His Campaign of Smear on America's "Most Watched" News Channel Continues...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2004, 12:23pm PT  

So I'm watching Hannity & Colmes tonight and Hannity says something a bit surprising as he's "interviewing" Newt Gingrich while attempting (successfully) to smear both Kennedy and Kerry in the same fell swoop.

As he looks down at his notes, so I'm assuming he had time to plan this out, Hannity says to Gingrich about a Ted Kennedy speech today at George Washington University on the failures of Bush's Iraq policy:

HANNITY: Hey actually Ted Kennedy in that speech today (refers to notes) "Those of us who would like to cut and run" --- he actually said that.

...and then he moved on to something else. Hit-and-Run Smear Accomplished.

But was it a smear? Would Fox's bright, shining star and Rush's heir apparent, Sean Hannity, simply out and out lie like that? And risk the same firing that he's called upon CBS to do to Dan Rather? I replayed my video tape, and that's exactly what he had said. But the outrageous charge about Kennedy seemed odd to say the least, so I did some checking on the speech today to find out for sure.

At Senator Ted Kennedy's site, the text of today's speech is linked on the front page, and it contains this passage:

No issue is more important today. The battle against terrorism is a battle we must win. Even those who opposed the war in Iraq understand that we cannot cut and run, that this is an American issue. But to remain silent in the face of mounting failures by this President and this White House is to weaken our security even further, and we cannot let that happen.

Seems pretty clear that Kennedy decidedly did not say what Hannity quoted him quite specifically as having said.

But this is the "Fair & Balanced" network! "America's News Channel of Political Record" as their ads say. Surely Hannity wouldn't make up such a quote and then claim that Kennedy --- and Kerry by extension, who's position Hannity equated with Kennedy's --- actually felt that way, would he?

Perhaps the text on Kennedy's site was the original text as planned, but he veered from the text as it was originally written. So I stopped by Hannity & Colmes site for more information. They didn't have a transcript of tonight's show yet, but they did have a link to what they called "Raw Data: Kennedy Speech on Iraq War" which has a paragraph similar to the one above, but curiously, it's missing the "cut and run" section entirely! Here's what they have:

No issue is more important today. The battle against terrorism is a battle we must win. To remain silent in the face of mounting failures by this president and this White House is to weaken our security even further.

Hmmm...did Fox have a different version of the speech? A transcript they took themselves perhaps during the actual presentation of the speech? Even so, there seemed nothing about "Those of us who would like to cut and run". There was nothing about either cutting or running in Fox News' transcript.

I kept looking, and finally found over at C-Span the video of the actual speech, as given by Ted Kennedy today.

Some of the text did veer slightly from the version on Kennedy's website. A word or two. But nothing like what either Hannity or the Fox News site described. Here's what Kennedy said verbatim (at 4:18 on the tape):

No issue is more important today. The battle against terrorism is a battle that we must win. Even those of us who opposed the Iraq war understand that we cannot cut and run, that this is an American committment. But to remain silent in the face of mounting failures by this President and this White House is to weaken our security even further, and we cannot let that happen.

Are these guys that desperate to win that they'd just make stuff up out of whole cloth? Apparently so. We've been covering here John McCaslin of The Washington Times, the newspaper equivalent of "Fair and Balanced" Fox, who has been doing exactly that. And so does Hannity. Almost every day.

Please remember that this is the man who has been calling for criminal investigations in the CBS document matter, along with the resignation of Dan Rather virtually every day he's been on the air --- on both his radio and TV shows --- since that story originally aired.

Lesson: Sean Hannity will say anything, do anything, smear anybody and lie about anything to keep his man in office. And the good news for him and the America he claims to love? He gets to do it five nights a week on the country's most watched News channel. Period.

As a side note, I also watched Kennedy's Q&A after his speech, just to make sure the phrase that Hannity made up wasn't said there or something. I didn't see it. But I did see Kennedy ironically mention, about the Bush Team and their continued campaign of lies, distortions and smears about Kerry: "You don't expect this to be done at the presidential level. To mis-represent and distort your opponents positions."

Rely on it Senator.

Mr. Hannity, correct the "mistake" and apologize to Sen. Kennedy on the air the way you've insisted that Rather apology to Bush. Set the example, Mr. Hannity.

Please hold him to it, Mr. Colmes.

Sean Hannity - hannity@foxnews.com