Friday, February 15, 2008

I love you Sean Hannity

Last week I wrote about three media personalities and explained how their credentials didn’t necessarily qualify them to give opinions. The three people I wrote about were Jon Stewart, Dear Abby (Abigail Van Buren) and Sean Hannity.

Of course I did not expect a response from any of them. Though, it would have been cool to hear from Stewart, and I imagine Dear Abby would have been kind of interesting. But, I did have the dubious honor of hearing from Hannity.

When I got into the office last Monday, I had an e-mail waiting on me titled “From Sean Hannity.” The writer of the e-mail claimed to the real Sean Hannity. He asked me where I got my information from and said that he did not drop out of college due to poor grades, but due to financial difficulties.

The idea that Hannity would contact me about something I wrote in our relatively small paper seemed unlikely. Him complaining about a small pebble like me seemed kind of like Chewbacca complaining about having a long nose hair. So, I replied to the e-mail (I should have titled my response “From Eric Hudson,” but that seemed a little pretentious to me). I told the writer I would love to speak on the phone; thinking it was a prankster out on a hoax.

He wrote back to get my phone number and shortly after I received a phone call. On the other end of the phone, I heard, “Hi, this is Sean Hannity.” It took me
a moment, but the voice sounded just like the one that had polluted the speakers inside my Jeep just days before.

In typical Hannity fashion, he drilled me. I tried to ask him questions, but he didn’t seem to care. He had something to say, and he wasn’t going to let me speak
unless he felt like it.

The basis of his complaint was that he was in fact very good at school and was very qualified to do what he does. I admit that my source wasn’t as strong as it
should be, and I apologize for that. But to tell the truth, I am not sure that he actually understood the point of the column or that he even read it. See, he asked who my boss was and what my phone number was. I told him that the answers to both questions were already printed in the column.

After our mostly one-way conversation, he demanded a correction and an apology. Later he sent me an e-mail inviting me to come on his show and talk about how I was going to be the next Dan Rather. I took the back-handed comment for what it was and didn’t write back. At no point in our conversations did he call me
a great American.

But truth be told, if I would have known Hannity cared about what I said in my column, I would have mentioned his name a lot earlier. I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning that he did not finish college. What kind of schooling he has is the least of my problems with Hannity.

The few lines that I dedicated to him in my past column were mostly in jest. If I had a real problem with him, I would have mentioned that I think his shows are extremely narrow-minded and damaging to democracy. I would have told readers to check out an article titled “The Document Sean Hannity Doesn’t Want
You To Read,” published by (it is real easy to find, just do a Google search on the title).

That article is great because it shows 15 specific times when Hannity has distorted the truth on topics ranging from weapons of mass destruction to public housing. It details in one instance where Colin Powell returned from Iraq. Hannity said, “Colin Powell just had a great piece that he had in the paper today. He
was there [in Iraq]. He said things couldn’t have been better.” The article gives a quote from Powell which was said on the same day as Hannity’s comments. Powell said, “Iraq has come very far, but serious problems remain, starting with security.”

It might just be me, but these comments seem to contradict each other. After reading these 15 well documented instances, and hearing the show several times myself, it makes me wonder what other kind of misinformation Hannity distributes.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect what Hannity does. Well, maybe respect isn’t the right word, but I think he believes what he says and it has gotten him a huge following. He has a radio show and a TV show to use as a forum to say what he wants. To think that my forum, a weekly column, could draw the attention of this
national figure means that I am either doing something incredibly right or tremendously wrong.

Every week I get comments from local readers that say they really enjoy what my columns share with them. Since those are the people I am trying to please the
most, I have a feeling that I am on the right track. If it angers Sean Hannity, then maybe he will understand how many people feel when they are subjected to his shows.

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