Hannity denies that he gave Trump questions in advance. Here are the questions he asked.
Tldr: Hannity’s questions didn’t need to be provided in advance for it to be a bullshit propaganda show.
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On November 4, The Hollywood Reporter published an “extracted column” by Michael Wolff based on reporting from his new book Fire and Fury in which Wolff claims that White House officials gave an interview to Sean Hannity because Hannity “was willing to supply the questions beforehand.”
[Hope] Hicks' primary function was to tend to the Trump ego, to reassure him, to protect him, to buffer him, to soothe him. It was Hicks who, attentive to his lapses and repetitions, urged him to forgo an interview that was set to open the 60 Minutes fall season. Instead, the interview went to Fox News' Sean Hannity who, White House insiders happily explained, was willing to supply the questions beforehand. Indeed, the plan was to have all interviewers going forward provide the questions.
The interview in question took place October 11. Matt Gertz described it at the time as “a lovefest” that was “a perfect marriage of burgeoning authoritarian leader and propagandist.” If anything, most of Hannity’s questions were barely questions at all. Instead, Hannity just prompted Trump to talk about how great he is and how bad he thinks the media is.
Hannity issued a statement in response to Wolff’s column, denying his claims. On reviewing the questions, it seems less likely that Hannity actually provided them to Trump and more likely that Hannity, Trump, and White House advisers had a shared understanding that the interview topics would be the Fox News staples that Trump regularly tweets about anyway.
Legitimate questions have been raised about Wolff’s past reporting practices; Wolff says that he has hours of tape to back up what is in the book. And yet it’s hard to disagree with this prediction by Julian Sanchez.
I’ll place my bet now: Most of the book is at least broadly accurate; several of the juiciest bits will turn out to be thinly-sourced hearsay; this will be leveraged to validate “fake news” attacks on ordinary press. https://t.co/Qq16JgzrZl
— Julian Sanchez (@normative) January 4, 2018
Or, to put a finer point on it, this from Brian Beutler on Wolff and Breitbart chairman Stephen Bannon:
One of Bannon’s former subordinates, Ben Shapiro, likes to say that Bannon’s “priority” has always been “narrative truth…rather than factual truth.” This is a delicate way of saying Bannon is a propagandist, always tugging at his audience’s sense of what is emotionally correct in their hearts, rather than what is empirically accurate. But it is a useful euphemism for the purposes of discussing Wolff’s book because it captures the karmic nature of this new reporting so perfectly: An unreliable reporter and a propagandist have sent Trump world into a state of upheaval by harnessing the power of “narrative truth” and turning it inward.
The joke here, then, is that an unreliable narrator is calling into question Trump’s relationship with his chief propagandist. So begins 2018.