When Bob Grant was fired from New York Radio Station 77 WABC, they needed someone to fill his time slot. Along comes Sean Hannity, who at the time was doing his shtick in Atlanta. If you thought firing Bob Grant was WABC's way of saying racism will not be tolerated anymore at the station, you have not been listening to Hannity.
Over the past half-decade, Sean Hannity has become one of the biggest neo-con mouthpieces on radio and television, and the most divisive. The hatred that he spews regularly on his Faux News Channel program with Alan Colmes, as well as on his syndicated radio show is compounded by the fact that he makes questionable associations with people on the far right, including white supremacists. There is a reason why there was once a special section on the OPP website dedicated to him, but we thought it was a good idea to spell out why for you in more detail.
The youngest of four children (he is the only boy), Hannity was born December 30, 1961 in New York City to a father who was a probation officer and a mother who was a homemaker. Growing up in Franklin Square, Long Island, NY, he used to listen to talk radio a lot and he said in his book Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty Over Liberalism (2002), that one of his heroes in those the man he eventually succeed, Bob "I don't have any problem with the National Alliance" Grant. "I'd grown up listening to Bob Grant...one of the most entertaining hosts I'd ever heard," he wrote. Ironically, since Hannity took over Grant's slot on WABC, Grant periodically slams Hannity. After graduating, he went to New York University but eventually dropped out. Here's where some fun begins. According to one bio on the internet, he did well until he got a teacher who said on the first day, "I am a communist." Sean got A's in the class but after he started to challenge him, his grades went from A's to C's, the lowest grades he ever got in college. This was given as his reasons for dropping out, but he has also claimed several times on his radio show to have had financial difficulties that actually contributed to that. He moved to Rhode Island where he took a job in a union at the Blount Shipbuilder Co. where he until he got hurt and the foreman refused to pay him any longer.
Hannity's first radio gig was in 1987 at KCSB-FM, the volunteer college station at UC Santa Barbara in California. At the time he also worked construction and as a contractor and in what makes for a future hypocrisy, in some cases hired undocumented workers, the same ones he will eventually roll with the Minuteklan Project to hassle. He lasted 10 months at the station before he was canned. Again, he blamed the left for his departure, saying that the management there did not approve of the comments one of his callers made. The left-wing management had a zero-tolerance policy for conservative points of view. And I was promptly fired," he wrote. At this time, he was also placing ads in radio publications presenting himself as "the most talked about college radio host in America." Nevertheless, it landed him his first paying gig at WVNN in Huntsville, Alabama who hired him to be the morning talk show host. From there, he was hired by WGST in Atlanta to fill the slot vacated by Neal Boortz, who had moved on to competing station WSB. At WGST his hatemongering was on full display, whether it was calling for people to wear blue ribbons at one year's Oscar ceremonies in support of the officers who beat Rodney King, or inviting guests on his program to bash gays (even his official bio on WGST's website at the time said he was "Making a proud name for himself by insulting lesbians"). This generated a lot of anger against him in the city. In 1996, the year that Atlanta had the Olympics, and just before Hannity split for New York, The Rev. Jesse Williams and members of a group called Dignity held protests outside Olympic headquarters at the Inforum for several months after Olympic officials named WGST as the "official information source" for the Games. Williams questioned the association with the radio station because of how Sean Hannity and another host Kim Peterson have been spreading hate over the airwaves. Hannity did get into a little trouble here though. This was the year the Olympic Village was bombed by Eric Rudolph. At the time it was being reported that Richard Jewell, a security guard there who was being touted for his heroism during the bombing, was being touted as a hero. In 2003, Hannity interviewed Jewell on his television program about being falsely accused, ending it by saying, "turns out he was a hero, and the media got it wrong." Well, Hannity was a part of that media that got it wrong! He said point blank on his radio show at the time, "there is a lot of speculation that a 33-year-old man who is unmarried, who lives with his mother, has got to be a weirdo, has got to be a potential terrorist."
