Hannity | Media Matters for America

Hannity

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  • How Sean Hannity's Charlottesville propaganda works

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    It’s been a bad few days for President Donald Trump. His approval ratings hit new lows yesterday in the wake of his widely criticized failure over the weekend to specifically denounce a violent rally of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, VA. Perhaps because many of his supporters are white racists, the president instead blamed bigotry “on many sides”; while those supporters appreciated it, journalists and pundits from all stripes pointed out this was wildly insufficient, forcing the White House to send Trump out again yesterday afternoon to issue a subdued, paltry, but specific declaration that such groups are bad. Grasping for a familiar foe to blame for his own failures, the president tweeted Monday evening that he had learned a valuable lesson from the fracas: the “Fake News Media will never be satisfied” because journalists are “truly bad people!”

    For Trump, the “fake news media” constitutes any journalist who isn’t willing to say nice things about the president regardless of the circumstances. And so the president likely enjoyed last night’s performance from leading lickspittle Sean Hannity, whose Fox News program was largely devoted to explaining that the “destroy Trump establishment media” had unfairly attacked the blameless president. This combination of staunch defense of Trump, no matter what, with a willingness to lash out at the president’s foes characterizes the propagandistic tenor of Hannity’s broadcasts. Like any good propaganda, Hannity’s show has its heroes (Trump and the Republicans who support him) and its villains (Democrats and the media who smear them).

    Here’s his sixteen-minute opening monologue from last night’s show:

    Hannity kicked off by denouncing the “disgusting,” “despicable” actions of those with “hateful, inexcusable, racist, white supremacist views,” declaring that “there's no place in this country for these neo-Nazi, fascist, white supremacists.” But for Hannity, the white supremacists aren’t the real villain of the story -- or at least, they aren’t worthy of significant attention. They are a player to condemn so you can say you did and then move on to the real point.

    And the real point, for Hannity, is that Trump had always condemned white supremacists, and media who say otherwise just want to tear the president down.

    Hannity read Trump’s tweets and aired his comment on Saturday, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides -- on many sides.” It’s obvious that Trump had deliberately avoided saying who he had criticized -- certainly, the white supremacists noticed that. But here’s Hannity’s explanation of what happened:

    Now, all weekend long, I, like many of you, watched the media going insane, acting like they didn't know what the president was talking about. They ran with a false narrative all weekend. Oh, big story, he didn't mention the groups by name.

    Well, it couldn't be more obvious, more transparent who the president was talking about. He was standing for equal justice under the law, against racism. And the press, what did they do? They used a high-profile act of violence to bludgeon the president and conservatives politically. So predictable.

    Now, it was crystal clear what the president was talking about. But the press, they went after him anyway. And the destroy Trump establishment media -- they didn't care about the violence, seemingly, or the racial tensions they're creating or the civil unrest as much as they cared about using this tragedy as an opportunity to attack people they disagree with, and in particular, the president, to try and inflict as much damage politically as possible. You know what? Just like they have done since November 8th! That's a simple truth.

    Hannity is making his audience a propaganda sandwich: Attack the press, make excuses for Trump, attack the press again. He primes viewers by drawing a connection to them, suggesting they shared the collective experience of being betrayed by the press. Then he makes an obviously false statement to the benefit of the president: “It couldn't be more obvious, more transparent who the president was talking about.” Then he explains that the media is only doing this because they are trying to destroy the president like they have since the election.

    Hannity supports this viewpoint with lies of omission and commission.

    He carefully avoids explaining the fervent white nationalist support for President Trump; that some rally attendees were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats; that these groups expressed love for Trump administration members like chief strategist Steve Bannon; the disturbing interactions the Trump campaign had with white nationalists. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who attended the protest, said that the Charlottesville protests were an indication that “we are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump.”

    Instead of mentioning any of that, Hannity suggests that the president has been a fervent opponent of that movement. “This is Donald Trump over the years, something the destroy Trump media will never show you, condemning Duke, white supremacists,” Hannity said, before airing a series of interview clips of Trump criticizing Duke. Three clips are from 2016 and one is from 2000, suggesting that Trump had been a consistent Duke foe.

    What’s missing, of course, is the reason why reporters were asking Trump about Duke in 2016:  Trump created an uproar last February because he repeatedly refused to disavow Duke for supporting his campaign.

    Having purportedly demonstrated to his audience that “President Trump and the people that voted for him and that support his agenda ... don't like racists,” Hannity went on the attack. First, he suggested that Democrats are the ones who “divide Americans by playing the race card every single election.” And then he ran through the greatest hits of conservative racial attacks on President Barack Obama -- his association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, purported ties to Louis Farrakhan, his criticism of the Cambridge police officer who arrested a college professor on his own doorstep, and his support for Black Lives Matter. From there, he was off to the races, lashing out at a panoply of liberals who had made improper comments about Trump, from Mickey Rourke to Kathy Griffin to Snoop Dogg. All the while, he criticized the media for their purported double standard in not giving sufficient coverage to these supposed atrocities.

    Here’s how Hannity closed out his monologue, which began with a condemnation of white supremacists who support President Trump:

    Every two to four years, Democrats divide the country. They play identity politics. It's been a part of this playbook the Democrats used for generations.

    So it's time for the destroy Trump establishment media to start recognizing how they have a massive double standard, that they have an agenda and ideology because just like, sadly, white supremacists in Charlottesville, hatred of any kind should not be tolerated or ever given a free pass, period, whoever is involved in the hatred, like the heat we saw this weekend.

    Hannity talking to himself is not significantly different from talking to his guests. The remainder of the show featured a host of conservative pundits agreeing that Trump did nothing wrong and the real problems are caused by Democrats and the “destroy Trump establishment media.” By my count of the transcript, the show featured 15 mentions of white supremacists (many of which were declarations that Trump is not one and in fact condemns them). There were 41 mentions of the media or the press over the course of the 44-minute broadcast.

