In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer on Wednesday’s 'Good Morning America,' Sean Hannity defended fellow talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh has taken a lot of heat in the press for his criticism of Michael J. Fox’s campaign ads in favor of embryonic stem cell research and Democratic Senate candidates. Hannity fought the notion that Fox, who has injected himself through these ads into the political arena, is "immune" from critics, a view Sawyer seemed to express:
Sawyer: "Rush Limbaugh. What, what is going on here? Attacking Michael J. Fox?...Rush Limbaugh, even in his apology, said that Mike Fox was allowing his illness to be exploited, shilling for a Democratic candidate. If you have Parkinson’s disease, and you believe embryonic stem cell research is the, is the answer, a possible answer, a possible cure, don't you have a right to speak up?"
Hannity: "You have a right to speak up, but he also has a right to be criticized. He’s a guy that is very political...He’s supporting a guy in Maryland, Ben Cardin and Ben Cardin voted the opposite way of which he wanted. Why isn’t he running ads against the Democrat? He supported John Kerry. He supported Chuck Schumer. He wants these guys defeated. It doesn’t–he’s not immune from any criticism." [cut]
Hannity went further in pointing out the politics behind the ad:
Hannity: "And, you know, what's so sinister about this ad, first of all, it’s an 11th hour ad. It comes out, Michael J. Fox knows he’s–well, he wants to defeat these Republicans. That's why two weeks out of an election he's come in here...And I think, you know, unfortunately, he wants to create an impression here Republicans don't care about the health of people, they don’t want to cure Parkinson’s, this is only about the funding of federal stem cell issues."
Sawyer then wondered if Limbaugh went "too far." Hannity defended Limbaugh, arguing that he was referring to Fox’s book, in which he admitted to not taking his medication before testifying for a Senate subcommittee. Sawyer falsely stated that Limbaugh did no such thing:
Sawyer: "But, bottom line, did Rush Limbaugh go too far for you?"
Hannity: "I think–my take on what Rush said, is Rush was referring to Michael J. Fox’s own admission in his own book where he said he stopped taking the medication–"
Sawyer: "He didn’t say that. He didn't talk about the congressional testimony–"
Sawyer was mistaken. According to this transcript from Limbaugh’s radio program, the radio show host specifically cited Fox’s testimony before Congress:
Rush Limbaugh: "I did some research today, and I found his book that was published. It's 'Lucky Man,' 2002, but he admits in the book that before Senate subcommittee on appropriations I think in 1999, September of 1999, he did not take his medication for the purposes of having the ravages and the horrors of Parkinson's disease illustrated, which was what he has done in the commercials that are running for Claire McCaskill and Jim Talent...."
Hannity then went on to point out the inaccuracies of the ads:
Hannity: "What's unfortunate and deceiving about the ad, though, this is important, is that this is about the federal funding of embryotic stem cells. Stem cell research is legal in Missouri. It's being funded, and it’s going on in state universities and that’s not put in the ad."
The other major topic discussed was about a campaign ad being run in Tennessee for white Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker against a black Democrat, Harold Ford, Jr. In the ad, a woman is shown saying, "Harold Ford looks nice, isn’t that enough?" While Corker himself has criticized the ad, Sawyer wondered if the ad was a sign of "desperation by the Republicans." Hannity slammed the Democrats for their "selective moral outrage":
Sawyer: "Harold Ford looks nice, isn't that enough? Does this read as desperation by the Republicans?"
Hannity: "We have a race, an African-American Republican candidate in the state of Maryland, Michael Steel. Michael Steel was called a token by a Democrat, Steny Hoyer, was, in his particular race, he said he has a slavish mentality to the Republican party. The only thing that bothers me is there seems to be selective moral outrage by Democrats. They have not spoken out about those outrageous comments. They’ve defended them."
Hannity then listed several examples of Democrats making racially-charged statements that went largely ignored by their fellow liberals and the media. Sawyer, however, didn’t want to get into a discussion of those remarks. She wanted to put the focus squarely on this one GOP ad:
Hannity: "So, look, if you go back and you want to talk about the race card historically in elections, a Missouri ad ran in ‘98 that said if you elect Republicans, black churches will burn. We know the controversy over the James Byrd NAACP ad. Al Gore once said in an African American church in 2000, Republicans don't want to count you in the census. You know, lot of incendiary things have been said over the years and–"
Sawyer: "Yeah, but we’re–that's over the years. We're talking about right now..."
Playing the race card in the past doesn't seem to matter, according to Sawyer and the liberal media, when Democrats are the players.