Jan
03
2012

New Audio of Hannity's Homophobic History

Sean Hannity got his start in radio on UC Santa Barbara's KCSB in the late 1980s, where he got in trouble for promoting homophobia and disinformation about HIV and AIDS. I wrote about this in a 2003 Extra! profile of the then-Fox News show Hannity & Colmes:

After airing for less than a year, Hannity's weekly show was canceled in 1989, when KCSB management charged him with "discriminating against gays and lesbians" after airing two shows featuring the book The AIDS Coverup: The Real and Alarming Facts About AIDS (Independent, 6/22/89). Written by homophobic Christian-right activist Gene Antonio, the book crankily argued that AIDS could be spread by casual contact, including coughs, sneezes and mosquito bites. Antonio charged that the government, medical establishment and media covered up these truths in the service of "the homosexual movement."

When Antonio appeared by phone on one of the shows, Hannity and his guest repeatedly slurred gay men. At one point, according to the UCSB campus newspaper the Daily Nexus (5/25/89), Hannity declared: "Anyone listening to this show that believes homosexuality is a normal lifestyle has been brainwashed. It's very dangerous if we start accepting lower and lower forms of behavior as the normal." According to the campus paper, Antonio responded by calling gay men "a subculture of people engaged in deviant, twisted acts."

When a fellow KCSB broadcaster called the show to challenge the host and his guest, Hannity pointed out that the caller, a lesbian, had a child through artificial insemination, and Antonio dubbed the child a "turkey-baster baby." When the caller took issue with that "disgusting" remark, Hannity followed up with "I feel sorry for your child" (Independent, 6/22/89; KCSB, 4/4/89).

This information as indicated was gleaned from local Santa Barbara and UCSB print media. At the time, I was unable to get audio of Hannity's KCSB shows, a situation now remedied by KCSB programmers Elizabeth Robinson and Richard Flacks, who have packaged two of the original Hannity shows in a station archival retrospective, "50 Years of People-Powered Radio."

What Hannity said on the air more than 20 years ago would perhaps not be overly relevant today but for the fact that he has always denied being homophobic…and his homophobia continues: For instance, reacting to the 2009 Academy Awards broadcast featuring a montage of romantic film kisses (not exactly a new feature of cinema), Hannity paraphrased his wife in protesting the inclusion of same-sex kisses in the montage (Hannity, 2/23/09): "They keep showing the scenes of men kissing. And I'm thinking, do we have to expose our children to more and more sex, more and more violence, you know, more and more controversy?"

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.