December 21, 2012

According to Fox News, 27-year-old Marine veteran Jon Hammar was due to be released today from the Mexican prison where he’d spent months on an illegal-firearm charge. In an interview with Fox News Radio, Olivia Hammar, the Marine’s mother, said the judge in the case had ruled in favor of her son.

Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart Bill O’Reilly, left, with Jon Stewart (Jamie McCarthy – Getty Images)

Hammar’s incarceration dates back to the summer, when he attempted to cross into Mexico bearing an heirloom shotgun that he intended to take with him on a trip to Costa Rica. According to a McClatchy report, Hammar checked in with U.S. Border and Customs Protection agents about the shotgun; they gave him a registration form and indicated that taking the shotgun into Mexico wouldn’t pose a problem. Upon crossing over, Hammar was thrown “immediately” into confinement, according to the report.

McClatchy claims credit for debuting the plight of Hammar. Yet Fox News has taken possession of the story in recent days. On Friday, for instance, Fox host Bill O’Reilly did a segment on the matter titled, “Mexico insulting every single American citizen.”

Despite many attempts by the U.S. government to get Hammar released, Mexico will not do it. And so he sits in a filthy prison 10 days before Christmas.

That’s simply unacceptable. Everybody knows Corporal Hammar did nothing wrong. So why doesn’t Mexico just release him in the name of goodwill? For years, Talking Points has been telling you that Mexico does not act like a friend to the USA. In fact, I’ve stopped going to the country, because I do not believe they’re looking out for us. The Jon Hammar case proves this.

Another Fox host, Sean Hannity, played a clip of White House press secretary Jay Carney fielding a question on the Hammar case:

QUESTION: We don’t know all the facts of the case, what he did, what he didn’t do, but his family is asking the White House to look into it. Is there anything going on to ascertain the facts to see whether he’s innocent or not? Because, again, we don’t know what really happened.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I’ll have to take the question because I don’t know the facts myself on that, so I’ll have to take the question.

Hannity wasn’t impressed with Carney’s lack of awareness: “That’s shocking!” he said.

Other Fox News programs featured compelling interviews with Hammar’s parents, sessions that highlighted their desperation to see some movement in the case. In all, Fox blanketed the Hammar story on daytime and nighttime segments. The coverage amounted to a benevolent crusade on behalf of the imprisoned Marine, who was pictured with a chain confining him to a bunk bed.

In a chat with Fox News host Martha McCallum this morning, O’Reilly said, “When people say bad things about Fox News … you can say, ‘You know what? What did you do for Corporal Hammar?’ … This is the kind of story we are in the business to do.”

As part of his coverage, O’Reilly yesterday threatened a boycott of Mexico if Hammar wasn’t released by Christmas. No indication whether that bit of bravado played any role in subsequent events.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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