If anything good came from Monday’s revelation that Sean Hannity had concealed a massive conflict of interest from Fox News’ viewers, it was that his conduct was so egregious, and his network’s lack of interest in journalistic ethics so obvious, that it may have cleared things up for any mainstream reporter who still considers Fox a real news outlet.
As part of Hannity’s campaign against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Donald Trump, the Fox host last week repeatedly denounced the FBI’s raid of the office of Trump personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen on the network’s airwaves. Only yesterday did the public learn of a secret tie between Hannity and Cohen -- Hannity had been Cohen’s legal client.
For many, including myself, this was simply confirmation of the obvious: Fox has no rules for the likes of Hannity. The network prioritizes keeping its top ratings star happy over its responsibility to the public.
But for others, this was an opportunity for the network to prove itself:
The statement’s message is simple: Fox doesn’t care about ethics.
The network isn’t interested in whether Hannity has a conflict of interest. It will take Hannity’s claims at face value without delving into his relationship with Cohen.
Fox’s executives don’t feel that they owe it to their audience to apologize.
There’s no indication that the host will be restricted from discussing Cohen going forward.
There’s no signal that the network believes Hannity did anything wrong. He certainly won’t be disciplined.
There’s not even a name attached to the statement taking responsibility for the comments.
Fox has, through word and deed, consistently shown that the network doesn’t operate like a normal news organization.
Journalists should pay attention.