Friday, February 09, 2007

Schlussel vs Hannity

La Shawn Barber calls attention to this claim by Debbie Schlussel that Sean Hannity is using her work without attribution:

Readers of my work and of this site know that I risked my life to go undercover to Hezbollah events and rallies in Dearbornistan to bring you exclusive info on Al-Husainy, the man who delivered the invocation on Friday at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting. And that I've been writing about Al-Husainy since the beginning of year and before (in the Wall Street Journal).

[...]

The first night, Tuesday Night, I contacted Sean on his cellphone. He was, as usual, "too busy" and couldn't be bothered to do the right thing. He admitted he knew he used my work uncredited, and I managed to get him to promise to have me on to discuss my original work, he said, "if we talk about this again on the show." I also suggested having Al-Husainy, himself, on along with myself, since I'm only the single commentator who actually knows something--actually, a lot--about him. Sean promised that if they had the imam on, he and John Finley would have me on, too.

But, as is usual for Sean these days, he did not keep his word. Last night, not only did they rip my work off again, but they questioned it (without mentioning my name or allowing me to be on to defend it). Suddenly, Hannity was saying Al-Husainy "reportedly" was at pro-Hezbollah rallies, and Colmes claimed, "We've been unable to confirm that," and questioned my New York Post column's accuracy.

Well, that's interesting to me--they never attempted to "confirm" this in the least. Since I'm the source of the info--I WAS THERE AT THOSE RALLIES and wrote about it in the New York Post column they ripped off--why didn't they contact me? [...]

There is much more, but this is the substance of the claim. Since I don't watch TV, I didn't see the show (and probably wouldn't have been watching it anyway) and I can't see a link to a transcript on Hannity's site, I can't tell if these charges are accurate. La Shawn specifically says in her comments that she hasn't tried to contact Hannity for confirmation and strongly implies that she isn't inclined to do so. But this seems like a serious enough charge that a little more research is worthwhile.

A quick Google News search on "Al-Husainy" yeilds several stories, most of which credit Schlussel. Just counting the first page of 10 results, I found the following breakdown:
4 by Cal Thomas who cites Schlussel.
2 by Paul Barrett who supports Al-Husainy and is therefore irrelevant to our topic.
2 by David Limbaugh who cites Schlussel (but links to a story that does not).
1 by Robert Spencer who does.
1 by News Hounds blogger Ellen who attacks Hannity but doesn't mention Schlussel.

So, out of 10 or 11 stories that popped up on a 0.14 second search, only one comes from a relevant source that doesn't cite Schlussel. It seems that we can conclude two things: 1) Major conservative commentators (Cal Thomas, Robert Spencer and David Limbaugh, to say nothing of La Shawn herself) recognize Debbbie Schlussel as a prime source on this subject and 2) Hannity's failure to acknowledge this is at least a breach of courtesy. It may be that he is getting his info from sources that are not themselves properly attributed, but that is no excuse for someone with Sean Hannity's resources. If I can find this out in a few minutes, he certainly can.

I have tried contacting Hannity, but so far have (unsurprisingly) not received a reply. Others with more clout should take up the question. It must be admitted that Debbie Schlussel's posts on this subject are shrill and abrasive, which may be counter productive in generating sympathy for her complaint. But there is a principle of conservative integrity here that I think it is in all of our interests to defend.

UPDATE: Evidently my idea of posting comments on this issue in the hannity.com forum has been blocked by the moderators:
And Reader Paul tells me that the chat portion of his site, Hannity.com, has been erasing threads where plenty of my readers (a/k/a Sean Vanity's former, now-disenchanted fans) are posting about how Sean ripped me off. All of those readers are getting banned for the reason of "Contempt of Host."
She only cites one instance, so I can't tell if this is indeed a pattern, but here is the email:
[...]
THREAD: CONTROVERSY
"I just signed up for this forum and noticed no postings about Debbie Schlussel and her complaints against Sean? Curious if they're being removed or I'm simply missing them? It'd be interesting to hear Sean's comments regarding the issue."

ONE PERSON REPLIED AND THEY SAID SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF: No one other then Debbies family and friends pay any attention to her.

I THEN REPLIED BACK: Evidentally Sean does and he's not a family member. Rush gives her credit for her work. I'll save you further embarassment by not mentioning others. Let's stick to the Sean issue. Your reply was cute but flawed.

All within a half hour I checked back again and I couldn't access the site. Check out the message I got:

You have been banned for the following reason:
contempt of host
Date the ban will be lifted: Never
Hannity.com
[Unnecessary line breaks removed.]

I still haven't been able to get my account validated on hannity.com so I can't do any primary research, but this doesn't look good. I am having a hard time understanding Hannity's motivation in all of this. How much would it cost him to give a simple acknowledgment of his sources? Even if, per my speculation above, he didn't originally get the information directly from Schlussel, it only makes sense to give her credit after the fact, especially compared to the cost in credibility and good will for failing to do so. Pride goeth before a fall...

UPDATE: Michael Reagan gives proper credit on the Hannity show. Well, this is better than nothing, but I am still disappointed.

2 comments:

foxy said...

FWIW, the reason I didn't include Schlussel in my post is because I didn't know about it at the time I put it up. I did think of amending the post but it's not really relevant to the point of my post.

However, I'm enjoying the controversy and may post about it at a future time.

FYI, Hannity had another go-round with Al-Husainy on Hannity & Colmes Friday night. It was taped from his radio show earlier in the day. If I understood correctly, there will be more on his Sunday show.

Jack said...

Foxy:
Thanks for the comments, but I can't tell what post you are referring to. Are you one of the people I linked to above? The link to your blogger profile doesn't show your blog.