Hannity's America, A Nation Of Right-Wing Smears

In a special edition of his Fox News show titled, Hannity's America: The Dirtiest Campaign Ever, that purportedly examined President Obama's reelection campaign, Sean Hannity reprised a succession of right-wing media smears against Obama, his administration, and progressives that ranged from tying them to the New Black Panthers to accusing them of class warfare.

Hannity's Fox News Special: “The Dirtiest Campaign Ever”

Fox Special, Hannity's America, Purportedly Exposed “Obama's Campaign Of Division And Class Warfare.”  On September 23, Fox News aired Hannity's America: The Dirtiest Campaign Ever, a Fox special that promised to expose “Obama's campaign of division and class warfare, and reveals the extreme bias of the mainstream media.” [Fox News Insider, 9/21/12]

Hannity's America Stoked Fears Of Fox's New Black Panthers Bogeyman


Hannity's America Included New Black Panther Party In Examples Of Democrats' Purported “Racial Rhetoric.”   Hannity claimed the nation had “never seen racial rhetoric used to the extent that we have seen in recent years” and purported to showcase examples of such rhetoric by playing remarks by Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, followed by comments from a New Black Panther Party (NBPP) spokeswoman. [Fox News, Hannity9/23/12]


SPLC: The NBPP Is A “Hate Group Based On The Anti-White, Anti-Gay And Anti-Semitic Views” Expressed By Its Leaders. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights group dedicated to fighting hate, has designated the New Black Panther Party a “hate group” :  

The New Black Panther Party (NBPP) -- which despite its name has no connection with the original Black Panther Party -- is a black separatist organization. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies the NBPP as a hate group based on the anti-white, anti-gay and anti-Semitic views its leaders have repeatedly expressed. [Southern Poverty Law Center, 2009]

Original Black Panther Party Has Decried NBPP As “A Black Racist Hate Group” And A “Hateful And Unconstructive Group.”  According to the SPLC, members of the original Black Panther Party “have heavily criticized” the NBPP, decrying it as “a black racist hate group” and a “hateful and unconstructive group” :

Members of the original Black Panther Party, which has no connection to the NBPP, have heavily criticized the New Black Panther Party. An open letter from the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, which is run by members of the original Black Panther Party, decries the NBPP for being a hateful and unconstructive group. Bobby Seale, a famous founding member of the original Panthers, calls the organization “a black racist hate group.”  [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 9/24/12]


Fox, Hannity Have Repeatedly Tried To Link New Black Panthers To Obama, Democrats. Fox News, including Hannity, have relentlessly tried to link the New Black Panthers to the Democrats:

  • Right-wing media accused the Obama administration of racially motivated decision-making in a civil case against the NBPP, with Fox devoting more than 95 segments and 8 hours to covering the manufactured scandal in a period of less than three weeks. [Media Matters9/10/12]
  • Fox News has hosted the NBPP more than 50 times since 1998, providing a fringe hate group a national media platform. [Media Matters7/14/10]
  • Hannity promised to “show a tape” of Obama “hanging out” with member of NBPP. On the October 3, 2011 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity promised to “show a tape” of Obama “hanging out during the campaign” with a member of the NBPP. [Fox News, Hannity10/3/11]
  • Hannity falsely claimed “there's a picture” of Obama with the new Black Panthers. During a segment of his Fox News show devoted to attacking the Obama administration for its handling of the Trayvon Martin case, Hannity played clips of racist statements about the case that aired on New Black Panther Radio and falsely claimed “there's a picture” of Obama with the group in 2007. [Fox News, Hannity4/9/12, via Media Matters]
  • Fox Business host Lou Dobbs suggested NBPP is Obama's “Base.”  On the May 22 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs suggested that the NBPP was Obama's “base.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight5/22/12, via Media Matters]

Hannity's America Adopted Fox Myth That Obama Has Engaged In Class Warfare


Hannity: “Class Warfare Is Now The President's Go-To Campaign Strategy”  To Distract From The Economy. During his special, Hannity accused Obama of practicing “class warfare” in order to distract voters from the economy, claiming Obama is fostering an “us against them” and “haves versus the have-nots” mentality.

HANNITY: Now in this election, the message of unity is gone, and class warfare is now the president's go-to campaign strategy.


HANNITY: In order to distract from his dismal job numbers and a terrible economy, the president has turned his reelection into us against them, the haves versus the have-nots. [Fox News, Hannity's America, 9/23/12]


Hannity Responded To Facts About Mitt Romney's Tax Plan: “Class Warfare, Class Warfare.” On the August 11 edition of Hannity, Fox host Bob Beckel said Obama “wants to raise taxes on a small percentage of the American people, just like Bill Clinton did, and we had eight years of the best economic expansion in history after we raised taxes on rich people,” adding: “This tax thing that Romney is talking about benefits overwhelmingly rich people and it hurts the middle class.” Hannity responded to these facts by saying, “Class warfare, class warfare.” [Fox News, Hannity8/11/12, via Media Matters]

