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Tuesday, June 03, 2003


Hannity’s Clip Job
In last Saturday’s Daily Howler, it takes on Andrew Sullivan for taking issue Maureen Dowd’s clipped quote when Sullivan himself is a practitioner of the very sin he criticized. As someone who monitors the hard right, I can attest to the commonplace practice of clipping quotes by the right. For instance, we have Sean Hannity who works for the Fair and Balanced News Network. Last year when Hannity’s book Let Freedom Ring was published, I asked people to scrutinize Hannity’s book because I had other projects to attend to; there was no groundswell to do this (though Spinsanity did a good review of the book).

Last week, I finally got a chance to look over Hannity’s book and I found, to no big surprise, that Let Freedom Ring is just as much a literary cesspool as Ann Coulter’s Slander . I don’t have time or space to get into a long treatise on the matter but I did want mention Hannity’s clipped quote. Here is Hannity on Bill Clinton’s 1969 letter to Colonel Holmes:

He [Clinton] then went on to disparage the American Government, the American military, and those who were fighting and dying in Vietnam. He concluded by saying that he hoped his letter would help Colonel Holmes “understand more clearly how so many fine young people had come to find themselves still loving their country but loathing the military.”...It was highly controversial stuff when the letter surfaced during the 1992 Democratic primary in New Hampshire. But amid the political firefight, the importance of Clinton’s letter was overlooked...What should have truly disturbed us was not that Clinton disagreed with America’s involvement in the Vietnam War but that he showed such disdain for the very brave young people who serve in the military and safeguard our freedoms. [Let Freedom Ring, pg. 75 emphases added]

REALITY: Hannity methodically cooked the data Clinton’s quotes to support his false contention that Clinton was disparaging “those fighting and dying in Vietnam.” How? By clipping the end of Clinton’s quote and not letting his reader know that he was doing it.

There is nothing inherently wrong with leaving out the end of a sentence when quoting what someone wrote or said if:
1) The words at the end of the sentence are superfluous and/or don’t add significant meaning to the quote.
2) The person writing the quote uses ellipses (...) to indicate that it is not the end of the sentence.

Hannity falls shorts on both criteria:
1) Hannity didn’t use ellipses to indicate that the sentence was being clipped.
2) The words at the end of Clinton’s sentence add significant meaning to the quote. These words refute Hannity’s allegation. Here is the entire sentence from Clinton’s letter: “I am writing too in the hope that my telling this one story will help you to understand more clearly how so many fine people have come to find themselves still loving their country but loathing the military to which you and other good men have devoted years, lifetimes of the best service you could give.” There was no sin for Hannity to clip the front of the sentence because it didn’t give us any significant information. But by clipping the back of the quote, he deceived tens of thousands of people who weren’t given information that refuted Hannity’s lie that Clinton was denigrating those who were wearing the uniform.

Typical Hannity deception.


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