Media

AUDIO: Hannity Feeds Stephanopoulos Debate Question On Weather Underground

Last night’s ABC News Democratic presidential candidates debate was co-moderated by George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson, but the unseen influence of Fox News’ Sean Hannity was also on stage.

Hannity, who for months has been aggressively pushing a story about Barack Obama’s connections to a former member of a radical anti-Vietnam 1970s organization called the Weather Underground, interviewed Stephanopoulos on his radio show on Tuesday, where he pressed the ABC host to ask Obama about this:

HANNITY: There are two questions that I don’t think anybody has asked Barack Obama, and I don’t know if this is going to be on your list tomorrow. One is – the only time he’s ever been asked about his association with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist from the Weather Underground who on 9/11 of all days in the New York Times was saying “I don’t regret setting bombs. I don’t think we did enough.” When asked about it by the Politico, David Axelrod said that they have a friendly relationship, and that they had done a number of speeches together and that they sat on a board together. Is that a question you might ask?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I’m taking notes right now.

HANNITY: September 11, 2001 of all days, there was an article in the New York Times. And there are a number of quotes about Bill Ayers. The Politico had in there the comments from David Axelrod.

Listen here:

http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/04/hannitysteph.320.40.flv

In the debate last night, Stephanopoulos asked a question that mirrored almost word-for-word what Hannity pressed him to ask:

STEPHANOPOULOS: A gentleman named William Ayers, he was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that. And in fact, on 9/11 he was quoted in The New York Times saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough.”

An early organizing meeting for your state senate campaign was held at his house, and your campaign has said you are friendly. Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won’t be a problem?

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/04/obama123.320.240.flv]

The Washington Post’s Tom Shales writes today, “ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.” The debate moderators were heckled after the debate, prompting Gibson to react. “Oh…” he declared, hands raised in defense. “The crowd is turning on me, the crowd is turning on me.”

Not everyone was upset about the debate. The New York Times’ David Brooks writes, “I understand the complaints, but I thought the questions were excellent.” So does Hannity.

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