From the August 7 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources:
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Instead, voices who are trusted by Republicans, trusted by Trump's base should be the ones reassuring people about the integrity of the voting system. So is that happening? No. Conservative media is helping Trump spread doubts without a shred of evidence. Here, let me show you how not to interview a candidate about something as serious as this. This is Sean Hannity just handing Trump the mic. Watch.
SEAN HANNITY: You said at a speech today you're afraid this election is going to be rigged. Explain.
DONALD TRUMP: Yeah. Well I've been hearing about it for a long time. And I'm telling you,November 8th, we better be careful. Because that election's going to be rigged and I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it's going to be taken away from us.
HANNITY: All right, Mr. Trump, thank you so much for being with us.
STELTER: That's it? If there were ever a time to extend an interview to challenge a candidate, that was the time. Don't feed me baloney about Hannity’s show being only an hour long and that he might have ran out of time. This interview was on tape. The producers should have kept it going. Hannity should have asked more questions. Interviewers, even the ones that support the person they're are interviewing, have an obligation to probe further and push back when a candidate says something dangerous and this is dangerous. Suggesting an election is going to be stolen? This is third-world dictatorship stuff.
Now, maybe Trump's just making excuses for an eventual loss. But here's where the media's role comes in. Journalists cannot just play these sound bites, quote these claims, and then move on to the next subject. We can't just let it seep into the discourse like it's normal. We have to stop and fact-check and contextualize.
Again, the conservative media is vital here but Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity both failed their audiences this week. Both men interviewed Trump. In both cases Trump suggested there was something fishy about the voting in 2012 and then later in the week Hannity picked up the ball and ran with it blindly.
HANNITY: Here's an interesting statistic. The Philly Inquirer, one week after the 2012 election, pointed out that in 59 separate precincts in inner city Philadelphia that Mitt Romney did not get a single vote. Not one. And according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, there were nine precincts in Cleveland alone. Again, not a single Romney vote. Not one. Now, maybe I'm conspiratorial.
STELTER: OK, let's pause it right there. Yes Hannity, you are being conspiratorial. A Google search would show that there are also precincts in other states, like in Utah, where Obama did not get a single vote. Hannity is not a journalist, but he has a megaphone, and he's using his megaphone irresponsibly. If a Democratic candidate were saying this stuff, saying the election could be rigged, then every word of this essay would apply to him or her. But right now it's the Republican candidate for president who is trying to delegitimize our democratic process without proof. It is unpatriotic for any interviewer or any journalist to help him.