Conservative pundit Sean Hannity on Thursday ramped up his attacks on Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) in the latest chapter of a feud that began with an extremely heated on-air debate between the two earlier this week.
Ellison laced into Hannity on the Fox News host's program on Tuesday, calling the commentator "immoral" and the "worst excuse for a journalist I've ever seen."
On Thursday, Hannity said he found it hypocritical that Ellison would label him "immoral" given the Democratic congressman's "radical connections." The host then highlighted Ellison's previous defense of the Louis Farrakhan and his public appearance with Nation of Islam spokesperson Khalid Muhammad in the mid-1990s. As a law student at the University of Minnesota in the early 1990s, Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, defended Farrakhan against accusations of racism and anti-Semitism — something for which the progressive lawmaker apologized in a 2006 letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
Ellison wrote the letter as a first-time congressional candidate, and those associations were scrutinized during the campaign. But Hannity seemed unmoved by Ellison's apology.
"Now in 2006, when his past caught up with him, Ellison denounced the Nation of Islam," Hannity said. "But the reality is this congressman not only associated with these radicals, but he spent years spewing their hateful rhetoric."
Reached for comment by Hannity, Ellison issued a statement, which the host read on air Thursday and was provided to TPM by the congressman's spokesman Friday morning:
"Tomorrow, a set of devastating cuts will hit every American, costing 750,000 jobs over the course of the year if Congress doesn't act. The seriousness of these cuts was the subject and context of my spirited exchange with Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.
"Americans deserve journalists who provide responsible, objective reporting. Instead, Sean Hannity is bringing up my religion and making personal attacks. This is sad. Can we get back to what's best for the American people now?"