Last Updated on May 20, 2022
PA Senate candidate Kathy Barnette has pushed back on false rumors that were amplified by Sean Hannity of Fox News down the stretch of the race. Hannity routinely referenced a debunked claim that Barnette supported the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 and further accused her of peddling the leftist narrative of “systemic racism” in policing. The Fox News host even referenced her attendance at the Save America Rally on January 6, 2020 and a tweet in which she called former President Obama a “Muslim” in his attacks, mirroring leftist talking points. Oz himself later personally thanked Sean Hannity at his campaign watch party this past Tuesday.
As Dr. Mehmet Oz and former Bush official David McCormick await the final tally in a race that is almost certainly headed to a recall, Kathy Barnette has not let Hannity, and other conservative media figures who pushed false claims, off the hook.
After Barnette began to surge in the polls over the final weeks of the race, her opponents began to reference a series of videos she made during the George Floyd riots in 2020. One of the videos did include the hashtag “BlackLivesMatter” in its description, but in the video itself, Barnette was clear in her denunciation of the movement and its violent wake.
Sean Hannity led the charge in smearing Barnette as a BLM supporter, which the Oz campaign soon joined. A super PAC supporting Mehmet Oz released an attack ad that referenced the false claims shortly after Barnette was identified as a clear contender.
The ad featured a clip of Kathy Barnette saying “black Americans feel disenfranchised.” It then cuts to another clip of Barnette saying, “systemic racism, specifically among police officers” without providing context.
One of the clips in question was lifted from a video statement Barnette put out during the George Floyd riots in 2020, in which she condemned the BLM organization and the violence it endorsed.
In reality, Barnette unequivocally rejected the notion of systemic racism in policing, calling it “statistically not true.”
“I reject that. And I don’t reject it because I feel like that’s not true. I reject it because it is — statistically is not true,” Barnette said. Barnette has also directly condemned the Black Lives Matter movement and organization, comparing it to a “bad case of herpes.”
The “BlackLivesMatter” hashtag was merely used to amplify the video’s reach.
Sean Hannity, Dr. Oz and others involved have yet to issue a retraction or an apology for the false claims.
Hannity even pointed to Barnette’s attendance at the January 6 Save America Rally — the unanimously peaceful protest that took place on the National Mall — and portrayed it as a bad thing. The vast majority of rallygoers did not enter the Capitol Building, including Barnette.
Beyond that, January 6 Capitol protesters who did enter the building, many of whom were ushered in by Capitol Police through open doors, have been ruthlessly persecuted by the Biden DOJ. Yet Sean Hannity, for whatever reason, backed leftist talking points in portraying Barnette’s attendance at a “Stop The Steal” rally as a bad thing, mirroring “insurrection” framing.
“Here she is, marching alongside radical Proud Boys,” Hannity said of Barnette’s rally attendance.
His framing was promptly criticized by a number of America First conservatives on Twitter.
— Eli Stein (@Fight_Back_NYC) May 17, 2022
I am disgusted by Sean Hannity’s attacks on Kathy Barnette.
This is an inkind contribution on behalf of Fox News and Hannity to Oz.
— Amy Kremer (@AmyKremer) May 17, 2022
Hannity: Barnette isn't vetted! She won't answer questions!
Barnette: Ok have me on the show let's talk
Hannity: Due to the logistical difficulties of hosting and staffing out schedule is planned out far in…
— WEF Detainee Poso (@JackPosobiec) May 13, 2022
Kathy Barnette has not let Hannity off the hook in the days following the election. “Oz and I agree on this one,” Barnette wrote in a Wednesday quote tweet over a video of Oz personally thanking Hannity. “NEVER forget, PA, how @seanhannity intentionally interfered in our election sowing lies and disinformation.”
Oz pointed to Hannity as a major factor in his campaign’s potential victory, saying that much of the Fox News host’s work was done “behind the scenes.”
Oz and I agree on this one. NEVER forget, PA, how .@seanhannity intentionally interfered in our election sowing lies and disinformation. https://t.co/x99BJ7WChT
— Kathy Barnette (@Kathy4Truth) May 18, 2022
Later that night, Hannity issued a response to Barnette in which he doubled down on the false claims.
“Kathy, my first instinct was to put up all of your incendiary tweets again, and there’s a ton of them, but I really don’t need to defend myself,” Hannity said. “You are the one that really needs to answer the questions about all of your comments, and all of your tweets that are there. You can lash out at me all you want. You are not the first person.”
If Dr. Oz is able to pull out the victory over McCormick, it will be in large part to Trump’s endorsement. McCormick — who has the backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — was long projected to have a ceiling of around 30%.
Trump had initially endorsed Sean Parnell, but a custody battle with his ex-wife forced him to drop out after building a commanding lead. With the race in disarray, Trump pushed Dr. Oz to run. The former president knew Oz from his NBC days and sought his advice on COVID-19 policy while in the White House.
A significant portion of Trump’s base rejected Oz, however, making the race razor tight. Oz has expressed support for numerous leftist social positions in the past, including puberty blockers for “trans kids”, abortion and the presence of “systemic racism in medicine.”
Barnette, who was identified by many Trump supporters as the “true MAGA” candidate, still managed to get 23% of the vote despite being outspent by both Oz and McCormick. Without Oz in the race, or if Trump had opted to back Barnette instead of McCormick, it is very possible that she could have won the race by a comfortable margin.