A Guide To Hannity's Desperate Defenses Of Trump

Fox News host Sean Hannity, a staunch supporter of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, has defended Trump numerous times, backing him when journalists and experts criticized his “racist” comments about a judge, debunked his claims, and dubbed his policy proposals “fact-free.”

Media Across Political Spectrum Roundly Condemned Trump’s “Racist” And “Bigoted” Attacks On A Federal Judge

Media Across The Political Spectrum Criticized Trump’s “Racist” Attacks Against Judge In Trump U. Case. After Trump lashed out at the federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University, calling him a “hater” and saying he cannot be impartial because he is “Mexican,” members of the media, including NBC’s Chuck Todd and the editorial boards of The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and La Opinión, roundly condemned Trump’s attacks, calling them “borderline irresponsible,” “racist,” and “bigoted.” [Media Matters, 6/1/16, 6/5/16]

Yet Hannity Praised Trump For “Rightfully Calling Out … A Conflict Of Interest” Against A Hispanic Judge

Hannity: Trump Was “Rightfully Calling Out The Fact That There Is A Conflict Of Interest” With “The Judge In The Trump University Case.” Fox News and talk radio host Sean Hannity defended Trump’s attacks on the judge presiding over the Trump University case, saying that Trump was “rightfully calling out the fact that there is a conflict of interest, the judge in the Trump University case.” From the June 3 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Let me start by saying something else that needs to be said here. Towards the end of Hannity last night, we started the program, we covered a little bit of Donald Trump speaking in San Jose. Then I had a fight with Geraldo Rivera on the program over the issue of immigration and Donald Trump, I think rightfully calling out the fact that there is a conflict of interest, the judge in the Trump University case. Remember nobody in the media covers the Laureate college case where Bill Clinton got paid $16 some odd million, and many students from many poor countries feel like they were defrauded and that fraud has been committed against them. There's not one word about it in the media. Anyway, the judge in this particular case we found out is a member of the La Raza -- the race -- lawyers group. Remember La Raza? That's separate from the group that we hear about often, the advocacy group. But the word La Raza means “the race.” So that's an indication that this guy might have radical views. Then we know that it came to light that the law firm, Robbins-Geller, appointed by the judge, Curiel, in this case to represent a plaintiff in the Trump University class action lawsuit. Well that law firm appointed by the judge, well they have a connection to Hillary Clinton in a couple of ways. One, they gave a $2,700 campaign contribution, at least the chairman Darren Robbins did. And it seems that Robbins-Geller paid the Clintons nearly a half a million dollars in less than a year in giving them paid speeches. Now I don't think I'd want a judge with those type of connections to that law firm presiding over a case that I'm involved in. And if that's not a strong case for a recusal, I don't know what is. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 6/3/16]

Media Call Out Trump For Donating To Veterans Groups Only After Reporters Noted His Delayed Contributions

AP: Trump Appears To Have Delayed Donations To Veterans Groups Until After Wash. Post Reported On Months-Long Delay. After The Washington Post raised questions about whether millions of dollars Trump raised during a highly publicized fundraiser were actually donated to veteran groups as Trump promised, Trump announced May 31 that veterans groups had received the donations. The announcement revealed that 41 groups received $5.6 million in total, but the Associated Press noted that several groups that received money “said the checks were dated on or about May 24 -- the [same] date as Trump’s interview with [The Washington] Post -- and shipped out overnight.” The report added that while some groups received checks earlier, “the biggest batch appeared to have gone out around May 24, with several of the groups saying they had no contact with the Trump organization before that.” From the AP’s May 31 report:

More than a dozen big checks flowed out of New York last week, bound for veterans' charities from Donald Trump. On Tuesday, he announced he had made good on his promise of last January to give the groups millions of dollars from a highly publicized fundraiser.


The largest donation, a $1 million check dated May 24 and drawn from Donald J. Trump's personal account, was addressed to a small Tuckahoe, New York, group that provides scholarships to the children of fallen Marines.

Trump had been interviewed that same day by The Washington Post, which for weeks had been raising questions about where the promised money was, urging him to disclose recipients of the millions raised during a splashy telethon-style fundraiser he held in Iowa in January in place of a Fox debate he was boycotting.


The Associated Press spoke or left messages with each of the organizations Trump named. Of the 30 groups that responded by Tuesday, about half said they had received checks from Trump just last week.

Several said the checks were dated on or about May 24 — the date as Trump's interview with the Post — and shipped out overnight.


The public presentations trickled off within days, though some of the groups contacted by the AP did report receiving checks in February, March and April.

But the biggest batch appeared to have gone out around May 24, with several of the groups saying they had no contact with the Trump organization before that. [Associated Press, 5/31/16]

Media Figures Call Out Trump’s “Pathological Sleaziness” And Say “He Obviously Does Not Want To Be Held Accountable.” Media figures including Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum, Rachel Maddow Show producer Steve Benen, and National Journal’s Ron Fournier criticized Trump for trying to avoid making the donations, with Drum calling it “pathological sleaziness.” and Benen pointing out that “this is the sort of controversy that could end a campaign.” Fournier noted that Trump “obviously does not want to be held accountable. He's obviously a disingenuous man.” [Mother Jones, 5/25/16; Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/31/16; MSNBC.com, 6/1/16]

Hannity Defended Trump’s Delayed Donation To Veterans Groups: It Was “The Responsible Thing To Do”

Hannity Mocked Questions Over Delayed Donations: Does The Media “Think You Need The Money? Do They Think You’re Going To Steal It?” Hannity reported that Trump was “fighting back against liberal media attacks about how much money that he has raised and donated to veterans charity groups.” Hannity mocked the media questions, asking, “What, do they think you need the money? Do they think you’re going to steal it?” and saying, “You were going through a process of vetting these groups, which, by the way, is the responsible things to do, right?" From the May 31 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Tonight, Donald Trump is fighting back against liberal media attacks about how much money that he has raised and donated to veterans charity groups.


I watched this, and I'm thinking, what, do they think you need the money? Do they think you're going to steal it? You were going through a process, though, of vetting these groups, which, by the way, is the responsible thing to do, right? [Fox News, Hannity, 5/31/16]

Media Slammed Trump’s “Paternalistic And Insulting” Refusal To Release His Tax Returns

Media Slammed Trump’s “Obfuscation” Over His “Paternalistic And Insulting” Refusal To Release His Tax Returns. Various media outlets, including the editorial boards of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and conservative outlets such as Reason.com and National Review, criticized Trump for his refusal to release his tax returns, calling him out for his “obfuscation” on the issue and pointing out that by releasing them Trump could “clear up a potentially explosive issue.” [Media Matters, 5/16/16; Reason.com, 2/26/16; National Review, 3/3/16; Bloomberg, 5/12/16]

But Hannity Dismissed “Political” Calls For Trump To Release Them

Hannity Dismissed Those Wanting To See Trump’s Taxes As “Political.” On his radio show, Hannity told a caller who said he would like to see Trump’s tax returns that the caller must be “political.” Hannity said on the May 16 edition of his radio show that he doesn’t care about Trump’s taxes because the IRS audits him “with a fine-toothed comb.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 5/16/16]

Major National And Right-Wing Media Figures Alike Called Trump’s JFK Conspiracy Theory “Absurd”

Media Criticized Trump’s “Inflammatory” And “Absurd” Conspiracy Theory That Ted Cruz’s Father Helped Assassinate JFK. Media figures condemned Trump’s claim that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) did not deny that his father helped carry out the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which originated from the National Enquirer. MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki called it “as inflammatory as it gets,” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Trump, “Don’t you think you need a higher standard” than the National Enquirer? The Washington Post fact-checker blog called it “ridiculous,” and even Rush Limbaugh called it “kooky.” [Media Matters, 5/3/16; 5/3/16; 5/4/16; 6/2/16]

But Hannity Did Not Dispute The Conspiracy Theory

Hannity: “I Saw” Trump’s Claim “Somewhere On The Internet.” In an interview with Donald Trump, Hannity did not rebuke Trump’s debunked claim that Cruz’s father helped carry out the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Hannity asked, “Was that verified ever? I saw that somewhere on the internet.” From the May 3 edition of The Sean Hannity Show:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): What do you think about -- Ted Cruz just went off on you today, sure you've heard it, I think your campaign actually sent out a statement about it.


HANNITY: What is your reaction to it?

TRUMP: Well, you know he's losing so badly, he can't take losses, he can't handle pressure, and you know he's not good under pressure. I've watched this during debates and everything else, and he is unhinged. I mean, he's totally unhinged, and this all started on Fox & Friends. I did the show, and they showed me something, Brian and Steve, and you know, the group, they showed me something that was frankly, you know, I thought inappropriate said by the father. And I think it was -- I think most people agree with me, and then -- in the meantime, as you know there was a picture a few weeks ago, and it was all over the place, about Lee Harvey Oswald and his father, a few months before --

HANNITY: Was that verified ever? I saw that somewhere on the internet --

TRUMP: Yeah well, I'll tell you it was a picture put in, and they wouldn't put it in if they could be sued. They would be sued, that I could tell you. They're very big professionals, and it was put in, and by the way -- and Ted Cruz, I don't think denied it at the news conference. But it -- they don't do things unless it can be verified. But if that were true, what was he doing having breakfast or whatever they were doing, three months before the JFK assassination? Why are they doing that? Why is the father meeting with Lee Harvey Oswald?

HANNITY: You know, I have no idea, because I have seen it, but I never thought it was going anywhere. I don't know the truth or veracity of it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 5/3/16]

Experts And Fact-Checkers Slammed Trump’s “Incoherent” And “Fact-Free” Foreign Policy Speech

Experts And Fact Checkers: “Trump Fails To Impress Foreign-Policy Experts” In “Incoherent” And “Fact-Free” Speech. Foreign policy experts and media fact-checkers including Foreign Policy’s David David Rothkopf and The New York Times’ Michael Forsythe explained that “Trump fail[ed] to impress foreign policy experts” in his speech, describing it  as “incoherent” and “fact-free.” Even Fox News’ Karl Rove said, “There are a lot of contradictions in the speech.” [Media Matters, 4/27/16; Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 4/27/16]

While Hannity Defended It As “Amazing”

Hannity: “This Was A Pretty Amazing Speech Today, Obviously Presidential In Nature.” Hannity praised Trump’s speech as “amazing” and “obviously presidential in nature” on the April 27 edition of his radio show The Sean Hannity Show:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): This was a pretty amazing speech today, obviously presidential in nature, obviously depth and -- just the opposite of the way Trump has run his campaign up to this point, where he gave a scripted foreign policy speech that went into much detail at the Center for National Interests. He used lines like, “It’s time to shake off the rust of America's foreign policy, invite new voices, new visions into the fold is something that we have to do.” The direction he outlines he said will also return us to a timeless principle and that “foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. It has to be first, it has to be.” And then he went on to say that America first will be the major overriding theme of his administration. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 4/27/16]

Media Criticized Trump For Bringing Campaign Manager Who Had Been Accused Of Assault On Stage During Victory Speech

Media: “Trump Has Zero Decency” For Putting Lewandowski On Stage With Him. Media figures -- Democrats and conservatives alike -- including The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and CNN’s Mary Katharine Ham criticized Donald Trump for allowing campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was accused of assaulting a reporter, to appear on stage with him during a victory speech. Fox’s Katie Pavlich tweeted that “Trump has zero decency,” and Independent Journal Review’s Benny Johnson tweeted that the move “shows exactly how effed up this election is.” [Media Matters, 3/16/16]

But Hannity Supported Trump’s Campaign Manager When Charged With Battery Against Reporter

Hannity: “I Looked At This Tape At Least 100 Times” And “I Didn’t See Any Jerking” Or “Pulling.” In an interview with Trump, Hannity defended Lewandowski, who was charged with battery against Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, saying that a tape of the incident did not reflect Fields’ accusations. Hannity told Trump, “I looked at this tape at least 100 times today. … I don’t see any jerking. I don’t see any pulling.” From the March 29 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): All right, let me ask you one other question that made a lot of news today. And in full disclosure, I'm friendly with both parties here. I know your campaign manager Corey Lewandowski very well. I know Michelle Fields, she's a guest on this program a lot over the years. And I got to be honest. I looked at this tape at least 100 times today, to try and see -- and I have her original statement here, that she was, quote, “Jolted backwards, and somebody grabbed me tightly by the arm, yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground.” Now, I'm showing the tape. I don't see that. I've -- and I've looked at it 100 times. You have stood by --

DONALD TRUMP: You have to look at her. You have to look at her and see what it's all about. Look, I have to stand by him. I looked at the tape. You know, it is my tape. I have a very great club that has cameras all over it for security reasons, and this is my tape. And as far as I'm concerned, you know I'm very glad that we were able to produce the tape, because I don't see anything. I see virtually nothing, and we're going to destroy a man's life over this?


HANNITY: I looked at it --

TRUMP: I mean, what happened?

HANNITY: I looked at it a hundred times, and I know, as I have said, I know both people. To me, it looked like the typical gaggle of reporters, you know, where the campaign is trying to get the candidate away, because they've answered enough questions. And everybody's moving on and she is trying to get in the last question. That's how I see it. I don't see any jerking. I don't see any pulling. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/29/16]

Media Roundly Call Out Trump For “Creating A Culture” Of Violence At His Events

Media Figures: Trump Has “Continued Egging On His Supporters” And Used “Reckless Language” That “Can Seem To Condone Violence From His Supporters.” Media outlets and figures across the political spectrum, including the Huffington Post, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, and the Wall Street Journal editorial board called out Trump’s role in fostering violence at his events following a series of violent incidents at Trump campaign events, saying he has “continued egging on his supporters” by using “reckless language,” that “can seem to condone violence from his supporters.” [Media Matters, 3/11/16]

But Hannity Doesn’t “See Any Violence At Trump Rallies”

Hannity: “I Don’t See Any Violence At Trump Rallies.” Amid an increase in violent incidents at Trump rallies, Hannity asserted that “I don’t see any violence at Trump rallies.” From the March 11 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): 2016 GOP front-runner Donald Trump canceled a campaign rally in Chicago earlier tonight amid security concerns. Now this after violent agitators hijacked what was to be a peaceful campaign rally.


We have statements that actually prove this fact -- and we've been watching our own coverage here on Fox -- and some people with Bernie Sanders, Moveon.org put out a statement that Mr. Trump, Republican leaders who support him, his hate-filled rhetoric should be put on notice after tonight's events. They actually said that. That these protests are a direct result of violence that occur at Trump rallies. Well, I don't see any violence at Trump rallies. And I have been watching and flipping the dial tonight and somehow people have been trying to flip this on you, some of your competitors and, frankly, some pretty ignorant so-called journalists have been trying to do the same thing. As if you stating your political opinions is responsible for this. And I want to give you a chance to respond to that. We have seen a lot of this before you even got in this race in Ferguson and Baltimore. The murder rate in the city of Chicago is a national disgrace. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/11/16]

Media And Fact-Checkers Debunk Trump’s Claim That He Spoke Out Against The Iraq War

Media And Fact-Checkers: There Is “No Evidence” That Trump “Spoke Against” The Iraq War “Before It Started.” Media figures and fact-checkers from across the political spectrum found “no evidence” supporting Trump’s claim that he “spoke against” the Iraq War “before it started,” despite his repeated assertions throughout the campaign that he had. [Media Matters, 5/3/16, 6/2/16, 5/4/16, 6/5/16; Powerline, 10/5/15; PolitiFact.org, 2/13/15; The Atlantic, 2/14/16; BuzzFeed, 2/18/16; FactCheck.org, 2/19/16]

Yet Hannity Repeated Trump’s False Claim That He Was “Against The War From The Beginning”

Hannity: Trump Was “Against The War From The Beginning.” During a February 18 interview with Trump, Hannity said, “You were against the war from the beginning.” Trump agreed, responding, “Totally against the war.” [Fox News, Hannity, 2/18/16]

Media Slammed Trump’s Proposal To Dismantle 14th Amendment Right To Birthright Citizenship: It Could Create “A Humanitarian Crisis”

Conservative Media: Trump’s Call To Dismantle Birthright Citizenship Is “Downright Un-American” And “Runs Headlong Into The Constitution.” Major media, conservative and liberal outlets alike criticized Trump’s proposal to dismantle the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship, calling it “downright un-American” and saying it “runs headlong into the Constitution.” [Media Matters, 8/17/16; Slate, 8/19/15; Chicago Tribune, 8/21/15; New York Post, 8/21/15; National Review, 8/22/15; Mother Jones, 8/26/15; Reason.com, 9/21/15]

While Hannity Claimed “Trump Was Right” In His Call To Dismantle The 14th Amendment

Hannity: “Trump Was Right” To Dismantle Birthright Citizenship. Hannity declared that “Trump was right on” his call to get rid of the 14th Amendment, effectively eliminating birthright citizenship for those born on American soil. From the August 19 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Rand Paul was right on this, Trump was right on this, Cruz is right on this, Walker's right on this.


