Can I just say --
COLMES: All right, thank you --
FLEMING: I've seen you get ready for your Fox things, too. You primp also.
COLMES: Thank you both very much for hanging with us.
HANNITY: I take three minutes -- three and a half.