Fox News host Sean Hannity is so adamant that waterboarding is not torture that he once offered to be waterboarded at a charity event and donate the proceeds to soldiers’ families. Four years later, a yet-to-be-waterboarded Hannity did not take kindly to being called out about it on his own radio show.
On April 22, 2009, Charles Grodin appeared on Hannity’s Fox News show and asked Hannity, if he doesn’t believe waterboarding is torture, would he agree to be waterboarded. “Sure,” Hannity said. “I’ll do it for charity. I’ll let you do it. I’ll do it for the troops’ families.” But four years later, Hannity has yet to follow through on his offer.
When ThinkProgress brought up the matter at the beginning of an appearance on his radio show on Wednesday, Hannity’s displeasure was palpable. “I’m not getting into your five-year-old issue,” Hannity grumbled. We pressed on when he was planning to hold the event, the Fox host lost it. “Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. I get to ask the questions on the program,” Hannity said:
SCOTT KEYES: Before we get started I wanted to say one quick thing. Back in April 2009, you’d made a very generous offer. To prove that it’s not torture, you agreed on your television show to be waterboarded for charity and to donate the proceeds to the troops’ families.
HANNITY: I said Charles Grodin could do it.
KEYES: Now I know you’re an honorable guy Sean, when are you planning to hold the event?
HANNITY: You’re obviously taping this. I’m not getting into your five-year-old issue. Here I am bringing you on the program and give you an opportunity to give your pretty radical left-wing point of view, that’s kind of the way you treat me. But that’s all right.
KEYES: Sean, I’m just curious because you don’t think this is torture.
HANNITY: Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. I get to ask the questions on the program.
Listen to it:
Hannity gave no indication that he was planning to follow through on his promise to be waterboarded for charity.
Immediately following the show, Hannity was so incensed that he personally called ThinkProgress to complain. He accused ThinkProgress of being “fixated” on the matter, baffled that we brought up an issue that he said hasn’t been news for years. After we respectfully disagreed and explained that it was disingenuous for him to offer to be waterboarded in order to prove that it’s not torture, only not to follow through on the offer, Hannity sighed, “what you’re doing here is really stupid.” He insisted, though, that it wasn’t a sensitive subject.
Waterboarding is still an extremely important, and undercovered, story today. It still exists, it’s still torture, and the only American who’s been sentenced to prison over the matter is a former CIA agent and vocal torture opponent who spoke out about the practice. Waterboarding is now part of the mainstream with the help of defenders like Hannity who insist that it’s not actually torture.