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General News    H2'ed 7/18/11

Caught Scissorhanded: Sean Hannity Edits Obama's Answer at Press Conference

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Gustav Wynn
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Hannity's Latest Deceit
Hannity's Latest Deceit
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I heard the press conference as it aired, so I knew something was wrong on Hannity's radio show when it sounded very different.
President Obama held a press conference Friday, looking to convince America we don't need to gut Social Security and Medicare if we can cut defense, oil subsidies or modestly raise taxes on the rich who did not deliver promised jobs in the last decade as their incomes soared. Obama sought to make his case to the American people. 
Regardless of which side you are on in the debate over debt, tax cuts for the rich, handouts for corporate jets or Obama's re-election, Americans all agree that we need to hear both sides of the debate acurately so we can make up our minds - or do we? 
I thought we all reject propaganda or yellow journalism distorting news. No one likes being compared to Tokyo Rose or Hitler's information minister Josef Goebbels, yet America's biggest political pundits show you can win by using censorship and distortion.
Last Friday, Hannity actually changed what Obama said so listeners cannot decide who is right and wrong. He has been systematically and repeatedly misleading audience for years.
Last week we showed how Hannity's call screeners use intimidation and repression by demanding phone numbers from liberal callers. But Friday, Hannity went back to a trick he'd been criticized for famously - selective, deceptive editing of news clips. 
Remember when Jon Stewart busted Hannity on the Daily Show for astroturfing footage of crowd scenes to make a Michele Bachmann rally he promoted seem more well attended? Some called for Hannity's firing then, but Hannity apologized, claiming it was an honest mistake - Hannity's boss at News Corp. Roger Ailes pledged there would be firings if it happened again.
This threat was as dishonest as anything, because Hannity had already deceptively edited clips and footage multiple times. In July 2009, Jason Linkins of Huffington Post exposed this in Sean Hannity Caught Selectively Editing Obama Speeches, Again (VIDEO). Jon Stewart caught Hannity editing Obama out of context just a month before in his Cairo speech, making the President's meaning appear to be the opposite of what he meant.
This is not a case of Hannity splicing together soundclips to make things clearer or shorter, this is Hannity omitting audio to deliberately change the answer. Hannity was petulant when he was taken out of context, for example calling his audience Tim McVeigh wannabes, he explained that was merely him pretending to be his detractors. But Hannity is seen here doing the same on a far more important topic - the President addressing the nation on our current fiscal priorities. 
Before he aired this censored clip, Hannity actually told listeners to stay tuned, because he was going to soon show that Obama was avoiding answering Jake Tapper's question. If anything Obama was long-winded. Tapper's question in full:
Jake Tapper: Thank you, Mr. President. You've said that reducing the deficit will require shared sacrifice.  We know - we have an idea of the taxes that you would like to see raised on corporations and on Americans in the top two tax brackets, but we don't yet know what you specifically are willing to do when it comes to entitlement spending.  In the interest of transparency, leadership, and also showing the American people that you have been negotiating in good faith, can you tell us one structural reform that you are willing to make to one of these entitlement programs that would have a major impact on the deficit?  Would you be willing to raise the retirement age?  Would you be willing to means test Social Security or Medicare?
Below is the written transcript of the press conference, according to WSJ. In bold are the portions Hannity played, edited together slickly and seamlessly. Everything else was secretly censored. 
Hannity edited together a total of four lines, wholly changing the answer. This means Hannity was lying when he said Obama avoids the question - judge for yourself. As usual, Hannity did not announce this was a "montage", edited, clipped, shortened, etc. either before or afterwards. The recording starts at the very end of Tapper's question:  

Jake Tapper: ...would you be willing to means test Social Security or Medicare?
THE PRESIDENT: I've said that means testing on Medicare, meaning people like myself, if -- I'm going to be turning 50 in a week.  So I'm starting to think a little bit more about Medicare eligibility.  (Laughter.)  Yes, I'm going to get my AARP card soon -- and the discounts.
But you can envision a situation where for somebody in my position, me having to pay a little bit more on premiums or co-pays or things like that would be appropriate. And, again, that could make a difference.  So we've been very clear about where we're willing to go.  What we're not willing to do is to restructure the program in the ways that we've seen coming out of the House over the last several months where we would voucherize the program and you potentially have senior citizens paying $6,000 more. 
I view Social Security and Medicare as the most important social safety nets that we have.  I think it is important for them to remain as social insurance programs that give people some certainty and reliability in their golden years.
But it turns out that making some modest modifications in those entitlements can save you trillions of dollars.  And it's not necessary to completely revamp the program. What is necessary is to say how do we make some modifications, including, by the way, on the providers' side.  I think that it's important for us to keep in mind that drug companies, for example, are still doing very well through the Medicare program.  And although we have made drugs more available at a cheaper price to seniors who are in Medicare through the Affordable Care Act, there's more work to potentially be done there.
So if you look at a balanced package even within the entitlement programs, it turns out that you can save trillions of dollars while maintaining the core integrity of the program. 
Jake Tapper: And the retirement age?
THE PRESIDENT:  I'm not going to get into specifics.  As I said, Jake, everything that you mentioned are things that we have discussed.

Wow! As Rupert Murdoch's international phone hacking scandal unfolds, Americans wonder when his various broadcasting licenses come up for renewal. In evidence will be whether or not licensees demonstrate "good character" in their role as news purveyors and commentators while presenting important information and political punditry "for the public good". Sean Hannity has already piled up a history of troubling incidents showing his radio show is a propaganda outlet trying to portray the appearance of balance while suppressing the most relevant arguments of the day. 
With Murdoch's top managers now arrested and the allegations slowly but surely pointing to the US managers, Americans need to know who we can trust for reliable reporting. The scandal surrounding Fox News and News Corporation is only heating up, now including overt threats to fire "bed-wetting liberals". 
We knew Hannity's boss Roger Ailes paid Judith Regan almost $11 million in a secret settlement after she alleged Ailes urged her to lie about Rudy Giuliani's now-jailed protegà Bernie Kerik.
NY Post chief Peter Carlucci's strangely secretive multimillion dollar settlements as head of News America also suggest hush money, as do the millions paid in Britain to phone hacking victims approved by Rupert's Murdoch's son James.
It's going to be imperative each Murdoch employee can demonstrate their journalistic credibility as we see how the bosses at News and Fox disregard professionalism and even criminal law. 
Otherwise we may well assume Hannity and other Fox staff was following the example of their corporate bosses. Looking at Hannity's past and present, such as this latest chop job, it's clear America needs to decide - do we want to be lied to or not?
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(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)

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