Last night Fox News’ Sean Hannity was made to look like a fool by his own producer, who in the process made two Republican senators look like fools as well.
The popular theme with Republicans in congress over the days leading up to the shut down has been “why won’t the president talk to us?” Just a few days ago, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) tweeted a video that began and ended with this question:
Why is the Obama Administration willing to negotiate with Putin on Syria…But not with congress to address Washington’s spending problem?
During an interview segment with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Barrasso (R-WY) on the September 30 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity asked the following question:
Senator Graham, let me see if I understand this. The president will talk to Syria, Iran, Vladimir Putin but he won’t talk to members of the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. Do I have that right?
Sen. Graham: Yes. But it’s an unsustainable position over time but yes, you got it right.
The problem for Hannity and Graham occurred a short time later, in a breaking news alert flashed on the bottom of the screen which said
Pres Obama called the four top congressional leaders tonight
It is entirely possible that the headline was displayed as “breaking news” in an attempt to make it appear that the president had waited until the last minute to call Republican leaders. Unfortunately for Fox News, a Reuters story about the call was posted some ninety minutes before Hannity went on the air at 9:00 PM EDT.
Since continued Tea Party opposition to the Affordable Care Act is at the center of the shutdown, most of the interview centered around that topic. As one might expect, the claim that the president wasn’t talking to Republicans was not the only lie or distortion in the interview. Senator Barrasso also referred to the supposed “exemption” from Obamacare that congress received:
And two, eliminate this special deal for members of Congress and the White House — that again the president, the president unilaterally has granted. And I don’t think he has a right to do it. We need to get rid of that.
The “special deal,” to which the senator refers is in regard to the amendment placed in the Affordable Care Act by Senator Grassley (R-IA) which made members of congress and their staffs possibly the first employees of any concern to lose their employer sponsored health care. The claim that this somehow amounts to an “exemption” for congress has been thoroughly debunked.
Hannity also echoed the GOP claim that the president has repeatedly modified the law.
Well, the president amended this bill now on his own unilaterally 14 times.
Georgia Republican congressman Tom Graves made a similar claim when he said that the president had amended the law “19 times”; a claim that Politifact rated as “half true.” In an analysis last month Politifact pointed out that health care experts say that there have only been three significant changes to the law. While Congressman Graves got the number of changes correct at 19 (14 public laws and 5 administrative changes), Politifact says that most of the changes were in small matters, such as clarification of language, something that congress does on a routine basis. Politifact also observed
It is also clear that Obama did not drive the majority of the changes. They emerged as Congress worked on various elements of a multi-faceted law.
And for good measure, Hannity wrapped up with the now debunked claim made by a Forbes.com writer that Obamacare would result in an increase in cost of $7500 for a family of four. Forbes resident liberal, Rick Ungar, called this claim “not only wrong, but kind of embarrassing” in his article which proved it to be false.
Here’s the video: