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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: walker

Hannity Hosts Fake 'Town Hall' For Walker After He Skips Debate

Fox News host Sean Hannity turned his prime-time show into a full-on campaign rally Monday night for Republican U.S. Senate nominee Herschel Walker, after the former football star had skipped an official debate Sunday night. Walker’s appearance with Hannity was hastily announced Sunday evening, as incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) prepared to face Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver (and an empty lectern in place of Walker) on the debate stage in Atlanta.

The episode of Hannity was officially billed as a “town hall,” a label that the host used multiple times during the hour. But attendees in the audience never actually asked any questions of the candidate, instead simply delivering applause at various moments and engaging in call-and-response routines with Hannity or other speakers.

To be clear, this was simply a campaign rally for Walker, organized and promoted by Hannity and Fox News, and featuring special guests such as Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott from neighboring South Carolina. (Hannity closed out the program by promoting another supposed “town hall” episode of his show scheduled for Wednesday, featuring Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Mehmet Oz — another candidate whose campaign Hannity was instrumental in boosting — as well as Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, a favorite of far-right media.)

Walker’s appearance with Hannity followed his participation in another debate that took place Friday, which is likely to be the only televised face-off between the two major-party candidates in the Peach State. During that debate, when Warnock made comments about Walker’s documented history of violence, including when he had threatened a “shoot-out with police,” Walker responded by producing an honorary “prop” police badge from his jacket pocket as alleged proof of his close relationship with Georgia law enforcement.

Walker appeared on Hannity on Monday after he didn’t attend Sunday’s debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club. Hannity opened the pseudo-“town hall” with Walker by declaring that Sunday’s debate was an attempted “ambush,” citing an article in the right-wing Washington Free Beacon that attacked some of the organization’s members who had donated to Democratic candidates in 2020. (The debate moderator was radio host Scott Slade, who has been a fixture of Georgia political news for more than 50 years.)

Dismissing other media coverage, Hannity further declared that “in Friday night's debate, Herschel Walker proved them all wrong and he won that debate,” followed by a clips reel of Walker speaking on stage. (Walker has actually been widely lampooned for his stunt involving the prop badge, a moment that Hannity’s team did not include in the clips reel.)

Of course, Hannity’s protests of alleged press bias for Democrats really ought to ring alarm bells for anyone who has observed both Hannity and Fox News in general.

Hannity is a longtime political operative who practically recruited Walker into the Georgia Senate race, and he has repeatedly used his show to promote other Republican candidates in the midterm elections. In addition, the rest of Fox News also helped pick the Republican Senate candidates while burying negative stories about Walker in its running coverage.

The pseudo-“town hall” was also marked by Hannity feeding Walker talking points for their discussion. Following Hannity’s lengthy opening monologue, the host finally brought the candidate onto the show around 10 minutes into the program, then proceeded to recount a conversation the two supposedly had about Walker’s dedication to public service. (Walker didn’t remember it.)

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): So, I told you before you ran, I said, this is going to get ugly, they’re going to attack you, they’re going to smear you, they’re going to slander you. And do you remember what you said to me?

HERSCHEL WALKER: No.

HANNITY: You said to me, “Sean, I have fought my whole life, and they can do whatever they want. But I’m going to go and be the — I'm going to go be a public servant for the people of Georgia.”

The campaign rally atmosphere continued midway through the program, when Graham and Scott joined the stage, urging viewers to help elect a Republican Senate majority.

“If we want to help Georgians and all of America, let's start winning the majority right here in Georgia,” said Scott.

Graham also repeatedly asked viewers to go to Walker’s campaign site and donate money. “TeamHerschel.com, folks,” he said. “Help this man.” (Graham’s plea for contributions from Fox’s audience is nothing new; he was notorious for begging for donations to his own campaign during appearances on Fox in 2020.)

During this entire programming block that lasted nearly 15 minutes, Walker began speaking for himself only at around the six-and-a-half minute mark, after lengthy partisan jeremiads from the other men.