Now by this time, Hannity was about to go back to his hometown. In addition to joining WABC in 1996, he also had been tapped by Faux News Channel President and former Republican propagandist Roger Ailes for another gig at the Faux News Channel. In fact, this is what brought him back to NYC. The radio show was another part of the deal. The Faux News Channel gig was to co-host a rip-off of CNN's Crossfire then titled Hannity and ___________, or Hannity and Liberal to be Determined. According to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the right-wing news channel did not have a liberal in mind to spar with Hannity when they hired him until they managed to pull out of their ass one that also displays right-wing tendencies, Giuliani supporter Alan Colmes. As co-host of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity uses the program much like he uses his radio show, to promote conservative agendas and causes. The Faux News Channel is all too willing to accommodate him. At one time a camera used to come to 77 WABC while he is on the air. Colmes did not get this treatment for any of his radio programs, despite being a New York radio vet. That is probably a good thing for us, to be honest. In addition to his occasional lean to the right, Colmes is a weak - some (like us) would say spineless - counterpart to Hannity on the TV show who when "defending the liberal position" in the debates seen on the show, often begins with a disclaimer from him that usually goes along the lines that he does not support the particular argument that he is supposed to be defending. In other words, Hannity basically has an open forum where his bullshit goes unopposed.
Hannity is nothing more than a shallow propagandist, but one whose hatemongering is tolerated more than his predecessor on WABC because it is in the guise of Republicans vs. Democrats. Very seldom does he offer a responsible opinion. Instead he angrily yells his spin on a particular issue, which can often be refuted by anyone who can crack open a book and get the facts for themselves. One particular spin that comes to mind is his routine on how Howard Dean "advanced the theory" that President Bosh knew about 9-11 before it happened. First off, for advancing a theory to be a problem for Hannity says a lot about him, who has advanced more than his share of theories himself - the bulk of them bogus. There is a reason why he notes what Howard Dean did this way. This stems from a NPR radio program called the Diane Rehm Show that Dean appeared on back on December 1, 2003. Rehm asked Dean why he thought Bush wasn't more forthcoming with the commission investigating the terrorist attacks. "The most interesting theory that I've heard so far -- which is nothing more than a theory, it can't be proved -- is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis," Dean replied. When asked if he believed the theory was true, "No, I don't believe that. I can't imagine the president of the United States doing that." Of course this didn't matter to Hannity who almost immediately started to accuse Dean of saying that the President knew about 9-11 beforehand. Media Matters for America even noted ten instances where he said this outright from December, 2003 to May 2004. He has even played the audio from the Rehm program on numerous occasions, but it is a doctored version that leaves out the part where Dean dismisses the notion. On July 27, 2004, during the Democratic Convention, Hannity was on Al Franken's Air America radio program, where he called Hannity out on this distortion. After playing the audio from the May 11, broadcast of Hannity and Colmes where Hannity repeated the accusation Hannity conceded the point, but not without noting that "99 percent of the time," he qualifies the assertion by saying Dean "advanced the theory." Hannity still likes to use this to attack Dean and other Democrats, regardless of how full of shit he is on this.
This is typical of Hannity. With him it is all about what he says and how, but it still gives him complications. He asserts for example that the left is hypocritical in the area of choice. The reason is many leftists while supporting reproductive choice for women will not support school vouchers, thereby in Hannity's mind not supporting the parents' choice in what school they want to send their child to. He terms it as being the same thing, but would that not make the "pro-life" Hannity a hypocrite in his quest to deny reproductive rights to women? His normal routines have included playing dumb or tell half-truths about certain subjects. When Abner Louima was attacked by four New York Police Officers in a Precinct bathroom, he campaigned against Louima and for the cops. During the trial, he even had the father of Justin Volpe on each day to talk about how his son is holding up and how he feels about him being railroaded. When Volpe pled guilty, Hannity immediately began to campaign on the premise that Charles Schwartz, another officer involved was being railroaded. In 2005, a glaring example of this when he accused anti-war leftists for protesting the funeral of Sgt. Jeremy Doyle, a soldier killed in Iraq. The following is a transcript from his August 30, 2005 radio program:
HANNITY: Let me read to you from Indianapolis. Headline: "Funeral for fallen Hoosier soldier brought some unwanted guests." Let me read this. Now, put this in the context of the story we did for you last week about Code Pink and about how Code Pink was protesting in front of Walter Reed Medical Center. Remember, they had their "Maimed for Lies" signs and "Enlist Here and Die for Halliburton" signs? And this is where these soldiers come back to try and get their lives together after receiving these awful, often life-threatening wounds. And yet, these people with political agendas are outside Walter Reed Medical Center protesting. And my point to them was, "Hey, look, if you want to protest, let's leave the injured soldiers alone, they need time to recuperate. Take it to the White House. Take it to some other area."
