Sean Hannity deliberately ‘mishears’ Obama on health insurance executives to win the Media Putz
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on September 17, 2009
Sean Hannity must be a fan of those word puzzles on your refrigerator, where you can put together random phrases. After all, you can take the same words, rearrange them, and make something new out of them.
Unfortunately, for the rest of us, Hannity was playing this game on television, taking words said by Barack Obama during the joint session of Congress health care speech, and rearranging them to fit his twisted internal view.
What Obama said:
“Insurance executives don’t treat their customers badly because they’re bad people; they do it because it’s profitable.”
What Hannity said:
“(Obama) said tonight that insurance company executives are bad people!”
We do have the words insurance executives bad people in both sentences. If we separate out the contraction, both men said are.
By Hannity’s logic, if Obama said the words insurance executives are bad people in a sentence, the other words don’t really matter.
Perhaps Hannity had a limited capacity to absorb Obama’s words, so what Hannity heard was “Insurance executives BLAH BLAH BLAH bad people; BLAH BLAH profitable.”
The timing couldn’t have been more awkward for Fox, the network. After all, a rare presidential speech before a joint session of Congress was broadcast on every major network and cable news channel, except, uh, Fox. Those watching Fox saw an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Really.
In a climate where people still struggle to watch TV over the air after the digital transition, there are poor souls who live in places where the local Fox affiliate might be the strongest signal. Perish the thought. And they were deprived of seeing for themselves whether Sean Hannity was telling the truth or was full of crap.
The funny part, and this is a little funny, is that those who would not normally watch Hannity’s show would have wished someone in power would have said, “Insurance company executives are bad people.”
The sad part is that the people who do watch Hannity likely are the ones who really need health insurance reform.
That Sean Hannity would be behind a deliberate attempt to take Barack Obama’s words out of context is not shocking. In fact, Hannity has literally won the Media Putz earlier in 2009 for doing the same exact thing.
This time is different because Hannity had the guts to play the actual clip, playing Obama’s words in context. The words spoken by Obama completely reduced Hannity’s argument to less than a pile of dust. Yet, Hannity continued on with his lie-ridden fixation with fellow Media Putz winner Frank Luntz, who also weighed in on the matter.
“I think that he’s trying to demonize a segment of American society, and through the work that I’ve done, he may be successful, Sean. Because the American people don’t think too highly of insurance companies or the people who run it.”
But don’t think Hannity was done. After Luntz’s answer, Hannity brings back his false claim about Obama attacking the insurance companies.
“If he is going to go after the insurance companies, and this is part of a political strategy, my question is this. Are we allowed to analyze the ineffectiveness of government, the bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare and the Post Office and the FDIC and Fannie and Freddie? Is that part of the debate too?”
So even though Hannity played the quote that made it quite clear that Obama wasn’t going after the insurance companies, that Obama went far out of his way to not offend the precious insurance company executives whose gold-plated lives have to be polished and kept pristine, Hannity pitches this idea that Obama is “going after” insurance companies.
To blatantly lie in the face of truth is a character trait we would assign to a 7-year-old who doesn’t want to be punished, and we can relate to the 7-year-old. Adults, especially those in responsible broadcasting positions, are supposed to have outgrown this tendency.
“When (Obama) said tonight that insurance executives are bad people. It took me aback because it was so harsh and, I think, unfair.”
No, harsh and unfair describe your on-air persona, and your mean-spirited, deceptive, hypocritical style of broadcasting. And ironically, we aren’t being harsh and unfair in describing you that way. We’re actually being something you can’t possibly claim to be — understated.
For — once again — actively distorting President Barack Obama’s words, we happily give Sean Hannity the Media Putz award.