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  • Hannity once said it would be “reckless and irresponsible to suggest … the DNC had anything to do with” Seth Rich’s murder

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    In August of 2016, Sean Hannity on his radio show said “it would be reckless and irresponsible to suggest the Clintons or the DNC had anything to do with” the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. Since then, however, Hannity has been the most prominent driver of conspiracy theories that suggest just that.

    During the August 10 edition of his radio show, Hannity brought up the fringe theories surrounding Rich’s death but repeatedly stated that he wasn’t “insinuating” Hillary Clinton or the DNC were complicit, and to do so would be “irresponsible”:

    • Hannity: “By the way, I’ll say up front, am I insinuating in any way, shape, matter, or form that Hillary Clinton or the Clinton campaign or the DNC is responsible? No.”
    • And: “I don’t want to get too deep into conspiracy theories.”
    • And finally: “It would be reckless and irresponsible to suggest the Clintons or the DNC had anything to do with it.”

    However, since then, of course, Hannity has dropped all pretense and pushed the conspiracy theory, insinuating exactly what he said would be “reckless and irresponsible" to insinuate.

    After a week of intense backlash to his recent promotion of the discredited Seth Rich conspiracies, advertisers began to back away from his Fox News show, and Hannity went on vacation.

    Before he left, one of his last public acts was to brag that “there’s nothing that I did, nothing that I said, except they don’t like my position politically,” in reference to criticism of his obsession with Rich.

    Click here to listen to the full exchange from Hannity's August 10 radio show. 

  • Listen to Sean Hannity contradict himself on human rights in Saudi Arabia within 5 minutes

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Right-wing Fox host and professional hypocrite Sean Hannity took two distinct positions on Saudi Arabia's human rights record and what it means for U.S. relations with the country within five minutes of each other on his radio show. As a sycophant for President Donald Trump, Hannity defended Trump’s decision to work with Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism, asserting that advances in human rights there would “come through better relations.” But just five minutes earlier, Hannity had attacked Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama for their interactions with the Saudis over the government’s oppression of women, religious minorities, and LGBTQ people. 

    Hannity has frequently cited Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses -- of which there are many -- in order to attack Clinton. However, his tone sharply changed on the May 22 edition of his show when discussing Trump’s trip to the country, which included negotiating “arms sales and infrastructure investments.” Hannity heaped praise on Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia, saying that Trump was creating a “better future” by having the Saudis “working with the Israelis and the United States.” Hannity began to acknowledge the human rights abuses, saying he “got it,” but interrupted himself to say that human rights changes would “come through better relations.” He then indicated that fighting the Iranians and “Iranian-supported radical terrorists” comes first:

    SEAN HANNITY: But for the president, a better future now that you have the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Jordanians now working with the Israelis and the United States that is now being a part of it. And a president that said “radical Islamic terror” and described a better vision and future only if these nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists: “Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of this earth.” Was so powerful, especially comparing everything that happened under Barack Obama. And pledging cooperation, principled realism, rooting in partners, not perfection.

    [...]

    If you create, like sort of like Sun Tzu and The Art of War, alliances against one common enemy, just like we allied with the former Soviet Union in World War II to defeat Nazism. The world can be a much better, safer place with less evil in it. And in that sense, would I prefer the president talk about human rights abuses? Yeah, I got it, but -- and the oppression of women, and persecution of Jews, and slaughter of Christians, and that’s all going to come through better relations. But the first big elephant in the room here is, we better all understand if you want your lives not to be -- because remember, they’re in close proximity. The Iranians want hegemony. Iranians are willing, they are now fighting proxy war after proxy war. Who do you think is fighting the Saudis out of Yemen? That would be the Iranian-supported radical terrorists there. They’re doing the bidding of the Iranians. The Iranians being Shia and the Sunni Arab nations that I’ve been discussing here like the Saudis.

    Less than five minutes prior, however, Hannity had applauded Trump for being willing to “go up against evil, and confront evil, and identify evil,” saying there's a "distinction" between that approach and the actions of Obama and Clinton. In addition, he specifically attacked Clinton for the Clinton Foundation receiving money from Saudi Arabia because of the human rights abuses there, saying, “They oppress women, and kill gays and lesbians, and oppress Christians and Jews”:

    HANNITY: There you have a tale of two presidents. You have [Barack Obama] the apologist, the appeaser, versus [Donald Trump] the realist, and the individual that is willing to go up against evil, and confront evil, and identify evil.