So anyway, the story in Indianapolis goes like this, quote: "Emotions ran high for an Army soldier's funeral in Martinsville on Sunday. Sgt. Jeremy Doyle's sacrifice brought many out to honor him, but also sparked a standoff on a city street. People arriving to say goodbye to a hometown hero met an altogether different scene in Martinsville, as demonstrators dragging American flags on the ground and holding signs opposing U.S. troops. 'The thing that got us here is that Sergeant Doyle died for us to give us our freedom, and then you have people like this come. It's absurd,' one funeral attendee told News 8 in Indianapolis. Tensions grew before demonstrations [sic: demonstrators] finally left their location right across the street from Army Sgt. Jeremy Doyle's funeral service. According to the group's website, it sees America's -- Americans' deaths in Iraq as a kind of punishment for social misdeeds. Martinsville residents said that the protesters picked the wrong time in the wrong town to express their views. Which rightfully -- so they have their freedom of expression. Nobody's going to take that away from them, but there is a time and a place for this kind of thing, and it's certainly not here today."
Now, who's Jeremy Doyle? Well, he died along with three other soldiers on August the 18th, when their Humvee hit a landmine on an Iraqi highway. This guy died for all of us. His final journey was a procession down Main Street, past the courthouse square. "'If I had to lose a son, if I had to lose one, I'd -- I'd rather it be serving our country,' his father explained. The protesters were headquartered in Kansas. They traveled across the country to demonstrate against a soldier." And you know something? I guess this is just another example of how the anti-war left supports our brave troops. 'Cause isn't that what they always say? They're disrupting the funeral, tormenting a grieving family. Can you believe I even have to bring this story to the airwaves? And creating an incredible spectacle in the middle of an occasion to honor a guy who died serving his country? But of course, they're supporting our troops. They're not supporting them; they're targeting our troops!
What's the difference between this or protesting outside the entrance to Walter Reed, where our wounded soldiers go to recover? I mean, these sol -- just can't believe that our soldiers and our -- and their families have to endure this pathetic atta -- these pathetic attacks, these chants, these posters as they enter and leave a hospital.
Hannity got this account from the WISH-TV website in Indianapolis and we provide the link to that account here so you can see exactly what it said. Hannity deliberately omitted one important passage - the part where it says the website of the group that picketed was that of Fred Phelps's Westboro Baptist Church of godhatesfags.com infamy. The anti-gay protestors believe that military deaths are deserved because the government allows gays to serve in the military. They are known for picketing funerals, often those of homosexuals or those who support the gay community. Among those they picketed was the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay man beaten to death in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. Hannity chose not only to omit this (he did at least say they were from Kansas), but also to blame the "anti-war left" for the protest. Remember that this is a guy whose last radio gig hyped him up as someone who was making a proud name for himself by insulting lesbians.
