On December 7, as part of Fox’s COVID-19 civil disobedience campaign, Sean Hannity hosted the co-owner of Mac’s Public House in Staten Island, New York, for yet another supportive interview. Hannity defended the co-owner, Danny Presti, from the allegation that he hit a police officer with his car, describing the incident as an officer “jump[ing] on the hood of the car” as Presti was trying to “get the guy off the car.”
As with the rest of Fox News, Hannity’s supportive coverage of the Staten Island bar co-owner contrasts starkly with his attacks on and smears of Black Lives Matter and other police critics.
In addition to providing a friendly framing for allegedly hitting a police officer, Hannity — speaking “as a former dishwasher, cook, busboy, waiter, bartender” — defended Presti, saying that “everybody at this point knows about masks and social distancing” and stressing to viewers that despite Presti’s arrest, he cares so much because his “heart, life, and soul is involved in this.” On-screen chyrons describe the video of Presti allegedly striking the police officer as “dramatic video of cop on car” and “officer seen on hood of his car.” And Hannity went on to compare Presti to Eric Garner, a Black Staten Islander killed by a police officer who put him in a chokehold in 2014.
The deference Hannity showed to his favored bar owner is almost unbelievable when compared to his extremely hostile coverage of Black Lives Matter and other activists who demonstrate against police misconduct.
Hannity spent the summer of 2020 warning that nationwide protests against police brutality revealed Black Lives Matter’s plan to “patrol the streets with armed militias” in preparation for the group’s armed “war on police.” It is now December, there are no Black Lives Matter militias, and the group is not waging an armed war on police.
In the early days of the Black Lives Matter movement, Hannity would frequently host former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who said on his show that Black Lives Matter is “an ideology of victimhood with a list of grievances that do not exist” and an example of “whoring for votes” with “plantation politics.” (Clarke was reportedly fired as a Fox contributor after “his rhetoric became crazier and crazier and most shows refused to use him.”) That role is today filled by talk radio host Leo Terrell, who recently warned Hannity that “Black Lives Matter antifa is going to grow like ISIS did in the Middle East."
Hannity has hyped the racist trope of “Black-on-Black crime” to undermine Black Lives Matter’s activism against police misconduct, told a reporter to troll movement supporters with the question “Do Black lives matter, or do all lives matter?” and defiantly shouted “all lives matter” at Black Lives Matter protesters during a town hall with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Hannity even speculated that former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem because “he might have converted to Islam” and attacked rapper Cardi B for “using” the killing of George Floyd “to hurt others and fuel more hate and more division.”
Hannity has also compared Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan and spent years smearing the entire national group based on an incident in which some protesters chanted “pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon.” Hannity denounced Black Lives Matter as a “racist group threatening to kill cops and kill white people,” which he called “a real issue of racism.” On another occasion, Hannity blamed Black Lives Matter’s nonexistent “narrative [of] killing cops” for the spree murders of five Dallas police officers.
Hannity’s double standard sends an unmistakable message: White people can take extreme actions in defense of Fox-approved causes, but Black people denouncing police brutality are terrorists who want to murder your white family.