Hannity later revved up Walker, and the crowd, by asking a series of simple, loaded questions toward the end of the block, essentially directing the candidate to accept the policy agenda being handed to him live on-air.

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): If you're elected, you're promising the people of Georgia — I want to make sure I'm right — lower taxes, controlled borders, re-fund the police, get rid of this —

HERSCHEL WALKER: Energy independence.

HANNITY: — idiotic no-bail laws.

WALKER: Yes.

HANNITY: You will support energy independence.

WALKER: Yes.

HANNITY: And you will support reading, writing, math, history, science —

WALKER: Yes.

HANNITY: And get rid of the woke agenda.

WALKER: Yes. And our military — I want to continue to say I will support —

GRAHAM: Amen.

WALKER: — our military because our military is our strength.

SCOTT: Amen.

WALKER: And we have to continue to support our military.

An analysis by Media Matters found that Walker himself only spoke for roughly 8 minutes — in what was supposedly a “town hall” with the candidate. Hannity, by contrast, had 19 minutes of speaking time. Another way of looking at this is that Walker’s speaking time was still less than the combined total for the other two major guests, Graham and Scott, who collectively spoke for 9 minutes. (All times were rounded to the nearest minute.)

By comparison, in the hourlong debate that Walker skipped Sunday night, a count by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that Warnock and Oliver dominated the speaking time, distantly followed by the moderators.

Hannity’s TV episode with Walker, by contrast, perfectly illustrates a propaganda display that featured a candidate for public office only as a supporting character on the show.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Walker Fits Pattern Of Anti-Choice Republicans Who Allegedly Paid For Abortions

The Daily Beast reported on Monday that in 2009, Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker allegedly paid for a woman he got pregnant to have an abortion.

Walker has denied the Beast's reporting, calling the story a "flat-out lie" and a "repugnant hatchet job" and threatening to sue the news outlet for defamation.

During his Senate campaign, Walker has alluded to the idea that abortion should be banned in all circumstances, including when the life of the pregnant person is at risk.

"There's no exception in my mind," Walker told reporters in May. "Like I say, I believe in life. I believe in life."

The Beast’s story is an “October Surprise” for the Georgia Senate race, which finds Democrats fighting to hold on to the seat that Sen. Raphael Warnock won in a special election in January 2021.

Walker isn't the first Republican whose public stance on abortion rights has conflicted with his alleged private actions.

Two other Republicans running in November have been accused of either paying for or encouraging women in their lives to have abortions despite claiming to oppose the procedure.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) allegedly encouraged both his wife and his lover to get abortions. DesJarlais has said he is "100% pro-life."

In the final days of the 2012 election, a transcript of an undated phone conversation between DesJarlais and his ex-wife before their divorce was finalized in 2001 became public.

"You told me you'd have an abortion, and now we're getting too far along without one," DesJarlais allegedly told his wife. "If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let's do it."

DesJarlais won reelection in 2012 against a Democrat in his heavily Republican district. In 2014, he faced a primary challenge from a Republican state legislator and eked out a win by just 38 votes. DesJarlais has comfortably won reelection since then.

Then there's Mike Erickson, the Republican nominee in Oregon's newly created Sixth Congressional District.

In the early 2000s, Erickson allegedly drove his girlfriend to a doctor's office and paid $300 for her to get an abortion.

The revelation first came to light in 2008, when Erickson ran a failed campaign for Congress on a "pro-life" platform. He's now running for Congress again against a pro-abortion rights Democrat in a race rated a "tilt Democratic" contest by Inside Elections.

A fourth self-described "pro-life" Republican ended up resigning from Congress in 2017 after reports surfaced that he had encouraged a woman with whom he had had an affair to get an abortion.

Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania resigned after a text message from the woman leaked. She told Murphy that he had "zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options."

Murphy allegedly encouraged the woman to have an abortion, despite being a member of the House "Pro-Life Caucus" and despite having voted for a national abortion ban.