Recently Hannity's thing has been to attempt to mount campaigns against anyone that speaks ill of conservatives. It served a purpose of stifling dissent after 9-11 and during the beginning of the Gulf War, but now it just sounds whiny to a lot of the public. It also puts Hannity in yet another hypocritical position. How can Hannity complain about how shrill and mean-spirited Democrats and the left have become when he keeps promoting Ann Coulter? When she was canned by a Arizona newspaper for her own shrillness, she came onto Hannity's radio program we guess to show the world what they were talking about. On the show Hannity read the portion in the editorial where it read, "many readers find her shrill, bombastic, and mean-spirited." Of course, being Hannity, you know he had to leave out something. The next sentence read, "And those are the words used by readers who identified themselves as conservatives." Hannity and Coulter both went on to slam the paper and their new editorial page editor, who Coulter said was "taking interviews to start being the program director at MSNBC" which has also had excellent success in keeping conservatives out. Coulter was more making reference to another place that canned her, doing so in 1997 after she, working as their legal analyst, told a Vietnam vet it was people like him that caused them to lose that war. Hannity and Coulter did seem to care about the fact that Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson, didn't seem to have any problems finding a home at MSNBC, while Phil Donahue's show was canned for fear he might say controversial things about the Iraq War. They also didn't seem to care that Former Bosh I speechwriter and conservative columnist Tony Snow had replaced Coulter.
That brings us to something else about Hannity that is even more pathetic: The constant pandering to those far right scumbags that could care less about human or civil rights. In 2005, we saw him bring anti-abortion demagogue Randall Terry out of the mothballs during the Terri Schiavo case to defend the right-wing stunts surrounding that sad case. Then we saw weeks later him promoting the anti-immigration vigilante group the Minuteman Project, which he tried to protect from charges that they were a racist organization, even while evidence to the contrary kept surfacing, such as co-founder Jim Gilchrist joining a hate group that he had been working with even prior to the Minueklan Project. Interestingly enough, both Gilchrist and co-founder Chris Simcox appeared on Hannity and Colmes regularly during April of 2005, but by August, when Hannity did a series of shows about the Minuteklan Project in Texas (where one leader resigned because of one local chapter's racism), Simcox was there, but Gilchrist was not.
But Hannity has an even larger albatross than that. In 1998, "Hal from North Bergen" became one of his regular callers. The two sparked up a friendship on and off the air, and in two years, Hal would run for congress with Hannity saying he will promote his candidacy on the air. Hal and his son were even invited to the set of Hannity and Colmes to watch a taping. "Hal from North Bergen" was actually white supremacist Hal Turner who on his website and internet radio show is known primarily for calling for the killing of people he disagreed with. He gained some notoriety when family members of Federal Judge Joan Lefkow was found murdered, and he published on his website a picture of the judge with the word "GOTCHA" over her head. Lefkow presided over the trademark infringement case involving an associate of Turner's, World Church of the Creator leader Matt Hale. Hale would eventually lose that case and the name of his organization, but will also end up in prison for the next 40 years after being convicted of conspiring to kill Judge Lefkow. It was believed that white supremacists were responsible for the attack on her family, but that was found not to be the case a few weeks after Turner published the photo - and ended up on a number of television programs because of it.
Turner was the one who revealed the friendship with Hannity. He has said numerous times on his website, his internet radio show, and even to us directly that he and Hannity were tight, but in 2000, as Hannity's star began to shine - which happened before Turner, who was a pretty well-known hatemonger at the time, but not a member of any organized group yet - he cut his ties with him and stopped taking his calls. This is something that has been talked about for years, but Hannity, who is known for calling out people who criticize him, has never talked about this issue, even though it was the topic of an article in the web edition of the Nation Magazine.
Hannity has gotten some lumps in the past though. In 2000, Hannity was the subject of a website that future members of One People's Project created calling him out on his racism and other forms of hate. Hannity at the time was also being sued by a man critical of him and in turn was unjustly arrested for it. These days, the best way to shoot down Hannity is to get the facts from the numerous websites that come right behind him and shoot down whatever it is he said on either radio or television. However, this is a man who we know is damn afraid of people going beyond this approach, actually looking into his background dealings with the fringe right and coming out with things he will be made to answer.
Hannity continues to play the role of right-wing apologist and hatemonger, but with so many websites geared towards showing how stupid he is, he really doesn't have any real credibility except among his conservative base. Unfortunately too often there are people who are hurt by his propaganda routines, which is why more and more people are taking more shots at him.