    [...]

    You have money in the Clinton Foundation. You have the Saudis and all these corrupt governments that adhere to Sharia law, giving millions to the Clinton Foundation, buying her silence. Meanwhile, they oppress women, and kill gays and lesbians, and oppress Christians and Jews. Such a distinction.

    This was not the first time that Hannity contradicted himself on human rights in Saudi Arabia or on the country’s relationship with Democratic politicians. According to The Washington Post, Trump has business ties to the Saudis, something that Hannity has not acknowledged in his frequent bashing of the country’s donations to the Clinton Foundation.

    Hannity’s so-called concern for the murders of “gays and lesbians” and the “oppression of women” rings hollow given his storied history of sexism and homophobia. He has frequently dismissed women who give their opinions or seek power. Hannity has also said that “you could argue that Bill Cosby probably helped women in their careers,” despite numerous reports of Cosby sexually assaulting women. Hannity was fired from a short-lived radio show after making a series of homophobic remarks, including spreading the myths that gay men are prone to HIV/AIDS because they consume each other’s feces, engage in fisting, and insert gerbils into their rectums. He also agreed with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage across all 50 states marked “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

  • Seth Rich’s brother demands Sean Hannity stop pushing baseless conspiracy theories

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Seth Rich’s brother has sent a letter to Sean Hannity’s executive producer demanding Hannity stop pushing “false conspiracy theories” about Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered in what police say was likely a botched robbery.

    Hannity, a long-time conspiracy theorist, has used a discredited report from a Fox affiliate about Rich to push the baseless claim that he was connected to WikiLeaks and that his murder was related to it. Though the report has been debunked, Hannity has repeatedly pushed the claim, and other Fox News figures have also made the same baseless claim. Rich’s family has since sent a cease and desist letter to the Fox contributor who was behind the affiliate report and demanded a retraction from the affiliate.

    In the letter to Hannity executive producer Porter Berry, obtained by CNN, Seth’s brother Aaron Rich wrote it was “a travesty that you would prompt false conspiracy theories and other people's agendas rather than work with the family to learn the truth.” He also demanded that Hannity, who has been pushing Rich conspiracy theories from dubious figure Kim Dotcom, “not provide a platform for a person who is known to have pushed false evidence,” as it would “cause us additional pain, suffering and sorrow.” CNN also reported that Hannity “had not reached out to the [Rich] family.” From the May 23 report:

    The brother of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich wrote a letter on Tuesday to the executive producer of Sean Hannity's Fox News show pleading with him to find "decency and kindness" in his heart and stop spreading an unproven conspiracy theory about the unsolved murder.

    "Think about how you would feel losing a son or brother. And while dealing with this, you had baseless accusations of your lost family member being part of a vast conspiracy," Aaron Rich wrote in the letter to "Hannity" executive producer Porter Berry, a copy of which was provided to CNN.

    "As the family, we would hope to be the first people to learn about any such evidence and reasons for Seth's death," he added. "It is a travesty that you would prompt false conspiracy theories and other people's agendas rather than work with the family to learn the truth."

    [...]

    Brad Bauman, the Rich family spokesman, told CNN on Monday that Hannity had not reached out to the family. Hannity did, however, reach out over the weekend to invite Kim Dotcom, the Megaupload founder, on to his program.

    [...]

    "As such, we urge you to please, not provide a platform for a person who is known to have pushed false evidence in the past and not allow him to make a mistake like that here," Aaron Rich wrote. "Nobody wants to solve Seth's murder more than we do. However, providing a platform to spread potentially false, damaging information will cause us additional pain, suffering and sorrow. By airing this information, you will continue to emotionally hurt us."

    "We appeal to your decency to not cause a grieving family more pain and suffering by allowing your platform to be used by someone to drag our family name through the mud," the letter concluded.

