Sean Hannity

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  • Will right-wing media call out Georgia GOP leader for politicizing Scalise’s shooting?

    Conservatives have repeatedly slammed lawmakers “politicizing” tragedy by merely talking about gun violence in the wake of a shooting

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Right-wing media have been quick to criticize politicians and activists for “politicizing” mass shootings by talking about gun violence prevention in their wake. But after a GOP official in Georgia suggested that the June 14 shooting in Alexandria, VA, which critically injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and four others, “is going to win this election for us,” will conservatives care enough to call out the clear exploitation and politicization of the shooting?

    The Washington Post reported that ahead of the June 20 special election for a congressional seat in Georgia’s sixth district, Brad Carver, the chairman of the Republican party in a neighboring district, said, “I’ll tell you what: I think the shooting is going to win this election for us,” adding, “moderates and independents in this district are tired of left-wing extremism.”

    In the past, Fox News and others in conservative media have derided officials for “politicizing” tragedies because they spoke out about gun violence prevention in the wake of shootings. After the June 12, 2016, shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, then-Fox News contributor Stacey Dash lambasted former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for “politicizing” the shooting in order to “advance an anti-gun agenda.” After an August 2015, shooting in Virginia, Sean Hannity called out Obama, saying he “tried to politicize” the shooting by talking about gun violence. And after an October 2015 mass shooting in Oregon, Fox’s Kevin Corke criticized Obama for “politicizing” gun violence, saying, “Politicizing gun violence usually is a terrible decision.”

    Carver isn’t advocating for a solution to gun violence, but rather he is celebrating the potential political advantage the shooting could bring. Despite Carver’s blunt politicization of the shooting, it seems unlikely that right-wing media will break from their campaign against Democrat Jon Ossoff to speak out against it.

  • Conservatives need to cut the bullshit and stop exploiting a tragedy to blame the left

    Right-wing media show no self-awareness of their role in influencing violent incidents

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    James T. Hodgkinson, a man with a record of domestic violence, a legally purchased assault rifle, and a valid concealed carry permit, on June 14 opened fire on Republican congressmen and staffers practicing for the congressional baseball game.

    The FBI is still investigating the incident, but one thing is already clear about this latest example of unhinged gun violence. The overwhelming evidence of conservative media's influence on a significant number of deadly incidents makes their attempt to deflect attention from their role in creating a toxic political culture both cynical and exploitative.

    According to reports, the gunman had shared anti-Republican sentiments publicly online and had been critical of the president. Reports of the shooter’s political background immediately prompted unscrupulous right-wing hacks to pounce on the tragedy, looking to exploit the terrifying gun violence incident as a way to score cheap political points by blaming the left. In a new display of audacious defiance of reality, conservative voices have put the blame of the shooting not only on the left, but also on the press and various celebrities as well. But, blaming the left or the media for Hodgkinson’s actions is equivalent to blaming Jodie Foster for the attempted assassination of former President Ronald Reagan.

    The gimmick, however, is deplorable not just for its cynical exploitation of fear, pain and human tragedy; it’s also a hollow attempt to distract from the conservative right’s own responsibility in creating a political culture that inspires violence by fanning the flames of hatred. It’s a red herring aimed at avoiding the obvious, and very concrete, policy-centered conversation that needs to happen around gun violence.

    Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, two of the loudest conservative voices, immediately blamed the shooting on “the left” and “left-wing news media.”

    Additionally, the NRA, an organization that customarily deflects conversations about gun violence by blaming fatal shooting incidents on video games, political correctness, and strict gun laws, skirted its own precedent to also blame the left at large for the shooting.

    Right-wing figures’ opportunistic attempt to draw direct correlation from out-of-context phrases from progressive politicians to the actions of a violent man with easy access to assault weapons also points to a critical lack of self-awareness when it comes to their own role in influencing violent incidents.

    Take Byron Williams and his failed plot to shoot people at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU. Williams explicitly pointed to Glenn Beck’s now-defunct TV show and Alex Jones’ websites as the information sources that prompted his violent actions on the Tides Foundation, a relatively unknown organization that Beck repeatedly vilified on his program. Or the assassination of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, which followed continuous vitriol from former right-wing star Bill O’Reilly, who told his “audience of millions over and over again” that Tiller was “an executioner.” Or the murder of three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, CO, at the hands of Robert Dear, a man whose “paranoid delusions, misogynist beliefs, and violent fantasies” matched “perfectly” the usual narratives that come out of “Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones and Bill O’Reilly and countless far-right web sites.”

    Or the racially motivated massacre that ended nine black lives in Charleston, SC, perpetrated by a habitual commenter at the Trump-supporting, neo-Nazi outlet The Daily Stormer. After a man opened fire at a Washington, D.C., family pizzeria, it was hard to forget Alex Jones asking his audience to investigate the conspiracy theory that alleged the restaurant was hiding a child sex-trafficking ring. In the same way, Jones also exhorted Trump to use force against his opponents and threatened violence against supporters of “parasitical maggot” Bernie Sanders.

    So no, right-wingers don’t get to exploit this tragedy. They should not be able to get away with using pain and fear to avoid important policy conversations about gun access in American society. Not when the evidence of their role in promoting violence over politics is so overwhelming.

  • Trump’s media allies use attack on GOP baseball practice to delegitimize the press

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s most loyal conservative and “alt-right” media allies are blaming the mainstream press's Trump coverage for Wednesday’s attack on a Republican congressional baseball practice, with one close ally to the president even calling for banning some critical journalists from the airwaves in response. This cynical campaign is the next step in their ongoing effort to delegitimize any source of unfavorable information about the president.

    The shooter has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson, a home inspector and critic of the president with a history of domestic violence.

    Paul Joseph Watson, an editor at Alex Jones’ Infowars site, was among the first to blame media coverage for the gunman’s attack, writing on Twitter just minutes after news broke that the culprit was “Trump derangement syndrome, radicalised by mainstream media hysterics.” He later added of journalists and the left, “The blood is on their hands.”

    This cynical effort to curtail critical journalism spread from the “alt-right” fringe, through the right-wing press, to Trump’s chief propagandist at Fox News. Several of the theory’s proponents specifically pointed to the media’s coverage of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

    “The fake news media finally got what it wanted,” Mike Cernovich said on Periscope. “They’re getting their mass murderers. They’re getting the mass shooters. This is what they’ve attempted to incite for the past 18 months.” Cernovich, an “alt-right” provocateur and noted misogynist, spent the 2016 election cycle promoting “Pizzagate” smears, and now he has close ties to Trump’s White House and family.

    “I have foreseen this coming,” Rush Limbaugh told his millions-strong radio audience soon after the shooting. “You can’t continue to enrage people the way the left and predominantly the mainstream media has been doing.”

    Michael Savage, a right-wing radio host with a close relationship with Trump who regularly hosts the administration’s top officials, not only blamed the media for the shooting but also suggested that in response, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and other critical journalists should be removed from the airwaves by the federal government due to their “constant drumbeat of their hatred against Trump and Republicans.” Maddow’s program is notable for its intense focus on the Trump-Russia story.

    At Fox, Sean Hannity declared that “the biggest issue we need to address as a country is what is a record level of vicious left-wing hate that is being spewed day after day, hour after hour, by a left-wing news media that wants to destroy the president.”

    Notably, the critique these pro-Trump media figures are pushing is largely bereft of concrete examples of journalists using extreme or inciting rhetoric about the president. After making his broad indictment against the press, for example, Hannity highlighted the actions of artists and celebrities, not reporters. In other instances, the claims are simply fabricated, as with Alex Jones’ declaration that a host of newspapers have called for Trump’s death.

    Instead, the president’s allies are claiming that negative coverage in general -- and negative coverage about the Russia investigation in particular -- led to violence. This is a patently cynical ploy aimed at bolstering a political strategy that the pro-Trump media have pushed for months.

    Trump has been castigating the press and seeking to delegitimize journalists since the presidential campaign. He’s declared the media the “enemy of the American people.” His allies have been bolstering that effort every step of the way.

    And now they’re using an attack on U.S. members of Congress as a new way to promote that argument.

  • Here's how right-wing media have reacted to months of setbacks for Trump's Muslim bans

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    As President Trump's executive orders banning immigration from first seven, then six, majority-Muslim nations have moved through the U.S. court system, they've been met with a series of legal setbacks and direct action and have drawn extensive media coverage. What follows is a timeline of events surrounding the ban, with a focus on right-wing media hypocrisy, denial, and defense of the president's increasingly indefensible policy. This post will be updated.

  • Trump's media allies want him to fire special counsel Mueller - and he may be listening

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    President Donald Trump appears to be listening to right-wing media’s calls to fire Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who was appointed as special counsel in the investigation of Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

    The same day that Newsmax CEO and Trump ally Chris Ruddy was seen leaving the West Wing, he appeared on PBS Newshour saying that the president is “considering perhaps terminating the special counsel.”

    Ruddy’s announcement comes after conservative media figures called for Trump to end the investigation and fire special counsel Mueller. On Fox News Sunday, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich attacked Mueller, claiming his investigation will “be a witch hunt” and saying Congress should “abolish” the special counsel. Other conservatives argued that the president has the legal authority to fire Mueller, citing his close friendship with ousted former FBI Director James Comey.  

    Fox News host Sean Hannity devoted an entire segment of his show to attempting to “expose” Mueller’s friendship with Comey, arguing that their friendship shows not only that the special counsel should be fired, but also that the entire investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia should be shut down immediately:

    UPDATE: On the June 13 edition of CBS This Morning, Gingrich announced that Trump had called him the night before to discuss Mueller, saying, Trump "called me because I have been very clear about the fact that Mueller, hiring four Democrats, -- his first four attorneys are all Democrats, one of them worked for the Clinton Foundation. He apparently couldn't find a single pro-Trump attorney to hire, and I just think that that's a rigged game. And I think it's a mistake to pretend this is going to be a neutral investigation." Gingrich added, "In this kind of environment, I don't give the benefit of the doubt to somebody who can only hire Democrats who claims that we ought to trust him."  

  • Eric Trump retreats to Hannity after report that his charity lied about devoting all its profits to research cancer in children

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Eric Trump retreated to Fox News' Hannity -- hosted by his father’s biggest media sycophant -- to lash out after Forbes reported that charitable activity by the Eric Trump Foundation “seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors.”

    According to Forbes, filings show that through Eric’s annual charity event hosted at a Trump golf course, the Trump Organization has received more than $1.2 million. In addition, the Donald J. Trump Foundation "apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization," and more than $500,000 in donations to the Eric Trump Foundation "was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests." Eric had previously stated that his charitable activity has little overhead because it uses Trump Organization “assets 100% free of charge." President Donald Trump himself was scrutinized during the campaign, mostly by The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, for apparent self-dealing with his foundation.

    After Forbes published its report about the potentially illegal activity, Eric appeared on Fox News' Hannity and lashed out against the media and Democrats, claiming he was being “attacked” because “morality is just gone” and because Democrats “don’t have a message, they don’t have leadership, so they obstruct.” Host Sean Hannity chimed in, claiming that opponents are unfairly targeting Trump’s children because “they want to delegitimize his presidency, they want to stop his agenda, and if they can, they want to impeach him.”

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I actually would use the term, with Kathy Griffin, and a CNN anchor calling your father a “piece of shh” -- all right? -- and a conspiracy theory that every intelligence officer and top Democrats have all said there is no evidence of and thousands of hours of coverage. But they've gone after your 11-year-old brother, they've gone after your soon-to-be-born child. They've gone after you, which is fine. Don, you guys probably are more fair game. But really, your sister? And really, the first lady? And really, Kellyanne and anybody that seems to like your father? They want to, I say they want to delegitimize his presidency. They want to stop his agenda, and if they can, they want to impeach him.

    ERIC TRUMP: Who are all in this, by the way, for the right reason. I mean, look at that P.O.S. comment that you made. Somebody on CNN, an anchor on CNN, called my father on the show a piece of --. You might be an opinionated person, but you don't use profanities. You’re not a child when it comes to calling people names. I got attacked today. I’ve raised $16.3 million for St. Jude’s, 16.3. I’ve dedicated my --

    HANNITY: By the age of what?

    TRUMP: I started when I was 21. I have raised $16.3 million for the greatest hospital in the world, that’s St. Jude, and I get attacked for it. Barron gets attacked. People come out, they look at my wife; “Well, I hope she, you know, I hope the kid is aborted because God forbid there is another Trump in the world.” I mean, the manners, the lack of morals in society is awful, and honestly? I blame most of these politicians and I blame the media because it's out of control. I mean the way they act are out of control and honestly it's because the Democratic Party is sinking. And I mean that sincerely. They don't have a message, they don't have leadership, so they obstruct, and it’s just -- it's really the worst of the worst, Sean.