    This is what Sean Hannity’s Fox News show is like on a daily basis. It’s pure propaganda, an effort to support the president at every turn, while castigating his enemies -- particularly the press. His viewers are living in an alternate reality -- one that he’s carefully crafted to benefit Trump.

  • STUDY: EPA chief Scott Pruitt has given more interviews to Fox than to all other major TV networks combined

    Pruitt shares the Trump administration’s preference for Fox News and right-wing media

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has appeared on Fox News twice as often as on other cable and broadcast networks combined, and he has frequently granted interviews to right-wing talk radio shows and other climate-denying outlets, Media Matters has found.

    Pruitt’s media strategy is right in line with that of his boss. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump eschewed mainstream media outlets; it's a pattern his administration has continued since the election, favoring conservative and right-wing media outlets that are friendly to President Trump's agenda. By following the same approach, Pruitt has been able to push misinformation, avoid tough questioning, and appeal to the president’s political base.

    Pruitt appeared on Fox News twice as often as he did on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC combined

    Scott Pruitt has been a guest on Fox News a total of 12 times since his confirmation. From February 17, when he was sworn in, to August 14, Pruitt made twice as many appearances on Fox News (12) as he did on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC combined (6).* With the exception of two appearances on Fox News Sunday, Pruitt rarely faced tough questions on Fox News and was able to use the network as a platform for pushing misleading talking points without rebuttal. Pruitt appeared most frequently on Fox & Friends, Trump’s favorite show, which some journalists have criticized as “state TV” and “a daily infomercial for the Trump presidency” for its sycophantic coverage of the president and his administration. Pruitt made the following appearances on Fox News:

    By comparison, Pruitt made only six appearances on the other major cable and broadcast television networks combined. From the time Pruitt took the helm at the EPA through August 14, he was a guest just six times total on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and NBC, and he made no appearances at all on CBS. On each of these non-Fox programs, Pruitt faced questions either about whether Trump still believes climate change is a hoax or about Pruitt's own views on climate change. In response, Pruitt either avoided answering the question or repeated his “lukewarmer” stance that climate change is happening but we don’t know how much is human-caused. In all but one of these appearances, Pruitt repeated false or misleading talking points about the Paris climate agreement. Here are Pruitt's guest appearances on cable news and broadcast networks other than Fox:

    • One appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room on February 28.
    • One appearance on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper on June 1.
    • One appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on June 6.
    • Two appearances on ABC’s This Week on March 26 and June 4.
    • One appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on June 4.

    *Pruitt’s appearance on Meet the Press aired on both NBC and MSNBC, but for the purposes of this study, we only counted it as an NBC appearance.

    Pruitt has been a frequent guest on national right-wing talk radio shows

    Pruitt has also been a frequent guest on nationally broadcast right-wing talk radio shows since his confirmation, Media Matters found. We examined the top 10 shows listed on Talkers.com's Top Talk Audiences list, as well as numerous shows broadcast on the SiriusXM Patriot channel, and found the following:

    • Three appearances on Salem Radio Network’s The Hugh Hewitt Show on March 29, May 11, and June 2.
    • Two appearances on Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade Show on April 27 and May 19.
    • One appearance on SiriusXM Patriot’s David Webb Show on April 26.
    • One appearance on SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Daily on June 5.
    • One appearance on Westwood One’s The Savage Nation on June 1.

    All of these hosts or outlets have denied climate change:

    • Hugh Hewitt has a years-long record of climate denial: He wrote in a 2011 blog post that “we don’t know” how much humans contribute to global warming, adding “if it will be harmful or if there's anything we can do about it.” Hewitt also downplayed the threat of climate change in a September 2016 episode of his show in which he said that warming might be "a real problem over 500 years."
    • Brian Kilmeade has denied climate change, both as a host on his radio show and as a co-host on Fox & Friends. On a 2013 episode of his radio show (then called Kilmeade & Friends), Kilmeade suggested that only “corrupt” climatologists accept human-caused climate change. On the same day, Kilmeade disputed on Fox & Friends that it is “settled scientific collective thought” that human activity causes climate change. 
    • On the January 12, 2017, episode of the David Webb Show, Webb cast doubt on the scientific consensus around climate change, arguing that it's not significant that the vast majority of climate scientists publishing peer-reviewed research agree on the human causes of warming: "You can have 99 percent of peer-reviewed, but it doesn’t mean that the one percent like that guy named Copernicus won’t be correct about the fact that the Earth was not flat and we were not the center of the universe.”
    • Breitbart.com has a long track record of pushing blatant climate science misinformation and attacking climate scientists and climate science, calling researchers “talentless low-lives” and “abject liars” and climate change a “hoax.” Breitbart is also a go-to outlet for fossil fuel industry-funded academics who want to get publicity for their work.
    • Michael Savage has echoed Trump’s position on climate change, calling it a “scam” and a “hoax,” and has urged the president to continue denying that humans are the cause of global warming. During his June 1 interview with Scott Pruitt, Savage repeated the denier argument that human-made climate change is disproven by samples from the Vostok ice core in Antarctica and criticized Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for promoting “fake science.” In response, Pruitt appeared to endorse Savage’s views and floated the idea of having a "red team" of skeptical scientists debate a "blue team" of mainstream climate scientists, a proposal Pruitt pushed again a few days later on Breitbart’s radio program:
    MICHAEL SAVAGE (HOST): Please explain to me how come ancient core samples from the Antarctic show that there was climate change going on hundreds of thousands of years before man industrialized. [Whitehouse] would not have an answer for us, Mr. Pruitt. The science is fake science that they’ve been foisting upon a gullible public.
    SCOTT PRUITT: You know what’s interesting, Michael? There was a great article in The Wall Street Journal to your point, by Steven Koonin, a scientist at NYU, called “red team/blue team.” I don’t know if you saw it or not. But he proposed that we should have a red team/blue team approach with respect to CO2. We should have red team scientists and blue team scientists, in an open setting, debate, discuss, and have an open discussion about what do we know, what don’t we know, and the American people deserve truth.
    SAVAGE: Amen to that, because we’ve had no debate whatsoever. All Obama told us was 98 percent of scientists agree. So what? There was a time when 100 percent of scientists said the Earth is flat. Did that make them right?
    PRUITT: No, look, I mean the reason there’s not consensus, through policy in Washington, D.C., is because, truly, the American people don’t trust what has happened in the past several years with respect to regulatory policy and this issue.

