Hannity | Media Matters for America

Hannity

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  • Trump's tweets directly repeated Hannity's talking points

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR & NICK FERNANDEZ

    Since taking office, President Donald Trump’s relationship with chief Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity has been extensively documented, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the president is receiving inspiration for his daily rage tweets about the special counsel’s ongoing investigation from Hannity’s programming. Hannity, who has taken on the role as the face of the crusade against the special counsel, has desperately and almost comically spearheaded the public relations campaign to undermine the public’s trust in the investigation. And now, as the indictments of Trump associates and details of their crimes and possible cooperation agreements with the government begin to pile up and attract media coverage, the president is lashing out on Twitter, oftentimes employing language that can be traced back, nearly verbatim, to one person:

  • Fox News hasn’t mentioned possible election fraud in North Carolina for days. Here's what it covered instead.

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    In North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, Republican Mark Harris seemingly defeated Democrat Dan McCready by less than 1,000 votes. However, the state has delayed certifying the results pending an investigation of serious “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities,” including “illegally cast or destroyed” ballots. Despite harping on baseless “voter fraud” myths for years, Fox News has virtually ignored this apparent case of actual election fraud. Since the state election board announced its review on Friday, the network has chosen to cover other news such as:

    Toy bananas “reveal surprises inside” 

    Actor Chris Pratt said “Merry Christmas” at Disneyland

    A teacher told children that Santa Claus isn’t real

    A Cleveland radio station is no longer playing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

    HuffPost is taking on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

    PETA called for vegan-friendly alternatives to common phrases

    “‘Meat-heavy’ menu slammed at climate talks”

    Rock band Hootie and the Blowfish is going on tour again

    Oregon is attempting to legalize psychedelic mushrooms 

    An all-male Princeton a cappella group has stopped singing a song from The Little Mermaid

    The Boston Red Sox are going to the White House

    Netflix has decided to keep Friends available for streaming

    Bill and Hillary Clinton are on a speaking tour

    A veteran panicked when he mistook a National Lampoon’s Vacation decoration for someone stranded on a roof

    The New York Police Department found a couple’s lost engagement ring and searched for them via social media to return it 

    Delta Airlines has increased the cost of in-flight alcohol

    A court has rejected a man’s request to subtract 20 years from his age 

  • Fox News desperately insists Michael Cohen’s (other) guilty plea means “absolutely nothing”

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR & NICK FERNANDEZ

    After President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to “lying to Congress about the timing and extent of his negotiations,” on behalf of the Trump Organization, to build a Trump Tower in Moscow -- his second guilty plea to a federal crime in three months -- Trump’s sycophants and defenders in the media are proclaiming that Cohen’s guilty plea means “absolutely nothing.” By furiously attempting to spin the potentially devastating news as “a nothingburger,” right-wing media are simply picking up where they left off in August after Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws on Trump’s behalf. And even though Trump’s stooges in the media have openly worried about what may come next for some time now as the special counsel investigation continues, they continue to wage their public relations campaign with laughable spin:

  • The unbelievable hypocrisy of Sean Hannity, recipient of unsecured presidential phone calls

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    This is one of those cases where Fox News host Sean Hannity’s hypocrisy is so gobsmackingly clear that it's difficult to figure out how much one can write about it.

    Hannity is a hack. I know it, you know it, Republican senators know it, conservative columnists know it. He’s a mouthpiece for whatever argument the GOP is making at any given time, a peerless propagandist for President Donald Trump with no core ideology or beliefs. It’s a running joke here at Media Matters that if you look into any criticism he makes of a Democrat, you can inevitably find him praising a Republican for doing the same thing, and vice versa.

    And yet. Even by those standards, this one is a doozy.

    Trump has continued to place calls from his unsecured personal cell phone even after his aides have told him that Chinese and Russian intelligence agencies are listening in and using the information they glean to try to undermine administration policy, The New York Times reported last Wednesday. The president denied the report, as he denies all reports he considers damaging; the Times stands by its work. On Thursday, NBC News matched the story and added an additional detail: Hannity is one of the informal advisers Trump consults using that unsecured channel.

    You may recall that communications security was the single most-discussed issue during the 2016 presidential elections. Trump, congressional Republicans, and right-wing commentators all loudly declared that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was a major breach of security and evidence of her vast criminality, driving both chants of “lock her up” at Trump’s rallies and overwhelming media coverage of the topic.

    Hannity has continued to fixate on Clinton’s email server since Trump’s election, often citing the FBI’s decision not to recommend charges despite what Hannity describes as clear proof that she “committed felonies” as evidence that Trump has been treated unfairly by special counsel Rober Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Hannity and his guests accused Clinton of crimes in 218 segments about the Mueller probe in its first year.

