This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to this special studio audience edition of "Hannity." Tonight, I am joined by group of political commentators, journalists and authors to discuss a very important topic, that being the president's autobiography, titled "Dreams from My Father," a story of race and inheritance.
Now, although this book was published way back in 1995, the mainstream media is only just beginning to pay attention to some of its explosive content. And trust me, it goes well beyond eating dog meat.
And so, over the next hour, we're going to help the Obama administration's allies and the press, doing some of their own work for them. And we're going to systematically walk through this controversial book; we're going to let you hear from the president -- it's in his own words.
And here to help kick things off, our studio audience, many of whom I'm sure you recognize, welcome all. Thank you for being here. Let me just start with the show of hands. Do we all agree, probably in the course of this campaign, the top issue is going to be the economy? Anyone disagree? You disagree? Economy? All right. We all agree.
Second biggest issue, national security? Disagree, Michelle? Everybody agrees, national security.
Third biggest issue, Obama's record. Right? As president, OK. Because that brings us to those that would be critical of going back and maybe trying to understand the president a little better. What motivates him? Where does his thought process come from? In other words, why did he never show a pragmatic side, a triangulation, like say Bill Clinton, the end of welfare as we know it, the era of big government is over. Questions I would like to know. I would think for purely political purposes the president might want to do that.
So, that leads us to this question. Erik Rush, I want to start with you. You broke the story on Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We have now this book, we are going to be playing excerpts all night tonight. Why is this important?
ERIK RUSH, AUTHOR AND COLUMNIST: Well, I think it's important because you can extrapolate from the sorts of thoughts that he had during his formative years, early adulthood, the people he associated with, and extrapolate that out to the kinds of decisions he has made as president, how it's affected the economy, how we get along with each other, every facet of our society seems to have been deleteriously affected by various things that you can look at going all the way back to, you know, Trinity United Church of Christ, for example, Reverend Wright, the people that he hung out within college, in his own words, and this sort of policies that he has now and what the effects of them.
HANNITY: All right. Do we all agree -- does anybody here think the media in 2008, up until today has done a good job vetting the president? Anybody think that? Nobody.
DAVID BOSSIE, "OCCUPY UNMASKED": All right. Of course, the media fell in love with Barack Obama. They -- part of the left-wing establishment media wanted Barack Obama desperately to be president. And that's what we got. We got a glossing over of his record. At the same time, we got a delving into John McCain's record, who served this country admirably and everybody kind of knew.
Now, in 2012, when you asked these types of questions, everybody in the mainstream media's going to say, what are you talking about? Of course, we already know these things and they are going to try to really triangulate against these questions even being asked.
HANNITY: And by the way, you are demonized of course because of the Citizens United case, David Bossie (ph) -- David you work for Breitbart.com.
DAVID BANNON, BREITBART NEWS EXEC. CHAIR: To be fair, that's one of the reasons we have this series called the vetting. And one of the reasons we have it, to be fair, the McCain campaign, one of the responsibilities of a presidential campaign is to both lay out your agenda, what you attend to do. But also to vet the candidates. Like in golf, when you protect the field as a player. The McCain campaign systematically failed. They made the decision, they talked about that. They did not take on President Obama on anything that happened before he was a state senator in Illinois. And Steve Schmidt has been on record for saying that. So, the president was never vetted in 2008 and that's one of the reasons at Breitbart --
HANNITY: Sarah Palin, interestingly, thought it was a mistake.
BANNON: Big mistake.
HANNITY: All right. Now, this week, Mitt Romney came out and said, for example, Sol, that the issue of Reverend Jeremiah Wright's off the table.
SOL STERN, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Yes. I think he was right on that. I think that's an issue that ought to be dealt with by commentators, pressure should be put on.
HANNITY: That's your job Hannity, that's Breitbart's job.
STERN: Absolutely. Another reason I think the Romney shouldn't handle it is because the reality is, as bad as the relationship with the Reverend Wright was, he has not governed as president as a candidate of black liberation theology.
HANNITY: Yes. Which is Marxist socialism.
STERN: Cornel West is a follower of black liberation theology and he hates Obama and he feels Obama betrayed him. So, I think it's a very slippery thing because what Obama does very well is -- he's a performance artist. That's what the book's about. I have many identities. You know, I am the first Jewish president. I am the first great president. I'm the first environmentalist president and all that.
HANNITY: That's what Newsweek said. Well, this brings us to the point. Let's go to some of the book, which we are going to be interspersing throughout the program tonight. First, I think which is foremost important. The president says in his own words that he stands by the stories in the book. In other words, which he narrates often himself. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "DREAMS FROM MY FATHER," PAGE 9)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA : I cannot honestly say that the voice in this book is not mine. But I would tell the story much differently today than I did 10 years ago, even if certain passages have proven to be inconvenient politically, the grist for political commentary and opposition research.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HANNITY: All right. Now, he says -- all right. That's his comments about the book. Now let's start with, imagine if Mitt Romney was on tape admitting that he attended school sparingly, he was drinking heavily and did drugs enthusiastically. Let's imagine for a minute, this is Mitt Romney saying this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "DREAMS FROM MY FATHER," PAGE 94)
OBAMA: I spent the last two years of high school in a daze, locking away the questions that life seemed insistent on posing. I kept playing basketball, attended classes sparingly, drank beer heavily and tried drugs enthusiastically. I discovered that it didn't make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate's sparkling new van or in the dorm room with some brother you've met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HANNITY: All right. Show of hands. How many think that's important? You are halfhearted. Go ahead.
DAVID FREDDOSO, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: It's, you know, it's as important as Mitt Romney bullying a kid when he was 14 years old. Obama was a little bit older. You know, both things are of limited use. It is an interesting part of his history. It's something that he says he has gotten beyond. He has said so long ago. It's an interesting part of who he is.
HANNITY: Dr. King?
DR. ALVEDA KING, NIECE OF DR. KING, JR.: We have all done things in our past. But the remorse or the," I really wish I hadn't done that, that was a mistake. I am all grown up now and I'm ready to lead this country responsibly and I want to build family. I want to build marriage. I want to protect everybody, the young and the old and the elderly." That's what I would really like to hear. But to say, I did all this and so now, I just want to do some more things that are in the same pattern.
HANNITY: It was interesting because when he would go to this comedy shows, and they'd say, did you inhale? Well, that was the point, Jay. I see, yes, David Webb.
DAVID WEBB, SIRIUS XM PATRIOT HOST: Here's the thing we have to realize about this. I agree that the issue is not the top issue. That's clear.
HANNITY: We all agree on that.
WEBB: Right. But it's the evolution of the human being. We all do things when we are young, we evolve as we become adults. Does Obama evolve from irresponsible behavior into responsible governance as a president? The fact is we have seen an ideologue that was in his formative years that is acting as president as he was in his formative years and you don't get that from a governance and policy point of view.
And my other caution, back to the earlier question is, stop getting into the wrong argument. Don't let them lead us into the top, you're asking about the top issues. Stay on those issues, if you are Romney. Let the commentators, the media, those of us that are responsible, talk to the people of America about the other issues.
HANNITY: But here's what's fascinating to me. When I first played that tape, he has been president almost four years, do you know how many people told me they had never heard it? Never heard it! Yes, real quick, Pam.
PAMELA GELLER, AUTHOR AND BLOGGER: This is all one piece. This is one insignificant piece of a puzzle that we know about, since 2008. My Obama book, I wrote in 2008, the background, Indonesia, growing up, in Jakarta, the AP sitting on the story, the school record where his religion was Islam, what shaped him, what makes him Islamophiliac (ph), the abandonment of Israel. This is all of a piece.
Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.