Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Hannity Scam: Name & Blame, Truth Be Damned

One of our least favorite conservative talkers, Sean Hannity, has a way with words. He's persuasive, smooth, and appealing. But Hannity's grasp on the truth is an entirely different matter.

Here's a recent example of Hannity's penchant for playing fast and loose with the facts. Speaking to Sen. John McCain on Fox News this week, Hannity repeated the charge that CNN reporter Michael Ware heckled McCain at a Baghdad news conference earlier this month. McCain told Hannity that someone was laughing during the session, though did not name Ware as that someone.

Why not name Ware? Because McCain doesn't know that Ware heckled him, nor does Hannity—despite his statement singling out Ware as the "liberal media" offender. But as the Media Matters website has noted, the Ware accusation originated with blogger Matt Drudge, who cited only one anonymous source for the story.

Ware, meanwhile, hotly denies the accusation. Ware told CNN's American Morning, "I did not heckle the senator. Indeed, I didn't say a word, I didn't even ask a question." A videotape of the news conference posted on The Raw Story website appears to support Ware's position. He asked no questions and there were no interruptions to the session.

But Hannity and other conservative commentators haven't let the facts get in their way. The conservative RedState website repeated the charges against Ware, again without evidence. Nevertheless, the RedState post concluded predictably, blaming the "liberal media":

Ware's childish antics notwithstanding, a case can be made that the media should stop being taken so seriously, and that Ware is a poster child for the childishness they exhibit in telling us what they want us to hear, rather than what they actually saw.

Here's how Hannity trumped up Ware's supposed heckling while talking to McCain:

[T]his guy's supposed to be a journalist for, you know, for a credible news network. It's a disgrace, and why he wasn't fired, I don't know.

We know why: It's a bogus charge. As Media Matters noted, "At no point during the interview did McCain state that Ware had either laughed during the press conference or heckled him."

Memo to Hannity, Drudge and friends: Facts can be stubborn things. And whatever your politics, you can' t just make them up.

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