Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: Hannity, Ellison should bury the hatchet

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Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists

Earth to Sean Hannity and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison: Gentlemen, please bury your beef.

Ellison is an African-American and a Muslim, the first member of his faith to serve in Congress. He's also a Democrat.

Hannity, as if he needs an introduction, is the host of a Fox News Channel show called "Hannity."

Last week Ellison appeared on Hannity's show. I assumed he was there to give the Democrats' view about sequestration and rebut Hannity's comments about President Obama. Ellison did neither. Instead, he launched into an ad hominem attack on Hannity, spewing invective, talking over the host and wasting what little time he was on the air.

At one point Ellison "accused" Hannity of being a Republican. I use the word "accused" because that's the tone in which Ellison used the word, as if the Republican Party wasn't one of America's two major parties.

Ellison all but sneered the word Republican, as if being a Republican puts a person a notch below ax murderer on the moral scale.

Hannity is a registered member of the Conservative Party, and he tried to explain that to Ellison. Seemingly having an aversion to facts, Ellison persisted in calling Hannity a Republican. "You are nothing but a Republican," Ellison said at one point. Realizing that he'd probably crammed his foot down his throat on national television, Ellison tried to weasel his way out of his gaffe by moving the goal posts.

"You're a shill for Republicans," Ellison told Hannity.

Any viewer interested in getting a Democrat's take on the sequestration would never get it from this guy. Hannity finally ended the conversation.

On Sunday, CNN media critic Howard Kurtz sided with Hannity, reminding viewers of just how wrong Ellison was. The ad hominem attack is the first, last and indeed only refuge of those that have no argument whatsoever.

Kurtz corrected Ellison's second most egregious gaffe: calling Hannity "the worst excuse for a journalist I've ever seen." Kurtz reminded viewers that Hannity is a conservative commentator on a television talk show, quite a different animal from a journalist.

But Kurtz also said, quite correctly, that, later in the week, Hannity surrendered the high ground in the dispute he had with Ellison by comparing the congressman to the Ku Klux Klan.

Hannity, rather than letting Ellison's petulant rants, testy demeanor and utter disregard for the facts speak for themselves, attacked Ellison in segments of his other shows that week. At one point, Hannity whipped out the Louis Farrakhan card on Ellison. Farrakhan is the leader of the Nation of Islam. Or, more accurately, Farrakhan is the leader of one of several groups calling themselves the Nation of Islam. And trust me: Farrakhan's group is the most moderate one.

During the 1980s and much of the 1990s Farrakhan was quite the newsmaker. He was accused of being anti-Semitic, anti-white and anti-American.

On one of his shows Hannity told viewers that Ellison, while a law student, had written a couple of papers supporting Farrakhan. At one point Ellison was also involved in supporting Farrakhan's Million Man March.

But six years ago, Ellison sent a letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas apologizing for "failing to adequately scrutinize the positions and statements" of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

That sounds like mealy-mouthed drivel designed to win elections, but it's possible that Ellison is sincere. I would have much preferred Hannity inviting Ellison back on his show so the two of them might engage in a real debate.

A dead dog will roll over before that happens now. But can the good news be that the Hannity-Ellison beef is now behind us?

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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