In 2010, Hannity defended Rand Paul, who created controversy during his Senate run for opposing the Civil Rights Act. Hannity said to Paul on his Fox show, “When I first saw the news coverage of it, I said, ‘What? He doesn’t support the Civil Rights Act?’ That’s how it was portrayed. And you clearly laid out just the opposite, and it was very clear.” According to Hannity, the media “tried to purposely distort” what Paul had said.
Further, he has come to the defense of James O’Keefe after O’Keefe was charged with illegally attempting to gain access Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office. O’Keefe, a conservative activist who worked with the late Andrew Breitbart, is known for a heavily-edited hidden-video recording in which he, dressed as a pimp, walked into an office of the now defunct community group ACORN. In the video, O’Keefe, accompanied by a woman dressed as a prostitute, told ACORN staff they wanted to open a brothel. That video led to federal defunding of ACORN and the organization’s demise. O’Keefe’s reason for targeting the group was their massive voter registration drives that help poor blacks and Latinos to vote against Republican candidates.
In October 2008, Hannity interviewed Andy Martin, the main source of rumors that candidate Obama was a Muslim. Martin once called a judge a “crooked, slimy Jew,” and accused black public officials of corruption. After failing to challenge Martin for his racially incendiary statements, Hannity offered, “I’m a journalist who interviews people who I disagree with all the time, that give their opinion. Fox has all points of view.”
Further, on Hannity’s Fox show, a 2007 protest in support of the Jena 6—a group of black teens who were arrested after white classmates hanged nooses at a tree in the high school courtyard— was presented as an issue of black racism. Hannity also defended Dog “The Bounty Hunter” Chapman, who went on a racist videotaped rant in which he called his son’s black girlfriend a ni**er.
Hannity played a role in rehabilitating Chapman’s image. “And he wanted to emphasize one thing to me. Number one, he admits he’s wrong. He uses horrible language on a regular basis and that he’s changing that now in his life,” Hannity said of Chapman. “And he emphasized again, this was never and is never about race… He doesn’t have any racist tendencies at all in his life and he wanted that message to get out.”
Hannity added: “He’s on the street. He uses salty language. He admits it. And this is part of that language, and he wanted everybody to know. It is equivalent to him cursing, not an insult to people based on race.”
Finally, when Mel Gibson made anti-Semitic remarks after a police stop for drunk driving, Hannity portrayed Gibson as a victim, saying that “when people really mess up, and if they really take responsibility and they really, honestly and truly apologize – we seem to be unforgiving in a lot of ways.”
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove