Sean Hannity has repeatedly fabricated a quote from Joe Biden over the past two weeks, inserting one or more words into the Democratic presumptive nominee’s comment to falsely suggest he described police as “the enemy.”
Biden has called for ending a federal program that helps provide surplus military equipment to police forces, saying during a July 8 interview that when police officers use such weapons, “they become the enemy” in the eyes of their communities. President Donald Trump’s campaign and his media allies quickly seized upon and distorted those remarks. They falsely claimed Biden was describing his own view of the police and calling them “the enemy,” rather than discussing the perceptions of the people being policed. In one particularly egregious case, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs actually altered Biden’s quote to match that fraudulent reading, claiming that Biden said, “they have become the enemy” (emphasis added).
Fox News prime-time star Sean Hannity did the same thing while interviewing Trump on Thursday, falsely claiming that Biden “did say the police have now become the enemy” (emphasis added), as my colleague John Whitehouse noted. But that wasn’t the first, or the second, or even the 10th time Hannity has altered that Biden quote. By my count, Hannity has added one or more words to Biden’s “they become the enemy” remark at least 17 times, sometimes altering his quote as many as three times in a single broadcast.
Here’s the list (the words Hannity inserted into the quote are in bold):
July 8: “And today, during an interview with the far left website NowThis News, Joe Biden even stated the police -- you ready for this? -- have become the enemy.”
July 8: “Listen, Don [Trump Jr.], he's saying the police have become the enemy, absolutely.”
July 9: “Mr. President, I'm going to read the comments of Joe Biden, if I may: … ‘It's like a military invading. They don't know anybody. They've become the enemy.’"
July 14: “He's the guy that said last week, police have now become the enemy.”
July 14: “I put this out there as well, defund the police. The police have become the enemy.”
July 15: “He's also now, by the way, willing to redirect funds away from the police, that have, of course, become the enemy.”
July 15: “It's every day, it's every night, the defund effort, Joe Biden calling the police, what, they've now become the enemy.”
July 15: “He's trying to back off it today, but he said what he said. They've now become the enemy.”
July 16: “I think this presidential campaign has changed. Now, Biden has -- he's gone with, oh, the police have become the enemy.”
July 20: “Biden, whether he likes to admit it or not, he used the words police have now become the enemy of the people they are supposed to protect.”
July 20: “The Bernie people don't love him, so he's had to take on Bernie's economic plan, wholeheartedly agreeing that yeah, oh, yeah, no, the police have now become the enemy.”
July 20: “Now the police have become the enemy when they are supposed to protect the people.”
July 21: “And also -- Dan -- we have Biden saying, well, the police have now become the enemy.”
July 21: “Yet, we have even a presidential candidate talking about -- well, the police have now become the enemy.”
July 22: “Now, we have also heard him say that police have become the enemy.”
July 23: “By the way, come November, well, you will let them take the reins of the entire country because only you have the power to stop it at the ballot box because Joe Biden is a guy that said, yeah, the police have now become the enemy.”
July 23: I don't know if he's just not remembering what maybe somebody else wrote in ‘USA Today,’ for example, but he did say police have now become the enemy, when they're supposed to help people.”
It’s commonplace for Fox hosts to generate red meat for their audience by using deceptive edits and outright lies to mangle the meaning of comments Biden and other progressives make. Indeed, even if Hannity had been accurately quoting Biden but taking him out of context in the same way, he would still be distorting the former vice president’s views and misleading his audience. But repeatedly altering a quote is particularly dishonest, even by the network’s low standards.
When I pointed out that Dobbs had fabricated Biden’s quote, The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel commented, “You do that as a cub reporter and you’re cleaning out your desk by end of day.” But Hannity can do it over and over again without fear of punishment from his bosses, because there are no rules at Fox that apply to him.