When it comes to the Wisconsin union fights, right-wing pundits Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have a couple of things in common. For starters, have all voiced their opposition to the plight of public employee unions in the state.
On Feb. 18, Limbaugh said on his radio program, “We are either on the side of the Wisconsin protesters or we are on the side of our country.” Hannity has featured several guests critical of the union and its supporters, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, on his Fox News television and radio shows.
On the Feb. 18 edition of “The O’Reilly Factor,” O’Reilly stated, “Governments can’t afford to operate” because of “union wages and benefits.” But it turns out that opposing workers’ rights isn’t the only thing these blowhards have in common.
As it turns out, all three of them belong to the American Federation Television and Radio Artists union (AFTRA), which is the AFL-CIO affiliate for television and broadcast workers.
Yes, you read that right. While Hannity, O’Reilly and Limbaugh have been railing against union workers in Wisconsin, all three of them belong to an AFL-CIO affiliate union.
A report voted to the front page of Reddit Friday claimed that Hannity, Limbaugh and O’Reilly were union members, as well as Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter. Right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin called it the “stupid lie of the week,” insisting that neither she nor the “other Fox News personalities being accused of ‘hypocrisy’ belong to the union.” As one might expect, Malkin didn’t know what she was talking about and the liberals were right (she herself, as just a frequent guest on the network, is not a member of the union).
A representative from Beck’s camp denied the claim, but a source within AFTRA confirmed to AlterNet Friday that O’Reilly, Limbaugh and Hannity were indeed union members.
When asked, AFTRA reps wouldn’t state whether the three were members, but it did say in an official
statement (see the entire statement below):
"[N]otwithstanding the union’s publicly stated position on a given issue, including the attack on public sector union members currently unfolding in Wisconsin and elsewhere around the nation AFTRA fully supports the First Amendment right to free speech of all Americans, including that of any AFTRA member who wishes to express an opinion that may differ from that of AFTRA."