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Friday, 28 May 2010 03:18

FOX Not-So-Legal Team Overreaching with Joe Sestak

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by Jeffrey Joseph

Recently, Joe Sestak managed to win out against Arlen Specter for a chance to run as the Democratic candidate from Pennsylvania even though Specter held the backing of the president. In and of itself, Sestak’s victory should have made a large enough story. Nonetheless, the incredibly biased team at FOX News aimed to make an even bigger story out of an alleged job offer from President Obama to Sestak in return for dropping out of the primary with cries of “impeachment” thrown about, but with those calls tellingly originating from a team with little legal expertise.

One of the earliest commentators to cry foul in the Sestak case, Dick Morris went on Sean Hannity’s program to report the situation as potentially “a high crime and misdemeanor.” Hannity wanted to take it a step further and asked if it was an “impeachable offense,” to which Morris replied, “Absolutely.”

However, both Morris and Hannity have little legal background to support such a bold claim. Morris’s association with the law hardly comes closer than the scandal that erupted and cost him his job when he reportedly spent time with a prostitute. Likewise, Hannity has a scandal of his own looming over him regarding an FTC complaint alleging Hannity’s preferred charity, Freedom Works, is little more than a “scam.” Otherwise, Morris and Hannity both lack any educational background in law or its related matters, so their claims are hard to take seriously.

Karl Rove, former Bush political strategist and FOX contributor, also railed against the Obama Administration for what he considered a breach of federal code in offering Sestak a position. The federal code Rove cites mentions a prohibition against “interfering with the nomination or election for office,” something Rove most certainly did himself in asking Tim Pawlenty not to run for a Senate seat years ago in favor of Norm Coleman. Besides that equally questionable feat, Rove also has little room to point fingers considering his involvement with the Valerie Plame scandal from years ago. Rove may have escaped indictment, but former press secretary Scott McClellan has since confirmed Rove’s part in outing CIA agent Plame, jeopardizing her work in Iran apparently to score political points.

Perhaps the only person on FOX’s payroll with legal ground to soundly make claims of impropriety is Judge Andrew Napolitano. Napolitano, though, tellingly could not commit one way or the other. As he told FOX & Friends, “If it was, ‘Are you interested in a job in the administration?’ End of conversation. Not a crime. If it was a quid pro quo, as you suggested, ‘Are you interested in a high-ranking job in the administration if you leave Arlen Specter alone?’ That is an attempted bribe.” Napolitano proceeded to speculate on hypotheticals about how high up in the administration it went, but without enough information to support the situation’s illegality either way, he proved hardly convincing.

People not within the FOX bias circle had a very different reaction to the news. A former federal prosecutor and executive director of nonpartisan legal watchdog group CREW, Melanie Sloan simply stated, “People offer members of Congress things all the time,” and that “I don’t think there is any issue. I don’t see the crime.” Furthermore, Ron Kaufman, a political director for President George H.W. Bush, acknowledged ethics had taken a greater priority in the public sphere now than in the past, but he still dismissed the allegations, telling the New York Times, “Tell me a White House that didn’t do this, back to George Washington.”

It seems the majority of those clamoring on FOX for further investigation into the legality of the alleged Sestak job offer have jaded legal histories of their own, waffle on asserting its illegality, or simply push the anti-Obama agenda on FOX that led one Republican to say, “I don’t know what they’re doing at FOX News, but they should stop smoking it and get back to reporting the facts.”

Viewers should tell FOX the same: If it wants to be taken seriously as a news organization, it should get to “reporting the facts” rather than unsupported speculation — and in the meantime, choose to Turn Off FOX.

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Originally posted at Turn Off FOX.