    Pruitt’s right-wing radio appearances have extended beyond nationally broadcast shows. E&E News reported in May that Pruitt appeared on “the local morning talk radio show of a North Dakota blogger who described the Obama administration's EPA as an enemy to the well-being of his state.” ThinkProgress noted that during a “state listening tour” in North Dakota earlier this month, “Pruitt stopped by the conservative talk radio show What’s On Your Mind to share his thoughts on a number of EPA-related issues.” During that conversation, Pruitt referred to the “so-called settled science” of climate change.

    And on August 10, Pruitt appeared on a Texas radio show, Politico reported, where he said his staff will assess the "accuracy" of a major federal climate report that's been drafted by scientists from 13 agencies. “Frankly this report ought to be subjected to peer-reviewed, objective-reviewed methodology and evaluation,” he said, ignoring the fact that the report has already undergone extensive peer review. Pruitt also used his appearance on the show to cast doubt on climate science in general.

    Pruitt has given interviews to other climate-denying outlets, including online publications and cable business shows

    In addition to his June interview on Breitbart’s radio show, Pruitt granted the Breitbart website an interview in March.

    Pruitt also sat for a lengthy video interview in July with the fossil fuel-funded Daily Caller, another denialist online outlet. And he gave an interview in May to The Daily Signal, an online news outlet run by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that casts doubt on climate change.

    Besides his appearances on cable news shows, Pruitt also went on cable business shows and networks that serve as platforms for climate denial -- most notably CNBC’s Squawk Box, where he told climate-denying host Joe Kernen that he did not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. Pruitt has also frequently given interviews on Fox Business Network, which mirrors Fox News’ denialist stance on global warming. Pruitt made the following appearances on the Fox Business Network:

    Pruitt’s courting of conservative media is “on an entirely different level” from predecessors

    Scott Waldman of E&E News reported that after “weeks of blowback” from Pruitt’s appearance on Squawk Box, the EPA chief “shifted his media appearances to friendlier venues,” a move that “allowed him to tee off on a favorite series of talking points: Obama's energy policy was ‘America second,’ energy industry innovations have reduced the U.S. carbon footprint, the so-called war on coal is now over, EPA's job is to encourage business growth in concert with the environment, and the era of punitive action against energy companies is over.” Waldman also noted that Pruitt’s “courting of conservative media is on an entirely different level” from previous EPA administrators. From Waldman’s article:

    To be sure, all administrations seek out friendly press. President Obama talked about health care on the "Between Two Ferns" comedy program with Zach Galifianakis, which Republicans criticized as undignified. And former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy granted exclusive interviews to left-leaning outlets like Mother Jones and Grist.

    But critics say Pruitt's courting of conservative media is on an entirely different level.

    […]

    Liz Purchia, a former EPA spokeswoman under the Obama administration, said it's extremely unusual to place an administrator only on partisan outlets. She noted that McCarthy regularly interacted with reporters from outlets that produced coverage EPA officials did not appreciate.

    […]

    "Only talking to far right-wing media outlets, they are only talking to a small group of Americans that regularly follow them, and they are intentionally going to reporters who will only ask them questions they want to hear and aren't speaking to the broader American people about their actions," Purchia said.

    In Mother Jones, Rebecca Leber also reported that “since taking office, Pruitt has almost exclusively relied on a small number of conservative media outlets to tell an upbeat version of his leadership at the EPA, with occasional detours into the Sunday news shows,” creating “an echo chamber cheerleading the EPA’s regulatory rollbacks, Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, and its newfound anti-science denial.”

    Leber also quoted Purchia remarking on how Pruitt’s approach to media interviews “isolates him from most Americans and instead plays to Trump’s base”:

    Liz Purchia, an Obama-era EPA communications staffer, says the EPA’s attention to right-wing audiences resembles Trump’s tactics at the White House. “They’re tightly controlling [Pruitt’s] public events and interviews, which isolates him from most Americans and instead plays to Trump’s base,” Purchia said in an email. “They’re not trying to use communications tactics to reach a broad audience.”

    Charts by Sarah Wasko

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched the following terms in Nexis, iQ Media, and TVEyes to find Scott Pruitt's on-air TV appearances from the date of his swearing in as EPA Administrator on February 17 to August 14: “Pruitt,” "EPA administrator," "E.P.A. administrator," "EPA chief," "E.P.A. chief," "EPA head," "E.P.A. head," "head of the EPA," "head of the E.P.A.," "head of the Environmental Protection Agency," "Environmental Protection Agency Administrator," or "Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency." We did not count instances of networks airing Pruitt’s appearance at the White House’s June 2 press briefing.

    For radio appearances, Matters Matters searched the same terms in Veritone for the top 10 programs in Talkers.com's Top Talk Audiences list and the following programs that air on SiriusXM Patriot: Breitbart News Daily, David Webb Show, Brian Kilmeade Show, and The Wilkow Majority.

  • STUDY: Voting rights coverage was dominated by Trump's lies and ignored systemic problems

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs and broadcast morning shows and nightly newscasts found that discussions of voting rights and issues related to voting featured misinformation pushed by Republican lawmakers and were dominated by President Donald Trump’s false claims about voter fraud and noncitizen voting. Additionally, coverage also lacked discussions of gerrymandering, the impact of voter suppression on the 2016 election, and laws on the state level to curb voting rights.

  • Fox’s “investigation” of its Seth Rich reporting is an obvious, predictable sham

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News’ employees, reports CNN’s Oliver Darcy, are “perplexed” with the state of an ongoing internal investigation into their network’s since-retracted May reporting on the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. A lawsuit filed against the network by one of the report’s subjects thrust the story back into the news this week, and beset by a new wave of criticism, Fox’s journalists want their questions answered: Why Fox has not given a public accounting of why it published a report, based on shoddy evidence, indicating Rich was in contact with WikiLeaks shortly before he was killed? Why does Malia Zimmerman, the reporter who wrote the story, continue to publish pieces on  FoxNews.com? Did a “top editor” review the story before its publication? And most of all, why has no one has been fired over the journalistic disaster nearly three months after it imploded?

    The answer to all these questions is the same: That’s the way Fox operates.

    Fox does not conduct internal investigations because the network’s executives want to get to the bottom of failures and hold people accountable. Fox conducts investigations when the heat is on and executives need to make it look like they are doing something about it. Their reviews are a public relations exercise that give them time to assess whether the level of criticism demands action, not an effort to maintain high ethical standards.

    If Fox was actually serious about maintaining its journalistic integrity after descending into the sewer by promoting long-debunked Rich conspiracy theories, the network would have long since fired Zimmerman, the story’s editor, and Sean Hannity, the Fox host who kept promoting the story long after it fell apart.

    CNN had a story about Anthony Scaramucci fall apart in late June. The network’s response to the situation was very different from Fox’s interminable Rich review. CNN’s piece was published, investigated, and retracted over the course of a weekend. By that Monday, the story’s reporter, editor, and the head of the investigations division -- all highly credentialled veteran journalists -- had resigned. On Fox’s airwaves, this was seen as a sign of weakness, evidence of CNN’s “major credibility crisis,” as Hannity put it. But that’s what real news outlets do when they screw up -- figure out what went wrong as quickly and thoroughly as possible, and hold their journalists accountable.

    That’s not how things work at Fox. The network killed its internal investigation into sexual harassment after firing CEO Roger Ailes last year, choosing to, as Vanity Fair put it, get “the revenue machine back on track” once the media firestorm died down rather than expanding its assessment to examine Fox’s broader culture. A similar investigation into Bill O’Reilly bought the network time to assess the blowback the reports that he had sexually harassed colleagues had caused; once it became clear that ongoing advertiser boycotts threatened the bottom line, the longtime star host was shown the door. Faced with a decades-long culture problem the network did as little as possible to stop the immediate criticism, using these internal reviews as a tool to manage the blowback.

    The review Fox launched in the wake of its bogus Rich story focuses on the quality of the journalism the network produced, not the horrendous behavior of its employees. But the principle of the investigation remains the same: It was an effort to defuse widespread public criticism, not to get to the bottom of what happened and punish those responsible.

    As CNN’s Darcy explains, it should have been extremely easy for Fox to have done a quick, comprehensive investigation into its Rich reporting, if that was what executives wanted to do. The network employs all the key players involved in producing the story, and presumably it has access to Zimmerman’s notes and communications. The simplest explanation for why the review yielded no result is that it was a sham. Perhaps the network went through the motions, looked into the claims a bit, then sat on its findings; perhaps Fox announced an investigation and simply never followed through. Either way, the point was to stall, to act like it was doing something and wait for the rest of the press to move on. That worked, until the lawsuit put the network’s reporting back under the spotlight. Maybe now the heat has risen high enough that Fox will actually have to act, though it’s certainly possible those in charge are hoping attention will shift again and they can continue to make no response.

    It is extremely unusual for such a review to happen at Fox in the first place. When the network’s reporting is bogus and there is enough attention on the failure, Fox will usually issue an apology, as anchor Bret Baier did last year after his report that Hillary Clinton was on the verge of being indicted collapsed. In a more extreme case, as we saw with senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano’s nonsense claim that a British intelligence service had spied on Donald Trump on President Barack Obama’s behalf, the network might issue a brief suspension.

    But that’s as far as accountability tends to go at Fox -- as a senior network source explained to Darcy, “No one ever gets fired from Fox for publishing a story that isn't true.” And the higher up in the network’s pantheon you are, the less chance you will be held to account. It seems significant that while Fox’s staffers are whispering to Darcy about how shameful it is that Zimmerman remains on the payroll, no one even bothers to suggest that there should be repercussions for Hannity, who melted down over the story, continuing to trumpet it after key details were called into question, and never admitted fault or apologized. If this investigation is serious, it should end with his termination.

    "I think the lack of transparency is not that surprising," the senior Fox News employee told Darcy. "But it really forces the question, how much journalistic integrity does Fox News really have?” Not much, pal. Welcome to the party.

  • 22 ways Sean Hannity has tried to undermine the Russia probes

    And counting...

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News host Sean Hannity has been one of President Donald Trump’s biggest propagandists and defenders, lashing out at the president’s perceived enemies and critics to defend his actions and policies.

    But Hannity has not defended Trump on any issue more staunchly than on the ongoing controversy surrounding Trump and his administration’s possible ties to Russia, which the Justice Department and both chambers of Congress are investigating. Hannity has sunk to unprecedented levels to undermine these investigations. He has made up often inconsistent conspiracy theories about who actually was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, has hyped dubious scandals involving former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama, has attacked former FBI Director James Comey and the special counsel for the Russia probe, Robert Mueller, and has even suggested that collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is fine. Here are 22 examples of Hannity ignoring facts, promoting falsehoods and conspiracies, and attempting to cast blame on others in order to defend, deflect, and downplay accusations that Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the U.S election.

    1. Hannity has repeatedly pushed the conspiracy theory that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich, and not Russia, was involved in the hacking of DNC emails and that he was murdered as retribution for providing the emails to WikiLeaks. Even after Rich’s family asked him to stop, Hannity continued to push the conspiracy theory and even promoted dubious figure Kim Dotcom’s conspiracy theories about Rich, which were picked up by multiple fringe media outlets and Reddit users. A recent lawsuit from a Fox contributor, who was quoted pushing the conspiracy theory in a since-retracted FoxNews.com article, alleged that some of the talking points used by Hannity about Rich were crafted by a GOP donor in order to undermine allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election.

    2. In June, Hannity said that even if the Trump campaign had “talked to somebody in Russia” about releasing hacked Clinton emails, “Is that a crime?”

    3. In March, Hannity suggested that the CIA framed Russia for 2016 election interference, a conspiracy theory pushed by Breitbart.

    4. After former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified before the Senate that she warned the Trump administration about then-national security adviser Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russian officials, Hannity tried to downplay it by claiming the Obama administration had unlawfully “unmasked” Flynn and other officials caught in surveillance.

    5. Hannity has repeatedly brought up so-called “Clinton scandals” to distract his viewers from issues surrounding the Trump administration. Hannity has falsely claimed that Clinton committed multiple felonies, that the Clinton Foundation got millions of dollars due to a uranium deal with Russia (a falsehood which Trump has since pushed), and has wildly speculated about how "damning" FBI documents about the probe into Clinton’s private email server must have been.

    6. After Trump fired Comey, Hannity immediately defended the move, smearing Comey as “very lucky that President Trump kept him around this long because of his now unhinged and very erratic behavior.” A week later, as Trump was being scrutinized for his decision, Hannity again called Comey “a national embarrassment” and “an utter and complete failure” who “deserved to be fired.”

    7. When Trump issued a threat on Twitter suggesting that he may have recorded tapes of his conversations with Comey, Hannity called it one of the “most brilliant … tweets in the history of mankind.”

    8. In May, Hannity promoted a highly dubious claim from far-right troll Jack Posobiec that Comey leaked classified information to the media and dropped a supposed probe into former national security adviser Susan Rice because it would have implicated him too, saying Comey “did nothing about the violation of fourth amendment privacy rights, and of course, leaking of classified information, which is a crime.”

    9. After the revelations that Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting during the presidential campaign with Russians to get supposedly damaging information on Clinton, Hannity pushed a false claim originating from pro-Trump fringe media (and which Trump’s legal team encouraged) saying the meeting was some kind of a Democratic set-up against the Trumps and that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was somehow involved in the plot.

    10. Hannity tried to downplay the Trump Jr. meeting by falsely claiming that Clinton’s presidential campaign and the DNC had colluded more closely with the Ukrainian government than Trump had with Russia.

    11. Hannity dubiously claimed that “the Russian lawyer” in the Trump Jr. meeting “didn't give the Trump organization any information whatsoever,” and allowed Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow to claim Trump Jr. could have been the victim of “a blackmail job.”

    12. Hannity has repeatedly claimed that the so-called “deep state” is out to get Trump, even saying that “a soft coup is underway" against Trump with "sinister forces quickly aligning in what is becoming now, in my mind, a clear and present danger” to Trump.

    13. In June, Hannity promoted another false talking point from Posobiec, spread by fake news purveyors and other figures in the far-right fringe, that Comey said in May that Trump never asked him to halt any FBI probe.

    14. After Comey testified before the Senate about Trump firing him and the release of memos describing his interactions with the president, Hannity invited Trump Jr. on his radio show to smear Comey as "weak and feckless."

    15. When The Washington Post reported on June 14 that Mueller was investigating Trump for potential obstruction of justice, Hannity called it the "biggest act ... of retribution we have ever seen from the deep state in the history of this country."

    16. As the meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian officials was under scrutiny, Hannity asked Vice President Mike Pence on his radio show to get Clinton investigated rather than “Russia, Russia, Russia.”

    17. On July 24, Hannity urged his viewers to harass journalists who had been reporting Trump-Russia stories, saying to “write a message to their bosses” and “take to the social media.”

    18. Two days after pro-Trump website The Gateway Pundit and multiple fake news purveyors claimed in July that a “mysterious IT specialist” published a report proving Russia did not hack the DNC, Hannity said on his radio show that “there are reports out there that” the hacking of the DNC emails “was all done domestically.”

    19. In July, Hannity gave credulity to Fox correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera’s conspiracy theory that a former IT staffer for former DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) could have been the source of the DNC emails Wikileaks published, asking, “Doesn’t that blow the whole [Russia narrative] out of water?”

    20. Hannity has repeatedly hosted reporters from pro-Trump outlet Circa News, owned by conservative media giant Sinclair Broadcasting, who have discussed supposed “improprieties by former President Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice and fired FBI Director James Comey, and [have cast] doubt on rival media reports of possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia,” according to The Daily Beast. Most recently, Hannity hosted a Circa reporter on his show who dubiously hyped supposed wrongdoing by former Obama aide Ben Rhodes.

    21. Hannity has called for Mueller’s investigation to be shut down, claiming that “there is no way that this investigation can be fair or objective” because Mueller will “side with” Comey. He has also alleged that the investigation is biased because some members on Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats (Trump and his family have also donated thousands of dollars to Democrats.)

    22. Hannity has suggested Mueller is engaging in criminal acts.

  • Fox News hosts have a special grand jury rule for Donald Trump

    Grand juries are an "undemocratic farce" when it comes to Trump but an absolute necessity for Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Gregg Jarrett attacked the grand jury recently formed for the special counsel investigation into Trump, calling it “an undemocratic farce,” “one-sided,” and “the antithesis of justice” despite the fact that numerous Fox hosts and personalities previously calling for grand juries to look into Hillary Clinton. In fact, just yesterday Jarrett called for a grand jury to investigate “Clinton, Comey, Lynch and others,” writing:

    How could downloading more than a hundred classified documents onto Clinton’s private and unsecured email server not constitute crimes under the Espionage Act? Why were five people given immunity while others invoked the Fifth Amendment, yet no grand jury was empaneled?

    Other examples of the double standard include:

    Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow on Hannity: “A grand jury needs to be impaneled” to investigate Hillary Clinton.

    Fox’s Jeanine Pirro on Hannity: “A grand jury should be investigating” Hillary Clinton right now.”

  • The email that gives away the pro-Trump media’s Seth Rich game

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A Republican operative’s email, revealed in a new lawsuit, turns the subtext behind the last year of Seth Rich conspiracy theories into text: Conservatives have been cynically deploying the murder of the Democratic National Committee staffer in an effort to protect President Donald Trump from the damning Russia story.

    Conspiracy theorists have claimed since shortly after Rich’s July 2016 murder that he had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks and had been killed in retaliation; according to U.S. intelligence agencies, hackers linked to Russian intelligence stole the emails as part of an effort by the Kremlin to help Trump win the election. Originally floated on Internet message boards, the story was amplified by key Trump media allies like Fox News’ Sean Hannity, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, and the conspiracy site Infowars.

    From the beginning, Trump’s allies used these conspiracy theories to try to kick up dust around the Russia story. As more stolen Democratic emails entered the public sphere, they cited Rich’s murder and his purported ties to WikiLeaks as pushback against the crystallizing evidence that Russian intelligence services were playing a key role in the election. But at the same time, the conspiracy theorists often presented themselves as the ones who really had the best interest of the Rich family at heart; the only ones interested in finding the real killer.

    Fox gave the story new life in mid-May when it produced reporting prompted by the efforts of Ed Butowsky -- a Trump supporter and unpaid Fox commentator. Butowsky had hired Rod Wheeler, a private investigator and Fox contributor, to investigate Rich’s murder; Wheeler was cited in the network’s May 15 FoxNews.com report that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks.

    The president’s media sycophants immediately sought to use the Rich story to defuse the Russia allegations. But Fox had to retract the story after it fell apart, and a humiliated Wheeler is now suing Butowsky and the network for damaging his reputation.

    Wheeler’s lawsuit reveals that Butowsky’s concern with the Rich investigation had little to do with getting elusive justice for the murdered DNC staffer. It was a political operation aimed at protecting the president from the Russia scandal -- one that Fox was eager to support.

    Butowsky made that clear in an email he sent to a list of Fox staff hours before the FoxNews.com’s story’s publication. “One of the big conclusions we need to draw from this is that the Russians did not hack our computer systems and ste[a]l emails,” he wrote, “and there was no collusion like trump with the Russians.” The pro-Trump press had been searching for a way to defuse the collusion bomb, and Butowsky hoped he had found it.

    In the days that followed, pro-Trump Fox hosts Steve Doocy, who had received Butowsky’s email, and Sean Hannity, the most prominent champion of Rich conspiracy theories, promoted the story using Butowsky’s language (emphasis added):

    • May 16: Doocy reports, “For a long time on the internet and elsewhere, he has been rumored to have been the one who gave WikiLeaks the DNC emails. So, if that is true, and we don't know yet, it looks like Russia didn't give it to WikiLeaks. It was Seth Rich, perhaps.”
    • May 16: Hannity claims that “explosive developments” in the Rich story “could completely shatter the narrative that in fact WikiLeaks was working with the Russians, or there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
    • May 18: Hannity claims: “If Rich, in fact, was WikiLeaks' source for DNC email leaks, it would confirm Russia was not involved. … Wouldn’t that blow the Russian collusion narrative that the media has been pushing out of the water?
    • May 19: Hannity claims: “What if it was somebody that was so disgruntled in the DNC at how they cheated Bernie and how the fix was in, if that turned out to be true that somebody did that, wouldn't that completely wipe out the entire Russia lie we've heard for months and months?

    The lawsuit also adds new details that suggest that the story, published amid a slew of negative stories about the president and Russia, was deliberately timed to blunt the Russia debacle:

    • On May 8, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified to Congress about Russian interference. Yates testified that she had warned the White House in January that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn could be "essentially blackmailed by the Russians."

    • On May 9, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading the federal criminal investigation into whether Trump’s advisers had colluded with Russia.

    • On May 10, according to Wheeler’s suit, Butowsky and the Fox reporter he had been working with told him they had “supposedly secured a source at the FBI who confirmed that emails were sent between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks.”

    • On May 11, Wheeler says he saw a draft of the story. The same day, Trump told NBC News that he had fired Comey because he was unsatisfied with Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation, and The New York Times reported that Trump had asked Comey to pledge loyalty to him over a private dinner at the White House.

    • On May 15, Washington reeled from a report that Trump had revealed classified information to Russian diplomats in an Oval Office briefing.

    • Later that day, Fox published the Rich story.

    Conservatives wanted to help a president badly damaged by mounting evidence that he owed his election to a foreign adversary. Rich was just a pawn in their game -- he was an instrument they could use to further their argument. There are no limits to the depths the president’s media allies are willing to sink in their quest to defend the indefensible.

  • Fox News faces internal revolt over Seth Rich conspiracy: “People need to start getting canned”

    Fox employee to CNN: "It really forces the question, how much journalistic integrity does Fox News really have?"

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    According to a new CNN report, Fox News employees are anxiously waiting for the results of an internal investigation the network launched after it was forced to retract a baseless conspiracy theory connecting the murder of a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer to the alleged hacking of emails at the DNC.

    On May 15, Fox 5 DC and FoxNews.com ran stories attempting to link the murder of Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich to the email hacking of the DNC, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Fox was forced to retract the story and a lawsuit was later filed alleging the story included fabricated quotes in order distract from the further evidence showing Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had ties to the Russian government.

    Even after the story was retracted, Fox host Sean Hannity continued to promote the narrative and made it clear his reasoning was to undermine the Trump/Russia narrative. In May, The Daily Beast spoke with Fox News staffers who called Hannity’s unhinged peddling of the conspiracy theory “embarrassing” for the network, “downright heartless,” and “gross.”

    Now more than two months after the story’s retraction, Fox News employees are still waiting for answers … and for people to be held responsible. From the August 2 CNN report:

    According to half a dozen people spread throughout Fox News who spoke with CNN, all this has left employees at the network wondering what is going on with the investigation -- and why there has not been an announcement either of disciplinary action or a finding that there was no wrongdoing. "People need to start getting canned over the [Seth Rich] thing," an employee told CNN. "What a mess."

    "They don't want to acknowledge that they f**ked up," a senior Fox News employee said, explaining that either a top editor didn't see the story before publication, as would be typical procedure, or a top editor saw the article and approved it. "Both situations are really bad."