    While the FBI has said its agents found no evidence Clinton’s servers were compromised, Hannity has often blasted Clinton for damaging national security by purportedly making her emails available to foreign intelligence agencies in China, Russia, and elsewhere. Hannity often cites statements on that issue by former FBI Director James Comey; those comments were later condemned by the FBI’s inspector general. For example (all quotes via Nexis), Hannity said:

    • On July 13: “And excuse me, how many countries hacked Hillary Clinton's email server? Was is it China, Russia, was it the Iranians, the North Koreans? And despite the known risk, Hillary Clinton, well, she decided to conduct official top secret government business on that private server to the illegal, which we know was hacked by at least five foreign powers.”
    • June 25: “We know Hillary's email server was hacked by at least six foreign intelligence service[s], so God knows where it came from.”
    • May 29: “We do know that Hillary Clinton's server and the original draft of Comey said that there were six foreign intelligence services that got into her email server? So, it could have been Russia, China, North Korea, Iran -- and I'm just guessing.”
    • April 9: “With Hillary's email hacked by so many foreign agencies we would never know where the emails came from, would we? ... They probably were the Chinese and Iranians and North Koreans.”
    • March 19: “Did Russia hack into that server? Did China, did Iran, did North Korea, did they gain access to America's top secrets in Hillary's emails?”

    On Wednesday, we learned that Hannity’s worst-case scenario with regard to Clinton’s server had actually occurred with regard to Trump’s phone. On Thursday, we learned that Hannity was a direct recipient of some of the calls the president was making in casual disregard of national security.

    Hannity has not addressed either report on his Fox program in the week since the Times report broke. The easiest explanation for why is that he is not actually deeply invested in ensuring that top federal officials engage in best practices for communications security. He wants Republicans to defeat Democrats, and he will say and do whatever he thinks will lead to that outcome.

    Video by John Kerr

  • Sean Hannity told Fox viewers to donate to a GOP candidate, whose campaign then turned it into an ad

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris is running a Facebook ad featuring Sean Hannity stating on Fox News that Harris “needs your help.”

    Harris is a former pastor who has appeared in anti-LGBTQ media outlets such as Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and American Family Association’s American Family Radio. He has a history of pushing sexist remarks and promoting bigotry against Muslims   and   LGBTQ people. Harris’ race is considered one of the most competitive in the country.

    During his October 16 Fox News show, while running through “10 more of the House races that will decide the fate of the country,” Hannity said that “in North Carolina [District] Nine, Democrat Dan McCready has a big-time cash advantage, but conservative Republican Mark Harris has a very slight edge. He needs your help.”

    Harris responded to the segment the following day with a Facebook ad soliciting donations that features video of Hannity’s remarks. According to Harris, “Sean Hannity is Correct! My opponent is a liberal awash in cash because he is #PoweredByPelosi. We need your help to win this race for the good guys.”

    Facebook’s ad performance numbers state as of posting that the ad has been viewed 5,000-10,000 times in North Carolina and the campaign has spent less than $100 on it.

    Fox News has previously asked campaigns to take down advertisements that have video from the network in them. It did not respond to a request for comment.

    The network has frequently helped Republican candidates -- both on- and off-air. Hannity himself has headlined campaign events for two Florida politicians: gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ron DeSantis and congressional candidate Rep. Matt Gaetz this year. He will travel to Texas this weekend to campaign for Sen. Ted Cruz.

  • Republicans have already empowered gangs and extremist groups

    From the Proud Boys to Turning Point USA, extremists are ascendant on the right, but legacy media are too often playing catch-up

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Let's be clear about the state of things. A well-connected sitting congressman endorsed a neo-Nazi for political office, and it wasn't the first time this sort of thing happened. To the contrary, GOP candidates across the country have links to white nationalists. The GOP president -- who is the undisputed center of the party -- is a former game show host whose administration has repeatedly defended violent extremists. And his son has even appeared on a white nationalist show. The debate is over. The extremists have taken over the party.

    And yet, legacy media outlets are too often caught completely unaware.

    On October 12, the Metropolitan Republican Club hosted Gavin McInnes, founder of the self-identified “gang” Proud Boys. During the event, McInnes re-enacted the violent 1960 murder of Japanese socialist party leader Inejiro Asanuma. After McInnes' appearance, a number of Proud Boys were taped nearby brutally beating and kicking several individuals” and shouting homophobic slurs at protesters. Videos show "more than a dozen" Proud Boys, including at least three skinheads, punching and kicking protesters on the ground.

