When watching major news events such as the unrest in Baltimore, Maryland caused by the recent death of Freddie Gray, I like to observe the coverage from all angles which is why I have been channel surfing from MSNBC and CNN to Fox News.
Tuning in to "Hannity" on Fox has been a roller coaster ride. I went from thinking his reporter on the street, Leland Vittert, did a decent job on Monday night interviewing angry rioters and bystanders on the streets of Baltimore to scratching my head as Vittert led a crazy chase of Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) Wednesday night while the Congressman was on a bullhorn trying to get people to go home at the 10 PM curfew. Sean Hannity kept prompting Leland to ask Representative Cummings questions about whether or not the President rushed to judgment on the death of Freddie Gray.
Maybe both Leland and Sean missed it but Cummings used a one word response: "No," and then continued to urge people to go home on his bullhorn.
That whole experience and Sean Hannity's constant obsession with demeaning President Obama may be why his ratings have gone down and Fox News switched his show to 10 PM while moving "The Kelly Files" to 9 PM.
Sean Hannity devoted a lot of time on his show Wednesday night to asking guests to comment on what he described as President Obama being wrong and rushing to judgment on four racial instances of the past.
I find it an exercise in futility to bring up past events as each is unique with its own circumstances. However, since Hannity brought it up to berate our president, I would like to add my perspective of each instance to defend President Obama.
1. Gates vs. Crowley. The President weighed in early in his first term on the arrest of his friend, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates by Cambridge (MA) Police Sgt. James Crowley in July of 2009 by saying the police acted "stupidly." While it may have been an emotional reaction that the President expressed, I agree he could have waited until more facts were in before rendering an opinion. But he is human and Gates is his friend and being arrested for breaking into your own house after you lost your key is embarrassing. Race could have played a factor in the neighbor calling the police and the officer assuming it was a burglar because he was a black man. Who knows? But the President made an attempt to make it a learning experience by hosting a "beer summit" and bringing the two men together which I found uplifting. So a negative was turned into a positive. Why constantly bring up this old, resolved story?
2. Zimmerman vs. Martin. Sean Hannity thinks the President rushed to judgment taking the side of Trayvon Martin who was shot and killed by vigilante, George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida in 2012. I don't recall the President ever rendering a judgment on the case but only urging peaceful restraint and asking everyone to allow the political process to take place. He did say: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon Martin." So yes, he did personalize it which I don't fault him for. Mr. Hannity, the President is African American and so he does relate to young black youths because he himself was one as was former Attorney General Eric Holder.
3. Brown vs. Wilson. In the wake of Ferguson, Missouri violent protests last year sparked by the shooting of an unarmed black youth, Michael Brown, by police officer, Darren Wilson, President Obama spoke of unfair police practices and racial profiling and once again urged peaceful protests but never took a side in the debate of the killing of Michael Brown. In fact, the President was criticized by many blacks and those in his own party for not speaking out enough on this case. I think he has walked a fine line and engaged the Justice Department under Attorney General Holder to lead an investigation into the incident which has initiated many changes in how the police department in Ferguson is run.
4. Gray vs. Baltimore police. Now Sean Hannity is accusing the President of rushing to judgment in Baltimore. Having read all of the transcripts from the President's recent press conference on the subject, I fail to see any evidence of where he took a side. He once again urged peaceful protests, called the rioters a handful of criminals and he said police departments all over the country need to do some soul searching as does the community and the rest of the country. I applaud that statement.
Does Sean Hannity live on the same planet as the rest of us? I believe there is a certain hypocrisy here when he accuses the President of inciting violence while he, Hannity is quick to point to a recent leaked report in the Washington Post that states that a fellow rider in the police van said that Freddie Gray brought his physical damage onto himself by banging his head on the wall. Not a thoroughly credible witness as there was a wall between them and he could not see what was going on.
Hannity kept saying that he himself does not really know what happened, yet he continually referred to this report which in itself could serve as a catalyst for more violence. So techinically Hannity could be putting out unsubstantiated speculation that could add fuel to the fire, the same accusation he has laid on the President.
The only Fox News reporter that displayed any sanity on Hannity's show Wednesday was street reporter Geraldo Rivera. He said he felt that this leaked information might ignite more anger and violence. He also said that what Representative Cummings was doing urging folks to go home at the time of the curfew was working. Of course, Hannity chose to ignore Geraldo's remarks.
Also, Hannity kept reporting that the Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave an order to police to stand down on Monday night in the midst of looting, arson, and riots even though the Mayor has denied it and the report's source is anonymous and unsubstantiated.
Will Sean Hannity ever apologize to his viewers if the leaked report about Gray severing his own spinal chord by banging his head against the wall of the police van turns out to be wrong? I won't hold my breath.
I believe it is the height of hypocrisy to accuse our President of "rushing to judgment" while Hannity reports leaked stories and speculations that fit his narrative and right wing agenda that attacks the President and Democrats.
I, for one, think we should all wait for the results of the Baltimore prosecutor's report and hope our new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch (who was sworn in Monday, the day of the riots. Welcome to your new job, Loretta) will also investigate so we can get truth and justice and not rush to Hannity's Insanity of hypocritical, inflammatory, and politically motivated judgment.
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