    The sources who spoke with CNN said they felt that the significant misstep on the Rich story continues to haunt the network, and to put a cloud over their own work. And the lawsuit filed Tuesday, full of its stunning allegations, has breathed new life into the controversy."If it's true, it's really messed up," one on-air personality told CNN of the allegations in the lawsuit."It stirs up the same embarrassment as when the story first got peddled," added another on-air personality. "It makes people doubt Fox."

    That said, employees recognize the secretive nature that has characterized the probe into the Rich story, and lack of disciplinary action, seems to fit into the normal operating procedures for Fox News.

  • What the Seth Rich conspiracy theory is, why it matters, and why Sean Hannity must be the one to pay the price

    Enough with the bullshit

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE


    Media Matters

    Political operatives have dishonestly seized on a murder to undercut the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election -- and Sean Hannity has been the point person for that cynical campaign, a lead steer for the nonsense.

    Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer, was murdered July 10, 2016. Within days, initially at the behest of anonymous users on Reddit and 4chan, his murder would be used as the basis for a massive right-wing conspiracy theory, with the eventual purpose of undermining and discrediting the notion that Russia illicitly interfered in the 2016 presidential election in part by hacking DNC, DCCC, and John Podesta emails that WikiLeaks later published. And no one has done more to push this conspiracy theory than Fox News host Sean Hannity -- even after Fox News retracted a story about it that was published on its website.

    Hannity had long dabbled in conspiracy theories about Seth Rich’s murder, but he went into overdrive when, on May 15, Fox 5 DC and FoxNews.com ran stories linking Rich to WikiLeaks based largely on the statements of then-Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler. This was just days after former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified to Congress about Russian interference.

    In the week after that story was published (and quickly fell apart), Hannity repeatedly pushed the conspiracy theory on his television show, his radio show, and his Twitter account. Rich was referenced numerous times on his Fox News television show, and the story was hinted at in countless others.

    Hannity’s coverage was so relentless that he was condemned by some of his coworkers, who reportedly told The Daily Beast that the host was “‘embarrassing’ the network, and the promotion of the Rich conspiracy theory is senselessly cruel to a grieving family.” Rich’s brother personally asked Hannity to stop pushing the conspiracy theories.

    During all this, Hannity repeatedly made clear that he was pushing the story because it undermined the Trump/Russian narrative. (In fact, Hannity went back to the story in June and made the same point.)

    After more than a week of flogging this nonsense, Hannity said on his television show that he would stop talking about Rich “for now.” Minutes later, he promised on Twitter to keep going:

    All this unfolded in the public sphere and proves Sean Hannity’s volatility. And look: Sean Hannity has long been a serial misinformer who has pushed lies and dishonest smears. He has been completely shameless in shilling for the far-right. Hannity has toyed around with basically every conspiracy theory that the far-right has proffered.

    But now we have evidence that the deceit goes even deeper. And while Hannity is not named as a defendant, his story is inseparable from the story at hand.

    We know that political operative Ed Butowsky played a key role in the retracted Fox story that set Hannity off on his conspiracy crusade in May. According to a lawsuit filed by Wheeler -- the Fox News contributor who served as a key source for the claims connecting Wikileaks to Rich in the May 15 Fox story -- that story was the product of a cynical attempt by Ed Butowsky, Fox News, and the White House “to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration's ties to the Russian government.” And once that story was published, Hannity was its chief promoter.

    We know that Butowsky coordinated for him and Wheeler to meet then-press secretary Sean Spicer in the White House. We know that Butowsky sent talking points to Fox News hosts and producers detailing how to talk about the conspiracy theory in a way that undermined the reporting from credible outlets about Russian interference in the election. We know that in the days after Butowsky sent that message, his words were repeated once on Fox & Friends and multiple times on Hannity.

    In short, we know that Hannity is not just a dishonest, volatile pro-Trump hack, but that he is a dangerous propagandist willing to do or say anything to shore up Trump support with his audience on a daily basis. Nothing Hannity says, to his audience or advertisers, can ever be trusted. He is both post-factual and post-ethical. There is nowhere that Sean Hannity will not go for political convenience. When Hannity takes to the air, there is nothing that he will not aid or abet to help Trump.

    Journalism, regardless of its political consequences, deserves extensive protection from financial retaliation. Propaganda does not. And Sean Hannity is a rank propagandist. As Angelo Carusone wrote, if Fox News executives choose to not do the right thing and fire Sean Hannity, the obligation is on sponsors and the people at large to force their hand.

    Enough is enough.

  • Prime-time cable programs ignored the voices of activists in their health care coverage

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    During last week’s health care “vote-a-rama,” prime-time cable news coverage largely neglected the voices of activists, despite their crucial role in helping to block Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    Media Matters reviewed four nights of cable news coverage -- from 5 to 11 p.m. -- between when the “motion to proceed” was passed (which opened debate on possible plans to overturn the ACA) and the GOP “skinny repeal” bill was defeated in the Senate. During those four nights of coverage, cable news programs largely failed to include the perspectives of activists, and both CNN and Fox News disregarded these voices altogether:

    • CNN and Fox News did not host a single activist over four nights of health care coverage

    • MSNBC hosted five activists during the same time period, but they accounted for less than 10 percent of its prime-time guests included in discussions about health care.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Cable news coverage of health care has consistently disregarded diverse voices in favor of pundits

    Throughout Republican efforts to overturn the ACA, cable news repeatedly failed to offer diverse voices. Guests in conversations about health care were predominately white male pundits, while African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and women -- all of whom stand to lose disproportionately if the ACA is overturned -- received far less screen time.

    Additionally, cable news programs often ignored the personal stories of those that would be most affected by Republican health care policies, choosing to focus on the legislative process, at the expense of the human cost of the GOP’s repeated actions to undo the ACA. As Senate Republicans searched for a way to overturn former President Barack Obama’s signature health care act last week, cable coverage continued to erase the voices of those most intimately involved in the health care debate. CNN and Fox News failed to include a single activist amongst the combined 97 guest appearances on the channels during discussions of health care, and while MSNBC did host five activists, they made up less than 10 percent of the network's total guests hosted during prime-time to discuss health care.  

