Hannity's unfortunate role in the Democratic debate

Stephanopoulos' question about the Weather Underground came from a Fox News personality.

Published April 17, 2008 2:59PM (EDT)

When I first started noticing blog headlines about far-right Fox News personality Sean Hannity feeding George Stephanopoulos questions for last night's debate, I thought it was a metaphorical point. As in, "Some of the questions were so bad, they may as well have come from Sean Hannity."

I came to realize, though, that the concerns were literal. Jason Linkins explained:

The unseen influence of Fox News wormed its way into tonight's nominally ABC-hosted debate, when Senator Barack Obama was asked to account for his tenuous connections to former Weather Underground leader William Ayers, who famously began a New York Times article with this statement: ''I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough.''

The question was posed by George Stephanopoulos, who neither conceived of the question himself, nor disclosed the primary source of his donated inquiry: Fox News talking head Sean Hannity. [...]

Hannity asked George what kinds of questions they'll be asking at the debate tomorrow and they discussed a few things. When Hannity asked about the first question below about Ayers and whether George had plans to ask such a question, George replied, "Well, I'm taking notes now Sean." It did actually sound like he was pausing to take notes.

ThinkProgress has the audio.

When Hannity is feeding Stephanopoulos ideas for debate questions, you know you're watching a journalistic problem.

By Steve Benen

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