Hannity: Obama's Press Conference Continued “His Favorite Theme, Which Is Class Warfare.” On the July 11, 2011 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity said that Obama held a press conference that continued “his favorite theme, which is class warfare.” [Fox News, Hannity7/11/11, via Media Matters]

Hannity: “Tonight, Instead Of Embracing An Opportunity To Bring America Together, [Obama] Elected To Invoke Class Warfare.”  On the January 24 edition of his Fox News show, which aired immediately after the State of the Union address, Hannity said, “Tonight instead of embracing an opportunity to bring America together the president elected to invoke class warfare and further split an already deeply divided nation by focusing on partisan issues rather than pressing ones.” [Fox News, Hannity1/24/12, via Media Matters]

Hannity: “Sticking With Tradition, President Obama Resorted To Using Some Good Ole-Fashioned Class-Warfare Rhetoric.”  Hannity introduced a segment by claiming that “President Obama resorted to using some good ole-fashioned class-warfare rhetoric” in a recent speech. Later on the show, Fox Business host Stuart Varney stated, “I'm listening to [Obama's speech] very carefully, and it reminds me of a British socialist, frankly, from the 1940s, 1950s.” [Fox News, Hannity12/6/11, via Media Matters]

Hannity: Obama “Could Not Help But Resort To Using The Same Kind Of Class Warfare.”  During the September 12, 2011 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity said: “And, as usual, the president could not help but resort to using the same kind of class warfare and false choices that we've gotten used to over the past two-and-a-half years.” [Fox News, Hannity9/12/11, via Media Matters]


Fox Also Routinely Labels Obama Initiatives “Class Warfare.” Fox has labeled many of Obama's policy initiatives to be “class warfare” :

  • Obama's Push For The Buffett Rule Is “Class Warfare.”  Fox responded with outrage after Obama renewed his case for the Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum effective tax rate for millionaires, accusing Obama of waging “class warfare.” [Media Matters4/13/12]
  • Obama's Debt-Reduction Plan: “Class Warfare.”  In response to Obama's deficit-reduction plan, which called for increasing taxes on the wealthy, Fox responded by accusing Obama of engaging in “class warfare.” [Media Matters9/19/11]
  • Obama's Jobs Bill: “Class Warfare.”  Following Obama's September 2011 speech outlining his jobs plan, Fox figures accused him of engaging “class warfare” and “soak[ing] the rich.” [Media Matters,9/13/11]
  • Obama's Plan To Eliminate Tax Breaks On Corporate Jets: “Class Warfare.”  In June 2011, Fox figures, including Lou Dobbs and Eric Bolling, responded to Obama's call to eliminate tax breaks on corporate jets by accusing Obama of “class warfare.” [Media Matters6/30/11]

 For more on Fox's “class warfare” rhetoric, click here

Hannity's America Ignored Fox's Own History Of Inflammatory Rhetoric


Michelle Malkin Claimed Obama Operatives Use “Inflammatory Rhetoric” Against “Well-Meaning And Good-Faithed Political Opponents.”  The Hannity's America special included a clip of Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin decrying what she called the “inflammatory rhetoric” of Obama operatives, which she said they use against their “well-meaning and good-faithed political opponents.” Hannity and Malkin however ignore Fox's history of inflammatory rhetoric.

MALKIN: When Obama asks are we better off than we were four years ago, we certainly are not. I think if you look at the inflammatory rhetoric that Obama's operatives have used against their well-meaning and good-faithed political opponents, things have gotten way worse. [Fox News, Hannity's America, 9/23/12]


Fox Personalities Have A Long History Of Inflammatory Rhetoric. Fox News' hosts and contributors have often resorted to inflammatory rhetoric in order to attack president Obama and Democrats:

  • Malkin Accused Michelle Obama Of Being The “Bitter Half Of The Obama Administration.”  On Fox News' Hannity, Malkin said that Michelle Obama has “earned” the designation as “the bitter half of the Obama administration.” [Fox News, Hannity5/30/12]
  • Malkin Called Obama The “Thug In Chief.”  On the July 21, 2010 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Malkin called Obama the “thug in chief” and accused the administration of having the “boots on the necks of American small business owners.” [Fox News, Hannity7/21/10]
  • Fox's Bolling Compared Obama To A Drug Dealer Who Opens “Barry's Pot And Coke Emporium.” On February 7, 2012, during a discussion of Obama's position on super PACs, Bolling compared Obama to a drug dealer, saying: “What if a guy spends the better part of two years saying he's against drugs, he hates drugs, drugs kill kids, drugs are bad for you. And then the next day he says you know what, I'm opening up Barry's pot and coke emporium.” [Fox News, The Five, 2/7/12 via Media Matters
  • Fox's O'Reilly Accused Liberals Who Supported Gun Control Of Being “Totalitarians” Like Hitler. On the March 2, 2010, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly attacked a New York Times editorial by comparing proponents of gun control to dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor3/2/10, via Media Matters]
  • Fox's Hannity On “Demoniz[ing]” Hillary Clinton: “That's My Job.”  On the August 25, 2008, edition of Fox News' Hannity, Hannity responded to Fox News contributor Juan Williams claim that he “demonized Hillary [Clinton]” by saying “That's my job. I led - I led the ” Stop Hillary Express." By the way, now it's the “Stop Obama Express.” [Media Matters8/26/08]