MARK LEVIN: [T]he Supreme Court has never ruled that the children of illegal aliens are American citizens. So the Supreme Court has never ruled it -- even if they did, it would be wrong. The clause speaks for itself, the author of the clause made it abundantly, unequivocally clear, and let me add one other thing, let's read the clause together, shall we? “All persons born or naturalized in the United States.” Let's stop there. If it means what the proponents of birthright citizenship say, it would stop right there. All persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens. There's no need for anything else, but that's not what it says. Then it says “and, subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Now you have some slip-and-fall lawyers, some phony constitutional lawyers, they have “esquire” after their name, they come on TV, they go all over the place: “Jurisdiction means geography.” Jurisdiction has nothing to do with geography. Zero. It had to do with political allegiance to the United States of America. How do we know it? Because they said it. And they also excluded everybody that the left and some of the Republicans want to include. Now here's the good news: There's another part of the Constitution. It's Article I, Section 8, Clause 4. Here's what that says in plain English: “The Congress shall have power to establish an uniform rule of naturalization.” Now, you know what that means? That means Congress, not the courts, not the president, not ICE, it means the United States Congress has the power to regulate immigration in this regard. And guess what, Sean, in the 1920s that's exactly what it did. The 14th Amendment excludes Indians, that is Native Americans, as U.S. citizens, because they felt that they had an allegiance to their own national tribes. OK. Great. And I believe it was in 1923, Congress reversed course and said, you know what, under the 14th Amendment and under this Article I, we've decided to the grant citizenship, national citizenship, to all Native Americans. It could not be clearer.

HANNITY: Well, this is important. Because you're talking about Article I, Section 8, you're right, it gives the broadest possible power to the Congress to establish the uniform rule of naturalization. This should not be even in debate. And what we're talking about here, are people that enter this country illegally -- so-called anchor babies -- their children are born here, and people on the left want them to automatically gain citizenship. Part of Trump's deal, and Ted Cruz, and Scott Walker, Rand Paul, they're saying no. They're right, you're right, and these other people obviously don't know history. I don't know, so I guess this is going to be a big debate. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/19/15]

Media Said “Trump Went Too Far” In Claiming McCain “Is Not A War Hero”

Media: Trump “Went Too Far” And Showed “A Total Lack Of Respect” By Saying McCain Is Not A War Hero. Media outlets and figures from both sides of the aisle, including Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi, lashed out at Trump after he criticized the military service of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) by saying that McCain is “not a war hero.” Kristol said Trump showed “a total lack of respect” to prisoners of war and other military members and veterans, and Nuzzi wrote that Trump “finally went too far.” [The Daily Beast, 7/18/15; ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 7/19/15]

But Hannity Defended Trump From Backlash, Saying McCain “Started” Conflict

Hannity: “This All Got Started By McCain.” Hannity defended Trump from backlash over his claim that McCain is not a “war hero” because he was “captured” during the Vietnam War. Hannity asserted that “this all got started by McCain, who called Trump supporters 'crazies.'” From the July 20 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): All right, this all got started by McCain, who called Trump supporters “crazies.” John McCain is a pretty well-known RINO. There’s no disputing it. He’s been good on issues involving Iraq and the war and so on and so forth. But let’s be honest here. He’s wrong on a lot of issues. I don’t think you can debate whether or not he’s a war hero.


He said it four times, he is a war hero. He’s a war hero. He was captured, but he is a war hero. And so he said it four times. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/20/15]

Media Called Out Trump’s “Bigotry” After He Suggested Mexican Immigrants Are Rapists

Media Figures: Trump’s Claims About Mexican Immigrants Are Full Of “Bigotry” And “Do Not Correspond To Reality.” Both conservative and mainstream media outlets slammed Trump’s assertions that Mexico is sending “rapists” and “criminals” to the U.S. as full of “bigotry,” saying the statement does “not correspond to reality.” Numerous companies including Univision and NBC cut ties with Trump businesses following Trump’s remarks. [Media Matters, 6/25/15, 6/30/15; Politico, 7/8/15; The Washington Post, 7/8/15; New York Post, 7/10/15; The Hill, 7/17/15; Forbes, 9/3/15]

But Hannity Agreed With Trump

Hannity: “I Agree With Mr. Trump” That Mexicans Are Criminals. Hannity defended Trump during a June 29 panel discussion about him parting ways with NBC, saying, ”I agree with Mr. Trump. As somebody who has been down to the border 11 times, I have seen the drug warehouses, I was there when criminals were arrested, I know the human trafficking side and the impact on our educational system, criminal justice system, et cetera --  our health care system." [Fox News, Hannity, 6/29/15]