WASHINGTON — Fox News Channel's conservative commentator Sean Hannity has acknowledged to his viewers that he aired video of a Sept. 12 rally that drew tens of thousands of conservative activists during a report on a Capitol protest last week that drew a much more modest crowd.
"We screwed up," Hannity said on his program Wednesday -- after Comedy Central's Jon Stewart on his show called out Fox for mixing images from the two rallies.
Hannity's report concerned a rally held outside the Capitol last week before a major House vote on healthcare. "Twenty-plus thousand people showed up," Hannity said on his show.
As Hannity and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), leader of the rally, commented on the Nov. 5 protest, the program aired video of a Sept. 12 "tea party" rally that according to media estimates was far larger.
Police rarely estimate crowd sizes for Washington rallies, but the Washington Post said that the earlier rally had drawn "many tens of thousands" of people. The November rally, by contrast, drew an estimated 10,000 people, the Post said. Another Post story estimated 5,000 people.
Stewart, host of "The Daily Show," produced a segment rebroadcasting a portion of Hannity's program and noted: "When that clip started, it was a clear fall day in Washington, D.C.; not a cloud in the sky; the leaves have changed. . . . All of a sudden, the trees turn green again, and it's cloudy, and it looks like thousands and thousands of more people arrived.
"If I didn't know any better," Stewart said, "I would think they just put two different days together."
Hannity said on his program Wednesday: "Although it pains me to say this, Jon Stewart, Comedy Central, he was right."
Hannity called it "an inadvertent mistake, but a mistake nonetheless."
"We apologize," he said, and, addressing Stewart, added: "But by the way, I want to thank you and all your writers for watching."