OPINION: Welcome to the grand delusion


Sean Hannity speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. CC BY-SA 2.0

Alex Weidner

This is possibly the biggest news to hit last week. The New York Times reported that in June of 2017, President Trump ordered the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but backed off after White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II threatened to resign rather than carry out the President’s bidding.

The story published by The Times on Jan. 25 explains President Trump considered conflicts of interest that would prevent Mueller from approaching the investigation without bias. Mueller had previously resigned a membership to a Trump Golf Course, worked for the law firm representing Jared Kushner, and was interviewed for the position of FBI director the day before his appointment as special counsel.

The fallout that followed the story on Thursday has been huge. The reaction from the President’s most loyal news network has been particularly disturbing.

The commander in chief’s very own butt-kisser in chief Sean Hannity spent all of his nightly broadcast that evening avoiding the story and doubting it’s authenticity. He claimed The Times was creating a distraction.

A distraction from what? Well, let’s look at what Hannity thought was the most important news on Jan. 25, 2018.

I suffered through Hannity’s show so you didn’t have to.

First, Hannity mentions this controversy, regarding FBI agent Peter Strzok, whom Mueller removed from the special counsel investigation over possible text messages with anti-Trump sentiment. As in, Mueller took Strzok off the case for being biased, a well-informed move on his part. Somehow, Hannity just can’t let this go. While Strzok’s potential bias plays into the “witch hunt” narrative, Mueller’s immediate action in reassigning Strzok negates that.

Hannity brings up Hillary Clinton and her emails. Let’s not forget that Clinton is not the president and is not being investigated for winning the election via Russian interference.

After some tinfoil-hat conspiracy talk of an anti-Trump Deep State (mentioned the previous night), Hannity turns his focus onto what he calls “one of the biggest scandals in American history,” the mysterious Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) memo that, according to some Republicans, means the investigation into Trump-Russia collusion operated under suspicious pretenses to obtain surveillance information. This “#ReleaseTheMemo” conspiracy is just that: a conspiracy designed to undermine the special counsel investigation.

Hannity puckers up for more butt-kissing as he mentions Trump’s “rock star welcome” in Davos, Switzerland for an economic forum and MSNBC’s “downplay” of that “rock star welcome.”

The show contains over 12 minutes of discussion over the Strzok text messages and the FISA memo.

When Hannity brings in correspondent Ed Henry to finally discuss The Times article, he shows skepticism over the “anonymous sources.” Henry talks about this for two minutes before Hannity brings in two other correspondents to talk about… those text messages. Really. When they get to the Mueller firing story, he mentions “phony, anonymous sourcing.” And then his guests go back to the text messages and the secret FBI group conspiring to keep Clinton free of charge and take down Trump.

Later in the show, Hannity says that some of Fox News’ sources have confirmed The New York Times’ story. So what’s his response?

“You know, we’ll deal with this tomorrow night.”

Hannity seamlessly cuts to a story about a police chase in Arizona. Earlier he said The Times were just creating a distraction, but it seems like he’s the one doing the distracting.

So did Hannity deal with this the next night? Yeah, but he spun it so hard it may have an affect on Earth’s gravity.

“President Trump did not, let me repeat, did not fire the special counsel Robert Mueller.”

Yeah, Sean. We know. But he wanted to. Donald Trump was so afraid of getting in trouble that he sought to fire the guy investigating him. And Hannity goes on to spin it in his favor.

“Fox News tonight is reporting the president did not order Mueller to be removed.”

The rest of the Jan. 26 episode is more of the same. “Fake News CNN,” #ReleaseTheMemo and complaining about text messages and emails.

What did I learn from watching three episodes of Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News? First off, I never want to do that again. But more importantly, if there’s anyone to blame for spinning a false narrative, it’s definitely Fox News and the majority of Trump’s base. When most other major news outlets break a story, that’s not “fake news,” that’s just “the news.” Hannity and his pals at Fox are so terrified of the truth that they tiptoe around it, spinning false narratives of fake news and witch hunts.

It’s only fitting that the network dropped it’s old slogan, “Fair and Balanced,” last year.

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Twitter: @weidnertww