Perhaps the loudest voice in the Wright controversy has belonged to Fox News's Sean Hannity. No one in the media has been more insistent that a politician's choice of pastor is relevant to the campaign; and I cannot think of anyone more outraged by Wright and more determined that this should be a defining issue in discussing the candidacy of Obama. It seems to me worth pointing out therefore that Hannity himself had a candidate in this race not so long ago, and even headlined a fundraiser for him. That candidate was Rudy Giuliani.
It also happens that Giuliani has long been more attached to a pastor than even Obama is to Wright. Monsignor Alan Placa married Giuliani to his second wife, Donna Hanover, and is actually employed by Giuliani Associates. Placa has been credibly accused of serial molestation of teenage boys, was in charge of handling molestation accusations in Long Island in the heyday of the church's cover-up of child abuse and was eventually suspended by the church from priestly duties for those reasons. The credible charges were made after the statute of limitations had passed and so no legal recourse was possible. But here's the Associated Press last year:
"There's ample evidence showing that Placa consistently protected predators, shrewdly deceived victims, and covered up horrific clergy sex crimes," said a statement from David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Last year, theocon Deal Hudson reported that:
The grand jury report includes excerpts from a letter in which Placa brags about his ability to settle multi-million dollar clergy abuse claims for "$20,000 to $100,000."... The suspension of Placa's priestly duties has now reached the five-year point, far beyond the norm in such cases.
Here was Giuliani's response when challenged about his continuing association:
"I know the man; I know who he is, so I support him. We give some of the worst people in our society the presumption of innocence and benefit of the doubt. And, of course, I'm going to give that to one of my closest friends."
How many hours did Sean Hannity dedicate to this story of his own candidate's long-running association with and knowing employment of a priest who was an accused child molester?
This blogger reports one moment last December on Hannity's radio talk show relevant to this issue. When a caller said she could not support Giuliani for president:
Hannity went ballistic, carrying on about how he’s the best on crime, talked about his handling of 9/11, etc. The caller interrupted him and told him that she could never vote for Giuliani because he has an alleged child molester on his staff.
Again Hannity exploded, telling her that he knew the priest was innocent.
In this campaign, as Ron Paul and Barack Obama have shown, exposing associations with unseemly words by close associates is on the table. But if those are the standards, is it not fair to ask Sean Hannity about his non-coverage of Rudy Giuliani's long association with Monsignor Placa? Are dubious pastors only relevant when they are black and guilty of some ugly rhetoric? But not if they are white and credibly accused of molesting children?