[Note: This blog post is reprinted from the February 9, 2004 edition of Scoobie Davis Online]
On his radio show, Sean Hannity butchered a quote that John Kerry made in 1971 before a Senate committee that was looking at atrocities committed in Vietnam. Hannity did the same thing the Washington Times' Wes Pruden did earlier (see SemiPundit's analysis). Hannity, like Pruden, deceptively uses ellipses (. . .) in the quote and takes the quote entirely out of context to give a different impression of Kerry's words. Then, Hannity uses the out-of-context quote to launch a vicious attack on Kerry—which Hannity knows not to be true because Hannity saw the original context of the quote. Here is what Hannity—like Pruden--said that Kerry said:
"They ... raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside."
Right after he gave Kerry's out-of-context quote, here is what Hannity said: "That's what John Kerry says he witnessed with his fellow soldiers in Vietnam. John Kerry said that."
Later in the show, Hannity played dumb about the larger context of the quote: [repeating parts of the quote]
...“cut off heads, cut off limbs” Has anyone asked Mr. Kerry if he witnessed this? Has anyone asked Mr. Kerry if he’s ever brought those people to justice—that acted like animals as he’s accusing them of? He says soldiers randomly shot civilians. Did he ever tell the authorities? Has John Kerry ever filed charges against these people? He says his fellow soldiers razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan—that soldiers shot cattle and dogs for fun. These are Americans troops—boys we are talking about. That American soldiers poisoned food stocks and ravaged the countryside. Oh, he witnessed this and he knows who did it or I guess he wouldn’t have said this before Congress. If Vietnam is going to be the issue, let’s ask Senator Kerry, in fact, whether or not he witnessed this, and if, in fact he did, who is responsible for the murder of innocent men, women, and children. Who did he see raping other women in Vietnam? What are their names? Who did he see cutting off ears and heads and limbs in Vietnam? What soldiers did he witness doing this—considering he made the statement back then? He’s using his past service and his medals—was using them then—perhaps to undermine—We have to raise this question. Brave men and women who were still in Vietnam, accusing them of horrible atrocities, accusing his country of widespread murder. I don’t see any evidence to corroborate his charges here and I haven’t seen Tim Russert ask him any questions about these things. That hurt the war effort. That was part of the politics injected in the war—we see what happens. I think an argument can be made that it endangered our soldiers who were out there fighting and dying against an enemy.
REALITY: Hannity knew he was lying through his teeth about whether Kerry witnessed these things personally because he was familiar with what Kerry actually said. Here is the actual quote that Kerry made to the Senate committee without ellipses and in context:
“I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit - the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.”
“They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”
Is Sean Hannity a pathological liar? I’m reporting; you decide.
UPDATE: On Hannity & Colmes tonight, they had a panel discussion with Rich Lowry and Susan Estrich on Kerry's 1971 testimony. To their credit, Colmes and Estrisch did a somewhat adequate job of defending Kerry against Hannity's charges--Colmes brought up the fact that Kerry was reporting what other Vietnam vets had told him, not that he witnessed these events as Hannity dishonestly insinuated; this somewhat squelched Hannity's dishonest line of arguement. Neither Colmes nor Estrich hit any home runs, but keep in mind: this is Fox News.