    Activists played a pivotal role in saving the ACA

    While this isn't the first time cable news failed to seek out the voices of activists, their disregard for activists' voices is shocking considering the influential role they have played throughout the health care battle. Employees and volunteers for organizations like MoveOn, ADAPT, and Planned Parenthood organized health care rallies across the country, and helped organize tens of thousands of calls to House and Senate offices on behalf of the ACA. Activists also kept constant pressure on elected officials, staging all-night protests in lawmakers' offices, and showing up to elected officials’ town hall meetings and other public appearances. Activists played a crucial role in pressuring Senators to vote no on repeal and replace bills, and in keeping public attention on health care in midst of numerous distractions, like the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Activists deserve credit for their role in the health care battle, and comprehensive news coverage needs to include their voices.

    Methodology 

    Media Matters searched Nexis for mentions of “health care,” “the Affordable Care Act,” “Obamacare,” “Republican health,” “GOP health,” “the Better Care Reconciliation Act,” or “BRCA” on prime-time cable news between July 25 (after the Senate passed the motion to proceed to debate) and July 28 (after the failure of “skinny repeal”). Segments were coded if they included a significant discussion of the Republican health care bill. “Significant discussion” was defined as at least two speakers in the segment engaging on the topic with one another. Guests that partook in discussions that included a “significant discussion” about health care were included in this study. Guests were considered “activists” if they were affiliated with a group actively working against GOP efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. 

    Prime-time cable news refers to CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC weekday programming between 5 and 11 p.m. 

  • A GOP operative asked Fox personalities to push a bogus Russia/Seth Rich talking point. Here are four times they did.

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A new lawsuit against Fox News alleges that Ed Butowsky -- a Trump supporter and unpaid Fox News commentator -- concocted Fox News’ discredited story that “Democrats might have been connected to [Seth] Rich’s death,” “which took flight online and ran in segments across” the network.

    According to the lawsuit, Butowsky worked with the network to plant the story, which claimed that Rich, the former Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer who was murdered, was in contact with WikiLeaks, which leaked committee emails during the 2016 campaign. The lawsuit states that in a May 15 email Butowsky encouraged network employees, including hosts of Fox & Friends, to draw the conclusion that "Russians did not hack our computer systems and ste[a]l emails and there was no collusion like trump with the Russians." Butowsky also allegedly sent texts to the Fox News contributor he was working with on this story, Rod Wheeler, which asked him to use the same messaging in his interviews, including in a planned appearance on Fox News' Hannity. Butowsky was apparently hoping to kill reports of the ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

    Here are four segments that aired on Fox News the days after Butowsky made his requests showing hosts Steve Doocy and Sean Hannity pushing the talking point that the Rich story meant Russia wasn’t behind the DNC hack and leaks:

    May 16: Steve Doocy: If the Seth Rich story is true, “it looks like Russia didn’t give to WikiLeaks.”

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): For a long time on the internet and elsewhere, he has been rumored to have been the one who gave WikiLeaks the DNC emails. So, if that is true, and we don't know yet, it looks like Russia didn't give it to WikiLeaks. It was Seth Rich, perhaps. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/16/17]

    May 16: Sean Hannity: “Explosive developments” in Seth Rich story “could completely shatter the narrative that in fact WikiLeaks was working with the Russians, or there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Also tonight, another massive breaking news story. Explosive developments in the mysterious murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich that could completely shatter the narrative that in fact WikiLeaks was working with the Russians, or there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Now, if true, this could become one of the biggest scandals in American history and could mean that Rich could have been murdered under very suspicious circumstances. [Fox News, Hannity, 5/16/17]

    May 18: Sean Hannity: “If Rich, in fact, was WikiLeaks' source for DNC email leaks, it would confirm Russia was not involved. … Wouldn’t that blow the Russian collusion narrative that the media has been pushing out of the water?”

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Questions continue to swirl around the mysterious murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. Now, following Rich's death, there was suspicion that he may have been the source of the DNC emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks, now -- not the Russians, as the left claims.

    [...]

    Now, if Rich, in fact, was WikiLeaks' source for the DNC email leaks, it would confirm Russia was not involved.

    [...]

    It gets more mysterious by the minute. If it was true -- we don't know yet -- if it was true that Seth Rich gave WikiLeaks the DNC emails, wouldn't that blow the whole Russia collusion narrative that the media has been pushing out of the water?

    [...]

    Based on what Julian Assange said in that Dutch interview, it sounds like he -- not 100 percent, but pretty close, to being -- to saying that "Wow, it could be Seth Rich.” [Fox News, Hannity, 5/18/17]

    May 19: Sean Hannity: “What if it was somebody that was so disgruntled in the DNC at how they cheated Bernie and how the fix was in, if that turned out to be true that somebody did that, wouldn't that completely wipe out the entire Russia lie we've heard for months and months?”

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I am not backing off asking questions even though there's an effort that nobody talk about Seth Rich. Now, I've interviewed Julian Assange on radio and TV many times, and I've asked him about where those WikiLeaks DNC emails came from that resulted in Debbie Wasserman Schultz's firing. This kid got shot in the back, they said it was a robbery, yet he had his watch, his wallet and his phone. I don't believe it's a robbery. But I asked Julian, was it the Russians? And then listen to what Julian said in a Dutch interview.

    [...]

    By the way, my thoughts and prayers go out to this family. Jay Sekulow, then I want Juan to really fully respond. If he says it's not Russia and he sounds, he comes so close to the line saying, "It was this kid." Let's put the kid out of it for a minute; I feel sorry for his family. But what if it was somebody that was so disgruntled in the DNC at how they cheated Bernie and how the fix was in, if that turned out to be true that somebody did that, wouldn't that completely wipe out the entire Russia lie we've heard for months and months? [Fox News, Hannity, 5/19/17]