Sep 6, 2007

Republican Debate: FOX Distorts, Won't Let You Decide; Ron Paul and Why Hannity Should be Fired

Fox claims in their so-called electronic journalism efforts that "We report, you decide", and claimto be "fair and balanced". But as usual, FOX proved itself to be unfair, unbalanced, and the direct intervention of journalists, hosts, and debate questioneers into the candidates responses--subjecting them to personal ridicule, insulting their intelligence, disrespecting their tenure of public service as Congressmen or other authorities--is a violation of the ethics of journalism in such a Debate Format, and an obvious attempt TO CONTROL THE APPEARANCE AND OUTCOME of some candidates--something the arrogant Sean Hannity was deliberately doing, as if he were not interviewing a Congressman but taking "a caller" for a talk show. This is a direct violation of the code of ethics for journalism, and contrary to FOX's own self-righteous and false claims of "fair and balanced".

Pejorative insults, condescending remarks, arrogant interjections, bias and misleading statements, derogatory and dismissive assertions (without facts or evidence) for the purpose of (not clarifying or reporting but) injuring and impugning a candidates responses are unacceptable as far as journalistic ethics. (Don Surber could learn a thing or two about ethics in journalism as well).

We are not alone in our assessment. Consider the following from the Society of Professional Journalists:

Seek Truth and Report It

Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:

Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to
give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

— Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.

Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

— Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.


From this we may conservatively assert that Sean Hannity and other FOX questioners violated these journalistic ethical standards. They did NOT brand their interviews as "commentary or opinion" and attempted to "misrepresent", "distort", and prevent the "open exchange". Sean Hannity talks as if HE HIMSELF IS THE CANDIDATE. That is not reporting. That is distorting. This disqualifies Sean Hannity as a "professional journalist".

But Sean Hannity, unprofessional journalist, violating the plain and obvious code of ethics in a post-debate "interview" (i.e. inquisition), was not satisfied at this. While he himself urged viewers to text message their votes, he then dismisses the vote results (where Ron Paul was winning)--without evidence, and with direct insults! In other words, "We report" was not only violated but "you decide"!

Here is how DownsizeDC reacted to his dismissal of the text voting, and proof that it was a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth--an outright lie!

D o w n s i z e r - D i s p a t c h
Subject: Ron Paul and Sean Hannity

Ron Paul's downsizing message won the support of 33% of the viewers who participated in the phone-in poll after the September 5th Presidential debate on FoxNews.

Sean Hannity of FoxNews didn't like that result, so he fibbed to his audience about it.

Hannity repeatedly groaned, "Oh no, not again," and claimed that "Ron Paul's 3% - the tiny, insignificant fringe of Ron Paul supporters" - were voting multiple times.

False. A Ron Paul supporter showed what happens when you try to vote more than once.

A RAW Story commenter provides a second confirmation.

Fact: you can't vote more than once, and Sean Hannity should know this, since his network set up the phone poll.

Sean Hannity wants to silence and marginalize the downsizing message, and he's willing to fib to convince people that only a tiny fringe supports smaller government.

We must make Hannity retract his false statements about the FoxNews phone poll so that the downsizing message has a fair chance to be heard, without being marginalized.

Please use the form below to send Hannity a message, setting him straight, and demanding that he tell the truth to his audience. You can send your message here.

You can also follow-up with a phone call to FoxNews at this number: 1-888-369-4762

Please forward this message to concerned friends so that Hannity and FoxNews hear complaints from as many people as possible!

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

D o w n s i z e r - D i s p a t c h
is the official email list of, Inc. & Downsize DC Foundation

Another excellent analysis and article, Ron Paul Railroaded by FOX News Debate, captures and disproves this outrageous lie and "conspiracy theory" of "text spamming" (pay attention Don Surber) by both Hannity and Colmes thus:

5. Dismissing the Phone Poll

Upon learning that Ron Paul was blowing away the field in the Fox News “who won the debate” telephone poll, Sean Hannity sighed in frustration and said “I’m sick of this.” Ron Paul also was the early winner of the first Fox News debate. One has to ask, if they’re sick of Paul winning, why don’t they stop conducting the poll? Colmes then laughs off the Paul victory, stating that the Paul supporters are just dialing in repeatedly. This caused me to raise an eyebrow. The text-voting is no-charge. Is Fox News really counting multiple text-votes like some American Idol episode?

To test this hypothesis, I voted for Ron Paul via text twice. I got two text-messages back from Fox. The first:

FOX News UVOTE: Thank you for voting! Watch Hannity & Colmes for the results.

The second message I got from Fox was:

You have already voted on tonight’s debate. Thank you for your participation.

Now, if you think that Paul supporters are sitting in a warehouse with a farm of activated cell phones using each one to text in to the Fox News poll, maybe you could see where Colmes is coming from. (watch somebody try). Somebody should tell the correspondents that, in fact, you cannot vote twice. The reason that Ron Paul continues to win these post-debate polls is because he has the kind of supporters who care about their candidate and are willing to pick up a phone and dial a few numbers when necessary. It’s enthusiasm, plain and simple. It’s amazing how people can get excited about the message of liberty.

What else is interesting about this recent victory is that Hannity accused Ron Paul supporters of spamming the polls after the FIRST Fox debate. I didn’t text vote then, so I’m not sure if spamming was even possible at that time. What I do remember is that after the first debate, Paul got a huge lead, then slowly lost ground to Romney throughout the night (maybe Romney supporters started spamming?). This time, Ron Paul got the lead and kept it easily, finishing with a 33% to 18% (Huckabee) lead - a landslide. If they did fix the spamming issue between the first and second debates, it obviously worked in Paul’s favor.

ast, it would be very easy for Fox to recognize that Ron Paul did well in their poll and leave it at that, but they choose to go out of their way to discredit their own numbers - and ONLY because Paul won, they wouldn’t have the same attitude if Romney ever wins one of these things (which he won’t because he’s a waffler and people don’t trust him).

6. Sean Hannity

He gripes constantly with Ron Paul as though he’s offended that he’s in the race. Letting this guy near a forum that coins the slogan “we report, you decide” is like inviting Hitler to a bar mitzvah. It’s a trap.


Conclusion No. 2

Therefore we may again conservatively assert that Sean Hannity, Allen Combs, and our local Don Surber, violate the code of ethics of professional journalists by making GROUNDLESS ASSERTIONS AS IF THEY ARE FACT AND THUS INSERTING THEMSELVES INTO THE JOURNALISTIC PROCESS AND INTERFERING AND CONTROLLING PUBLIC PERCEPTION. Recall again from the journalists' code:

Journalists should:

Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

The public has a right to demand that FOX live up to its claims "as advertised" of "we (merely) report, you (not us) decide". Journalists that violate their own claims and the journalistic code of ethics, like Sean Hannity, SHOULD BE FIRED, for they dimish the credibility of FOX and make its "advertised claims" untrue.

This should outrage intelligent thinking West Virginians, especially republican conservatives, who should desire a higher ethical standard for their own party's debates and political processes. This made one former Marine so indignant he wrote the following:

What Sean Hannity needs to learn before giving history lessons

September 6, 2007 – The pompous Sean Hannity last night had the audacity to tell the Honorable Congressman Ron Paul that he (Hannity) was going to give Congressman Ron Paul a history lesson. If I had been sitting next to Hannity at that very moment, with God as my witness, I would have knocked Hannity’s teeth down his throat. To be certain, Sean Hannity is one of the few human beings that I can thing of that if I ever start to hit, I will have to be pulled off of before I beat to death. I honestly do not know if I could stop beating this bastard relying upon my own restraint.

Maybe it is Hannity’s pursed-lipped approach to his self-righteous piteous politics that so enrages me – or maybe it’s simply the fact that I sense he is a big wimp that wouldn’t survive even the first week of Marine Corps boot camp. Having spent 10 plus years in the Corps and having served as a Marine Corps Drill Instructor on Parris Island, SC I believe grants me the liberty to make such a personal assessment of this worthless chicken hawk and hater of authentic liberty and freedom.

May his tribe increase, and public demand for ethical standards drive Sean Hannity off the air for violating FOX's own ethical and advertised claims of "fair and balanced"--"we report, you decide". Reliance on this medium for "news and information", while perhaps entertaining, is contrary to an educated public and is the bastion of nothing less than political propaganda.

Watch Ron Paul "educate" the frustrated Sean Hannity