Hannity's America Whitewashed Vicious Right-Wing Attacks On Michelle Obama


Hannity: Michelle Obama Gets “The Royal Treatment” From The Press. Hannity complained that Mitt Romney's wife, Ann Romney, has received critical media coverage in the press, as opposed to Michelle Obama, who he said has gotten the “royal treatment” :

HANNITY: How is First Lady Michelle Obama treated by the press? Well she gets the royal treatment. And the media flat out ignores her pricey attire. She wore sneakers that cost over five-hundred bucks to a food bank event. A two-thousand dollar sundress during a Hawaii vacation. And to top it all off, a six-thousand dollar jacket to an event at Buckingham palace. So where's the outrage there? [Fox News, Hannity's America, 9/23/12]


Conservative Media Have Spent The Past Four Years Smearing, Attacking, And Hurling Insults At Michelle Obama. Conservative media attacks have included criticizing her appearance and her clothes, her efforts to fight childhood obesity; claiming she is unpatriotic; and launching sexist and racially charged attacks against her, among other things:

  • Hannity distorted a passage from Michelle Obama's 1985 Princeton senior thesis to claim she is unpatriotic.
  • Appearing on Fox Business Network, conservative author and radio host Jason Mattera called Michelle Obama a “dietary dominatrix.”
  • Discussing President Obama's limousine on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh stated that the limousine “weighs eight tons without Michelle in it.”
  • Appearing as a guest on CNN contributor Dana Loesch's radio show, commentator Tony Katz said if President Obama actually “liked women he'd buy Michelle Obama better clothes. Why doesn't she wear anything that fits?”
  • The right-wing media attacked Michelle Obama for wearing a red dress to a White House state dinner, suggesting she did so to honor “Commie Red China.” [Media Matters9/4/12]

Hannity's America Pushed Distorted View Of Medicare


Hannity: “Medicare Plan That Paul Ryan Has Presented Would Not Apply To People Over The Age Of 55.”  Hannity accused Democrats of “twisting and distorting” the facts on vice presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare plan, claiming that “the Medicare plan that Paul Ryan has presented would not apply to people over the age of 55” :

HANNITY: These desperate Democrats are twisting and distorting the facts in order to terrify seniors into believing that the Romney-Ryan White House would eliminate Medicare as we know it.


However, the Medicare plan that Paul Ryan has presented would not apply to people over the age of 55, meaning that Medicare would stay exactly as it is for today's seniors, a fact that liberals fail to mention. [Fox News, Hannity's America, 9/23/12]   


CBPP: Voucher Systems That Includes Medicare Option Could “Threaten Traditional Medicare's Long-Term Viability.”  In a report titled, “Converting Medicare to Premium Support Would Likely Lead to Two-Tier Health Care System,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) explained that “inadequate risk adjustment” could lead to healthier seniors abandoning traditional Medicare for private plans, leaving only the less healthy in the program, which could “drive up its costs and threaten traditional Medicare's long-term viability.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9/26/11]

CBPP: Ryan Budget Medicaid Block Grant “Would Cut Medicaid By One-Third By 2022.”  In a March 27 report, the CBPP explained that the block grants proposed in Ryan's budget would “cut federal Medicaid funding by 34 percent by 2022.” The CBPP report concluded:

[T]here can be no question that the block grant proposal would result in severe cuts in federal funding for state Medicaid programs. To compensate for funding cuts of this magnitude, states would have little choice but to institute deep cuts to eligibility, benefit coverage and/or provider payment rates. The almost inevitable result would be that millions more low-income individuals and families would end up uninsured or underinsured, with reduced access to needed medical care. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/27/12]

Jonathan Cohn: “Ryan Really Believes In Ending Medicare As We Know It.”  Journalist Jonathan Cohn wrote that Ryan's plan would end Medicare in its current form by eliminating the program's guarantee of comprehensive medical benefits while raising the eligibility age and producing vouchers that will quickly prove inadequate to allow seniors to purchase the care they need:

The essential promise of Medicare, ever since its establishment in 1965, is that every senior citizen is entitled to a comprehensive set of medical benefits that will protect him or her from financial ruin. The government provides these benefits directly, through a public insurance program, although seniors have the right to enroll in comparable private plans if they choose. But the key is that guarantee of benefits, and it's what Ryan would take away. He would replace it with a voucher, whose value would rise at a pre-determined formula unlikely to keep up with actual medical expenses.

Ryan's early proposals had no safeguards to make sure the voucher was adequate. His most recent one has safeguards, a more reasonable spending line, and preserves the government-run plan as an option. But the safeguards are weak, at best, and the government-run program would struggle to survive. Over time, more and more seniors would find the voucher too small to buy the insurance they need. [The New Republic8/11/12

For more analysis of Ryan's Medicare proposals, click here