Abortion is a major issue in the 2022 midterm elections. This summer, the Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which had affirmed the constitutional right to an abortion before fetal viability, around 24 weeks gestation.

Polling shows that most Americans disagree with the court's decision and think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Democrats have been hammering GOP candidates on the airwaves for their opposition to abortion.

In Georgia, a Quinnipiac poll found that abortion rights are at the top of voters' minds. That same poll found Warnock leading Walker 52 percent to 46 percent.

A poll published Tuesday by NARAL Pro-Choice America found that 62 percent of Georgia voters oppose the overturning of Roe.

Inside Elections rates the Georgia Senate race a "toss-up" contest.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds State’s Domestic Partner Registry

By Dana Ferguson and Jason Stein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MADISON, Wisc. — The Wisconsin Supreme Court Thursday unanimously upheld a 2009 law providing limited benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

The law established a registry system for same-sex couples to report their domestic partnerships to county clerks and in turn receive rights such as hospital visitation, medical leave, and inheritance.

The state’s highest court ruled that these partnerships do not violate a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions with a legal status that is “substantially similar” to heterosexual marriage. The amendment was approved by Wisconsin voters in 2006 by 59 percent to 41 percent.

“The framers of the amendment intended specifically to allow legislation that provided a set of rights and benefits to same-sex couples. We are supported in our conclusion by evidence that voters were repeatedly told by amendment proponents that the amendment simply would not preclude a mechanism for legislative grants of certain rights to same-sex couples,” N. Patrick Crooks wrote for the majority.

Laurel Patrick, a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, said Walker would “continue to administer state law.” But she did not respond to a question about Walker’s decision not to defend the 2009 domestic partnership law.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen released a statement Thursday regarding the three decisions issued by the state’s highest court. In that statement Van Hollen did not acknowledge why he did not defend the domestic partnership law.

Van Hollen said in an exclusive interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last month that the domestic partnership law is the only one he has declined to defend other than for reasons of conflict of interest in his more than seven year tenure. He went on to call the law “frivolous.”

“I believe the courts are wrong. I believe it’s indefensible,” Van Hollen said of the rulings in the case. ” If someone else could come up with a colorable argument then they should be the ones to defend it.”

Joe Zepecki, campaign manager for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, said in a statement Thursday that Burke would defend that law.

“She supports the freedom of committed, loving couples to have hospital visitation, medical leave, and inheritance rights, as well as the freedom to marry whomever they choose,” Zepecki said of Burke.

The state decision is crucial for now for the state’s same-sex couples, but it could well be pushed aside in a matter of weeks or months by federal courts wrestling with the question of legalizing gay marriage.

If Wisconsin’s marriage ban and those of other states are ultimately struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, then this state domestic partners decision would appear largely moot. But if the federal courts ultimately uphold the state bans, then the state partner benefits case would have a more lasting effect in Wisconsin.

In 2009, Gov. Jim Doyle and Democrats then in charge of the Legislature approved the measure providing benefits to same-sex couples.

In 2010, Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action — a social conservative group that four years earlier had helped push through the gay marriage ban — sued over the registries, arguing they violated the state constitution by approximating marriage.

Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, both Republicans, agreed and refused to defend the law. Defenders of the partner benefits took up the case, arguing that they stopped well short of marriage in areas such as adoption rights.

Lester Pines, a Democratic attorney who for a time served as the lawyer defending the registry on behalf of the state, said the unanimous ruling by a conservative-dominated court to uphold the law called into question the decision by Van Hollen and Walker not to defend it.

Appling’s lawsuit was rejected in 2011 by Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser and in 2012 by the state District 4 Court of Appeals.

“We’re disappointed the court didn’t agree with us,” Appling said of the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday. “But we’re glad they recognized the importance here that marriage in Wisconsin is between one man and one woman.”

Photo: sigmaration via Flickr

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