A fundamental tenet for both rightwing politicians and their media pilot fish is: Never, ever, apologize for the crazy. If you get caught exaggerating or even lying outright, simply respond by saying, "The left sees it differently" or "The mainstream media take their cues from liberals" or some such weasel-bite, even if the dispute is over widely accepted facts.
Yet in just the past couple of days, two of the loudest and most obdurate voices on the right have had to apologize, or at least feign doing so, for major bloopers concerning Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s Tea Party rally held on Capitol Hill on November 5.
The most slippery mea culpa came from Fox News’s Sean Hannity. On the day of the rally (a/k/a "the Super Bowl of Freedom"), he used fake footage to bolster Bachmann’s absurd claim that the protest drew a crowd of 20,000 to 45,000–when reliable estimates stretch from 4,000 to 10,000, tops. Hannity’s producers spliced scenes from the much larger 9/12 rally sponsored by Glenn Beck in between shots of Bachmann’s much smaller turnout on 11/5, suggesting that her group had spilled out onto the Mall.
Journalistically a mortal sin, but in context the subterfuge was even worse, because Fox had been gaming Teabagger crowd sizes for months. Reliable crowd estimates for that earlier Tea Party of Beck’s were around 70,000, though Beck and sympathizers willfully kept up a running dispute about police crowd counts, asserting at different times that there were 100,000, a million, 2 million (and counting!) protestors out there last September.
Hannity’s film-flam probably would have gone unnoticed, adding yet another drop to the vast sea of fictions the rightwing media float upon, had not Jon Stewart’s eagle-eyed staff found an oddity: In some of Hannity’s clips verdant late summer greenery graced the November rally, while others were framed by the yellow and orange foliage of fall.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck’s Protest Footage|
Whoops! On Wednesday night, wagging his lantern chin as if to say, "Go ahead, take a poke at me," Hannity delivered a classic nonapology apology: