In a galling display of disregard for the public interest, Sean Hannity has been broadcasting provably false information on radio and TV about the Affordable Care Act. Salon’s “Inside the Fox News lie machine: I fact-checked Sean Hannity on Obamacare” uncovered how he distorted the stories of three couples to imply that they were worse off under Obamacare’s new rules. In fact, the couples are now able to get more coverage for less money, but Hannity did not retract his report.
By last night, Hannity’s lies were corrected on the Rachel Maddow Show, in the Washington Post, Politico, Huffington Post, CNN (VIDEO), The Ed Show (VIDEO), and many other outlets. Hannity refuses to address any of the coverage calling him out for deceit.
But now Consumer Reports has also chimed in, correcting statements made by Hannity, The Hill and bloggers on Breitbart.com as “not true.” Consumer Reports advised shoppers the best time to enroll in Obamacare was a few weeks off, while expected delays and glitches at HealthCare.gov are ironed out. Hannity took this out-of-context, squealing “Consumer Reports, Ann, they’re telling people, ‘stay away from the website!’” in a segment to Ann Coulter, when just the opposite was true. Consumer Reports has unequivocally endorsed the exchange as the best place to purchase health care.
Hannity’s misinformation forced the nation’s leading consumer reporting experts to release a statement correcting the record so Americans can get accurate advice for purchasing healthcare policies. How is this connected to the Tea Party “scorch everything” campaign we just witnessed? Read on …
Continuing The Anti-Obamacare Shutdown Madness
During recent weeks, Hannity’s guests Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Rand Paul have expounded on the ways Obamacare was going to kill jobs, trying to justify a shutdown that cost our economy an estimated $24 billion and 120,000 jobs. These same Republican leaders could have offered any number of jobs bills that would sail through both houses in a heartbeat if they really cared about boosting employment – the stalled transportation bill is one of the more immediate examples
But they could also have modified Obamacare to ensure employers wouldn’t excise staff, if they so desired. The very idea that the ACA will cost jobs is an admission that it doesn’t go far enough to ensure employers don’t penalize workers in offering health coverage.
But just hours after the shutdown failed to do anything and was overwhelmingly blamed on Republicans, Hannity threw his own guests under the bus, saying it was time for the House leadership to be replaced!
Is It Legal To Lie On The Air?
Ironically, Hannity declared this week that he is a “radio professional” fully apprised of FCC rules. But the FCC’s Communications Act going back decades requires stations to put “the public interest” ahead of the interests of the station owners or sponsors. Hannity scoffs at this, crapping on it’s quasi-equal time provisions and prohibitions against on-air electioneering, ignoring community voices every day.
Directly from the FCC website:
“As public trustees, broadcasters may not intentionally distort the news. Broadcasters are responsible for deciding what their stations present to the public, and the FCC has stated publicly that “rigging or slanting the news is a most heinous act against the public interest.”
Today, Hannity is costing the taxpayer valuable money and time. Imagine how many sick people there are out there not enrolling in policies because they misunderstand the program. Just as government agencies at all levels are trying to publicize state exchanges to cover the uninsured, Hannity is distorting the costs, impact on jobs and coverage options – without allowing the other side to correct him.
Hannity is slick, cleverly working off half-truths which are technically true but incomplete and misleading. For example, his claim that Obamacare is opposed by a majority of the public, withholds the fact that about half of those opposed to it feel that it didn’t go far enough, meaning they want it to be many times larger in providing government-run healthcare.
When a news outlet broadcasts falsehoods or in imbalance, the mechanism for recourse is to file complaints with the FCC, which are supposed to be considered during license renewals. Unfortunately, the FCC has turned a deaf ear to public complaints about broadcast bias and sided with the industry in almost every instance of controversy raised, citing great difficulty in documenting that it is deliberate misrepresentation.
The FCC’s high bar recommends that “insiders” or “whistleblowers” turn in evidence showing written orders to distort the news. Otherwise, Hannity can simply say he made a mistake – exactly what he claimed when he was caught editing in stock footage to a report on a Tea Party rally to make it look more crowded.
Not surprisingly, the same FCC commissioners who refuse to stand up to the biggest, most biased broadcasters land comfortably in plum jobs with the broadcast industry – the most recent example being Meredith Atwell Baker who took a job with Comcast-NBC just four months after a vote to approve it’s merger. Keeping the door revolving, the incoming commissioner is also a top industry lobbyist. Ugh.
Does Hannity Have To Offer Retractions?
Apparently, no — Hannity is unapologetic even after being caught lying and proven wrong in fact-checks by multiple mainstream media sources. He lets all criticisms sit unanswered and continues unabated, knowing how many of his listeners do not venture outside their partisan bubbles.
My burning question is what happens when his children come home after learning in school how actual debate is conducted, with all relevant facts laid out for a fair exchange of opposing views. What does he tell them about daddy’s job? How does he explain that he can’t allow any other perspectives on his show? Awkward.
As for OUR children, some of whom literally need health coverage as a life and death issue, how can we allow the #1 broadcaster in his time slot nationwide to lie daily about such important policies?
If Hannity’s misrepresentations about WMD in Iraq won support for a war that resulted in thousands of US troop deaths, if his lies led to a decade of middle class vampirism, falsely promising that tax cuts for the rich will create jobs, if he was caught knowably lying about Romney’s polling, lying about gas availability and union thugs right in the middle of unfolding disasters like Superstorm Sandy, doesn’t the American public at some point need to protect itself from more harm and damage coming via Hannity’s perpetually forked tongue?
Are we powerless to protect the public interest from this Orwellian media takeover?
Originally posted at OpedNews.com
Photo by Cassidy Curtis under Creative Commons license