NJ blogger Hal Turner made headlines for years, threatening federal judges and police using harsh White Supremacy rhetoric. He finally received a 33 month prison sentence last year for inciting violence against three Illinois judges.
A former frequent caller to the Sean Hannity radio show, Turner was disowned by Hannity when the scandal hit, despite Turner’s insistence they were closer than Hannity admitted.
Hannity was left bereft, caught in blatant unprincipled hypocrisy live on network TV following a 2008 presidential debate telecast in which Hannity tried to smear candidate Obama over his associations with ‘radicals’ Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright – but Hannity had just promoted the views of Andy Martin, a virulent anti-semite. At that time, Robert Gibbs who exposed this, didn’t even bring up Hannity’s past associations with Turner, far more intimate than his ties to Martin according to Turner.
In coverage of Turner’s recent legal defense statements on additional charges, The Hudson Reporter brought up Hannity’s denial of their friendship again but it was an article in NorthJersey.com that brought out even more damaging claims by Turner and his counsel. For example, he said his words were not unlike exuberant fans at a ballgame yelling “kill the ump!” but then also said his actions were similar to Sarah Palin placing gun scope crosshairs on the Democratic leaders she wanted challenged. Surely Turner knew one of Palin’s targets was actually attacked in a murderous shooting rampage, making it perhaps the worst example of legal argumentation in history — Palin herself came under enormous criticism for inciting the unhinged among us to violence. Could he expect better from a government-provided public defender? Wait, there’s more.
Turner argued that other radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh use inflammatory language to get their points across. But prosecutors argued that Palin’s crosshairs were political hyperbole, while Turner’s calls for action were literal, direct and personal, including the addresses of his targets.
In 2003, Turner said a federal judge he didn’t like was “worthy of being killed” and two years later, the judge found her husband and mother murdered in her home. Turner then applauded the action, saying he wasn’t sure he influenced the killer but he was pleased that his on-air violence was “a tool available to me.” Turner faces another 3 to 30 years if convicted on the new charges.
Hannity’s on-air language has flirted with calls for violence. For example, this past May Hannity advised parents in a hypothetical kidnapping scenario to torture suspects, going outside the law to extract information by burning their flesh in violation of their Constitutional right to due process and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. His advice would likely further endanger the child, who could be killed in retribution. The child would surely have less support if her parent was incarcerated for violent assault just when they were needed the most. So far, Hannity has not been cautioned for broadcasting this type of call to vigilantism.
Hannity also has repeatedly called for the bombing of Iran, which in all likelihood would lead to massive retribution, civilian casualties and insane debt spending, just as Iran’s people are making an unprecedented internal struggle for democracy. If audio of Hannity making these claims is obtained by the Iranian regime, it could seriously complicate the conditions of American detainees in Iran or harm the ongoing diplomatic process.
For his part, Rush Limbaugh announced on a December 2008 show that drivers of SUVs should approach hybrids on the roads and “buzz” them, to show who’s boss of the road. Though not necessarily an overt call for violence against treehuggers, it’s sure dangerously irresponsible broadcasting for any FCC licensee.