  • When Fox News Said That Public Officials Mishandling Classified Information Was A Big Deal

    ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    Reports that President Donald Trump shared highly classified information with Russian officials, potentially violating espionage norms, raise the question of whether anyone on Fox News will criticize the president. Several Fox personalities viciously attacked Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information with her email server and, without evidence, claimed that she allowed foreign actors to obtain that information.

  • Sean Hannity's Desperate Attempt To Downplay Flynn Revelations From Sally Yates' Testimony

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    Fox News host Sean Hannity downplayed the testimony given by former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who revealed that she warned President Donald Trump's administration on multiple occasions about then-national security adviser Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russian officials. Instead, Hannity tried to reinvigorate baseless claims that someone in former President Barack Obama’s administration unlawfully unmasked Flynn.

    Hannity's attempt to downplay negative information about the Trump administration goes hand in hand with his sycophantic coverage of the president. Throughout Trump's campaign, Hannity constantly defended Trump as experts and journalists criticized his "racist" comments and debunked claims. Additionally, Hannity and Trump have served as a sounding board for one another, with Hannity pushing for Trump's war on the press and Trump tweeting about conspiracies promoted on Hannity's show. 

    In testimony to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election on May 8, Yates said she warned the Trump administration in late January that Flynn was “compromised” in his ability to execute the responsibilities of his position in an independent fashion. Nearly three weeks after Yates warned the administration, Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation. The move came only after The Washington Post reported that Flynn had communicated with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding sanctions put in place by the Obama administration -- “contrary to public assertions by Trump officials,” including Vice President Mike Pence. In her testimony, Yates said that “the Russians also knew that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others,” and that the indiscretion potentially exposed him to foreign blackmail. Yates added that when she brought her concerns to White House counsel Don McGahn, he reportedly asked her, “Why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another White House official?”

    Despite the details revealed during the hearing, Hannity downplayed the importance of Yates’ testimony during his three-hour radio show and nightly Fox News program on May 8. Instead, he and guest Sara Carter of Circa News speculated about whether the Obama administration was involved in improperly unmasking members of the Trump administration, as well as journalists, lawyers, doctors, and even Hannity himself. However, administration officials have said that unmasking -- revealing otherwise obscured identities in intelligence reports -- occurs commonly but to limited audiences when officials have a good reason for getting the information; Yates noted during her testimony that she had never asked for anyone to be unmasked but had seen reports generally where names were already unmasked. Hannity also suggested on his radio show that the alleged unmasking was “a violation of our Fourth Amendment rights,” adding, “We’re talking about criminal actions here:” 

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I want to know if I was unmasked. Because you both saw those reports and I have no ability to corroborate independently whether or not it’s true, but Sara, what are you hearing on your end about the names? Is it Congress or these -- the 16 other presidential candidates, what?

    SARA CARTER: I don’t think it’s just limited to Congress, Sean. I don’t think it’s limited to Congress at all. I think that what John [Solomon] and I really want to find out goes far beyond Congress. Were there other members unmasked? And John and I had written about this early on in our first story. Were there journalists? Were there doctors? Who else was being unmasked? Lawyers, people with important jobs, judges? These are questions that need to be answered and nobody wants to give it up, right? They can hide under the classification of it, but eventually these answers have to come forward. And I think it’s a violation of civil liberties if we don’t have an answer to this.

    HANNITY: Isn’t it bigger than civil liberties, though? Isn’t that a violation of our Fourth Amendment rights? And aren’t we also discussing if the intelligence community is used for political [opposition] research and taking away people’s Fourth Amendment rights? We’re talking about criminal actions here.

    This is not the first time Hannity has downplayed the scandal surrounding Flynn. Following Flynn’s resignation, Hannity used his opening monologue to blame liberals for Flynn’s downfall, despite the administration’s own admission that Flynn had lied to the White House.

  • Right-Wing Media Figures Want Trump To Shut Down The Government So They Can Blame Democrats

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Right-wing media figures are displeased after the likelihood of a government shutdown seemed to fade following a breakthrough after days of failed negotiations and speculation. Specifically, right-wing media figures cheered the idea of a shutdown because they wanted to make sure that “Democrats get blamed” and to exact revenge after, as they claimed, Democrats made previous shutdowns “as painful as possible.”