President Donald Trump has spent this week casting about for ways to defend his false Sunday morning tweet that Alabama, along with a few other states, would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian. He’s repeated the comments to journalists, denounced individual reporters and the “Fake News” media for reporting that his statement was inaccurate, held an Oval Office event featuring a Sharpie-doctored map showing the storm’s path extending to the state, reportedly directed one of his advisers to issue a statement defending him, and tweeted out projections from the week before that suggested the storm could reach Alabama.
When all else failed, Trump reportedly buttonholed Fox News senior White House correspondent John Roberts, making the case to him that he wasn’t actually wrong about the hurricane’s path in an apparent push for more favorable coverage from the generally pro-Trump network.
But only a total hack without the slightest shred of fidelity to the truth, a sniveling sycophant whose only core value is loyalty to the president, a propagandist of the sort featured on state TV channels in authoritarian countries would try to back Trump up on this.
That brings us to Fox host Sean Hannity.
“Pretty much every newsroom in America screwed this up and lied to you by accusing the president of lying,” said Hannity on his Thursday night show. “Now the president issued this tweet -- oh look at that, that's from, I think, August 29 and 30 proving the president, what he said about the earlier models about Hurricane Dorian, that it might hit Alabama, is true.”
Hannity is either extremely stupid or deliberately misleading his audience, and the fact that Hannity did not show or read the initial Trump comments that triggered the controversy suggests the latter. The president claimed on Sunday that the threat to Alabama had increased from earlier in the week. But the opposite was true: The storm’s predicted path had shifted away from the state by the time of Trump’s tweet. Providing obsolete maps showing that the storm had, at one time, posed a potential threat to Alabama does not prove Trump correct; it actually proves that the threat to Alabama had decreased at the time he made his comments.
“But if you watch the media mob, you would think the president was lying, as they always do,” Hannity continued. “Just another absurd example of Trump derangement syndrome.” He then aired a series of clips of people on MSNBC and CNN pointing out that the president was wrong,
“A lot of psychotic jackasses in the media mob,” Hannity concluded. “I'm sure we'll get their apology, that will be forthcoming. Wish I had time to name every name.”
Hannity’s theory that only “Trump derangement syndrome” could explain why reporters would claim that the president is wrong was immediately shot down by his guest, the meteorologist and climate denier Joe Bastardi.
“Was that track correct that the president was looking at at the time that it was going to go across Florida? Was that accurate, that actually happened?” Hannity asked Bastardi.
“Well, no,” Bastardi replied, explaining that even the maps Trump subsequently tweeted show the storm reaching Alabama as an extreme outlier. “The problem was, and I have to say this, you make the statement Sunday. By [the previous] Friday, people are [projecting Dorian would go] east of Florida and the models all shifted over the weekend. So, that's what caused the confusion.”
“I never judge anyone by their weakest day, I'm not in the president's shoes, but I wouldn’t have made that statement,” Bastardi concluded.
Apparently uncomfortable with how the discussion was going, Hannity talked over Bastardi’s final comments and pivoted to climate change, saying, “We are running out of time.” Hannity’s comment about time notwithstanding, the segment ran another two minutes, during which the host did not return to discussing Trump’s Alabama tweet.
The segment was a seminal milestone in Hannity’s relationship with Trump, hammering home his position as a committed shill who will defend anything the president does. If the president were to tweet today that the sky was green, Hannity would be lashing out within the week at the “fake news media” for contradicting him.