This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 21, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
ANNOUNCER: This is a viewer warning. "Hannity" is intended for a free- minded, patriotic Americans. This program is not White House approved.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: All right. So remember when the president rejected talk about red states and blue states and encourage all of us to talk about the United States?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us. I say to them tonight there is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: All right. But the business of this White House is the vision and the White House's war against Fox News is the latest evidence that it will throw its principles by the wayside to ensure that everybody falls in line with their agenda.
And with the exception of Fox News, the other networks, they're receiving gold stars on their White House report cards. And the latest case in point is the Washington Post/ABC News poll that shows that 57 percent of Americans support a government health care takeover and only 40 percent oppose it.
Now a closer look at that poll explains why. Now get this. They polled 13 percent more Democrats than Republicans. Now that explains a few things. So is this the sort of left-wing span that the White House expects you to swallow? And are these the lengths that the Obamania media will go to to stay in the White House's good graces?
I guess so.
Now it should be an embarrassment to the mainstream networks that the White House is passing them on the head for following their directions but it's their job. It has been their job since this country's founding. You know to ask questions and challenge the powers that be.
But the story spreads beyond the media and Fox News is not the only target of the White House's campaign to muzzle dissent. It is merely the most recent. Now first, it was Humana. Now that's the insurance company that became the subject of a federal investigation after it failed to tow the White House line.
Now Senator Mitch McConnell had this to say about the incident last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.: Shut up, the government says. Don't communicate with your customers. Be quiet and get in line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Well, sound familiar. Well, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is receiving the same treatment from the powers that be as a result of its opposition to health care reform and the cap and tax bill. But the nation is watching the White House bully and intimidate and lawmakers are beginning to react.
Now Senator Lamar Alexander earlier today, he issued some very important words of warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, R-TENN.: I want to make what I hope will be a friendly suggestion to President Obama and his White House. And it is this. Don't create an enemies list.
If the president and his top aides treat people with different views as enemies instead of listening to what they have to say, they are likely to end up with a narrow view and a feeling that the whole world is out to get them.
And it's those of us who served in the Nixon administration know that that can get you into a lot of trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: All right, so will the White House sober up? Joining me now with reaction to all of this is somebody who knows a thing or two about the relationship between the White House and the press, Fox News contributor, Karl Rove.
Karl, welcome back. Thanks for being here.
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Sean. Great to see you.
HANNITY: All right. Let's start. Is this the equivalent, as Lamar Alexander is suggesting, of a White House enemies list?
ROVE: Well, on "Fox News Sunday" it was Chris Wallace that suggested it sure sounded like one. I mean, look, if you'd go out and call an entire news network, you know, out and basically tell the rest of the media don't emulate them, don't follow them, don't be like them or we're going to attack you, too, it's across the line.
And I want to compliment you because Robert Gibbs the other day was asked by Jake Tapper of ABC News if he thought it was appropriate and he said, come with me Jake and watch Fox at 5:00 and 9:00. Who's on at 9:00 at night that seems to get under Mr. Gibbs' skin a lot?
HANNITY: You know, I'm — actually I feel like the love hasn't been there for a while. The president mentioned me at least a dozen times in the campaign trail, so I think you've got the directive, leave Hannity alone because it's only helping his ratings and certainly his promos.
But this is a serious matter.
ROVE: It is.
HANNITY: Because they go after this group, Humana, and they literally gave a legislative gag order. They're threatening legislative retribution because of the PricewaterhouseCoopers study. We know that.
We also have the situation — remember they were trying to bully the bond holders at Chrysler? And now it's the Fox News Channel. It seems to me that, you know, this is the Chicago way, not the way that the president advertised during the campaign.
ROVE: Yes, I think you're absolutely right. This is a hardball style of politics where the message is, if you dare to oppose us, even in a mild fashion, as the health insurance industry did with the Pricewaterhouse study, we will come down hard on you.
Remember what they did there. The Pricewaterhouse study said basically some of the assumptions of the administration is not correct. Let's have an argument about the issue. And the administration responded by saying, we're going to take away the decades-old antitrust protection that the insurance industry has with a very clear message being, you come — you disagree with us, you dare to disagree with us, and we will crush you.
• Great American Blog: What do you think?
Remember during the campaign that Barack Obama was asked about the rough style of the campaign and he recalled that line from one of my favorite movies. He said, if they bring a knife, we'll bring a gun. And that's I think their attitude.
ROVE: If anybody dares to oppose us, we're going to just hammer them back, no matter how mild the opposition.
HANNITY: With the power of the government, that's a pretty profound thing. What does this say to you about the rest of the media? For example, I just referred to the Washington Post poll and I think you have some numbers that you brought with you tonight.
What does it say about them that they are not asking tough questions about the "czars"? They're not asking any questions about ACORN. They're not asking about a — the woman that got this started, Anita Dunn, you know, praising a mass murderer, Chairman Mao or some of the other controversial appointments?
What does this say about the media? What does it say about their lack of questioning?
ROVE: Yes. Yes, well, look, I think the jury is yet out on that. I think one of the reasons that the Obama White House undertook this offensive against Fox News was it saw that the Van Jones issue and the ACORN issue might be tipping points and they were beginning to get a lot of contact back, I suspect, from what I'm hearing, from members of White House press corps that gave them a sense that they had a —that this, you know, compliant press corps was about ready to become very restive and would start asking tough questions.
And I think they did this as a pre-emptive move that basically signal don't be following — don't follow anything that Fox covers. And remember, if you do something that we find to be embarrassing, we're going to respond to you the same way we did.
ROVE: I did think it was interesting. I have to compliment Jake Tapper of ABC News. He has — look, that guy came out of a left-wing background. Opinion background. He was, I think, a journalist for like, Mother Jones or some left-wing publication.
But he asked a very tough question of Gibbs the other day and it took a little bit of spine to do so.
ROVE: I hope that others in the media -– the media cover it. But we are — we're seeing this pop up in unusual places, Sean.
HANNITY: All right.
ROVE: New York Times.
HANNITY: Yes — no. I would think every media outlet would come to Fox's defense, knowing that they could be next. But I know you brought numbers. I want to make sure we get this in before we have to let you go.
ROVE: Yes. Well, real quick. Look, I think you made a good point about the ABC/Washington Post poll. It was Friday — it included Friday nights and Saturday night polling which his more Democratic leaning. It was adults, non voters, party ideas, very volatile in polling and you need to control forth.
But one of the other things is asking the question. In the Washington Post/ABC poll, they've got 57 percent of the people who said that they agreed with the proposition, that we ought to have a new health insurance plan that compete with private insurance. 57 percent of the people agreed with that.
Gallup, out in the field at roughly the same time said, do you believe in a public-government-run insurance plan that compete with private insurance? That got 50 percent.
So sometimes the wording of the question is important. And in the ABC poll, they'd asked that question earlier and it was 55 percent. And somehow or another they turned the difference between a 55 percent poll sometime ago and a 57 percent poll today into a big deal.
And when it did not put the big headline, which was that 45 percent of the people in the polls supported health care as proposed by President Obama and 48 percent opposed it with 26 strongly supporting, and 36 percent strongly opposing.
So I mean, you know, it was a nothing story and they missed the real news.
HANNITY: All right. And there's been two other polls that showed us the deficits where more Americans oppose it. In one case, by 12 points, in other case by 9 points. So — I'm sorry, by 19. So when you ask the question right, it makes a big difference.
Karl Rove, as always.
ROVE: It sure does.
HANNITY: Thanks for being with us.
ROVE: Thank you, Sean. Appreciate it.
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