    In response, The New York Times has covered McInnes' exploits with kid gloves and reduced his extremism to mere provocation. Just look how thrilled white supremacist Ann Coulter was with the piece:

    The Times’ irresponsible description of McInnes as simply a "far-right provocateur" is already memorialized on Wikipedia, potentially the most widely read source of information by audiences that might never have heard of him before. As Jacob Weindling wrote, "You can quote Gavin McInnes directly while describing events that happened and get a harsher description of McInnes than the NYT wrote. ... I don't know how you can call the beginning of this article anything other than white nationalist propaganda."

    Weindling is correct. Just look at McInnes’ speech to the Manhattan Republican Club, in which he told Republicans that they need Proud Boys as “foot soldiers," because of what they have in common. Or look at what McInnes said on his podcast on October 14, when he defended the use of anti-LGBTQ slurs.

    And this characterization matters. While the Times is describing McInnes as a "provocateur," and NBC News is portraying the Proud Boys as a "nationalist movement," the reality is that we're in far more dangerous territory. As Daily Beast reporter Kelly Weill noted, by making alliances with groups like the Proud Boys, “mainstream Republicans can sort of outsource the political and physical violence that they’d like to enact against opponents.”

    And McInnes is not an isolated figure: He and the Proud Boys are deeply entwined in right-wing media. McInnes was a contributor to Fox News for eight years, appearing on Sean Hannity’s show at least 24 times. In 2017, Hannity hosted another Proud Boy with ties to the violent white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally to discuss political violence. Fox host Mark Levin has given McInnes two shows on his online outlet CRTV, where McInnes has pushed extremist bigotry like promoting men’s rights activism, calling female journalists “colostomy bag for various strangers’ semen,” and glorifying violence and fighting. Fox host Tucker Carlson happily posed with Roger Stone and two Proud Boys in a Fox green room and “declined to disavow” the group when asked about it. McInnes shows up on right-wing radio and on right-wing YouTube. In an era in which the right-wing is doing everything it can to suppress opposition, it's no wonder that the Proud Boys are now part of the Republican machine.

    It's not just the Proud Boys, either.

    On the October 17 edition of Today, NBC gave a platform to Identity Evropa -- a white supremacist group actively seeking to rebrand its racism as identitarianism. The network referred to Identity Evropa as a “fringe group,” yet NBC still gave its leaders a softball interview on a show that consistently reaches the coveted demographic of adults ages 25-54; its affiliated channel MSNBC also aired segments featuring the group and other white supremacists.

    NBC’s Peter Alexander played into Identity Evropa's obsession with “optics” and rejection of “anti-social behavior” by remarking on how “clean cut” its representatives look. The segment allowed the white supremacist organization to expand its reach beyond YouTube and social media to recruit followers and promote its talking points, which include blatantly pushing white nationalism using the Republican Party as a vehicle. The group's leader was thrilled was the exposure.

    It's clear that the communications wing of the GOP has no problem with these groups.

    On October 16, Fox News host Laura Ingraham invited Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson on her show for a softball interview. Patriot Prayer is a far-right coalition whose membership overlaps with the Proud Boys and whose unity relies on their common “hatred for the left.” Gibson has personally encouraged his followers to instigate violence, promising that counterprotesters “are going to feel the pain.” Ingraham's interview conveniently ignored a report by The Oregonian that the group had "a cache of guns" including "long guns" on a rooftop in Portland, OR, before a summer protest. That's where we are: One of the president's favorite television hosts did a friendly interview with the type of person whose group sets up a cache of guns during a protest of that president.

    Fox also frequently hosts Turning Point USA’s most prominent members, Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, close allies of the president. Left unmentioned are the extremist views of TPUSA. The Miami New Times unearthed online chats from one TPUSA chapter that feature members warning each other about not using racial slurs too often, talking about "watching underage cartoon pornography and deporting Latina women," and sharing memes about "Syrian men raping a white Swedish woman at gunpoint." An attendee at a TPUSA conference was filmed praising Nazi Germany. And when TPUSA pushed out the person who wrote "I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all. ... I hate blacks," the replacement was someone who said, "I love making racist jokes." Undeterred, Fox News hosts and top allies of the president happily attend TPUSA events, and TPUSA members openly raise money off of Fox segments that fearmonger about the liberalization of college campuses. It's quite the con.

    Or look at Fox host Tucker Carlson, an innovator in this space. Instead of mainstreaming an extremist group, Carlson is cutting out the middleman and mainstreaming men's rights and white supremacist propaganda himself.

    Make no mistake: People across America are seeing all of this and speaking up. But at some point, it'd be nice if the legacy media would notice too.