Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
This is one of those cases where Fox News host Sean Hannityâs 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,Â Republican senatorsÂ know it,Â conservative columnistsÂ know it. Heâs 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. Itâs a running joke here atÂ Media MattersÂ that ifÂ you look into any criticismÂ 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,Â The New York TimesÂ reportedÂ last Wednesday. The president denied the report, as he denies all reports he considers damaging; theÂ TimesÂ stands by its work. On Thursday, NBC News matched the story andÂ added an additional detail: Hannity is one of the informal advisers Trump consults using that unsecured channel.
You may recall that communications security was theÂ single most-discussed issueÂ during the 2016 presidential elections. Trump, congressional Republicans, and right-wing commentators all loudly declared that former Secretary of State Hillary Clintonâs use of a private email server was a major breach of security and evidence of her vast criminality, driving both chants of âlock her upâ at Trumpâs rallies andÂ overwhelming media coverage of the topic.
Hannity hasÂ continued to fixateÂ on Clintonâs email server since Trumpâs election, often citing the FBIâs decision not to recommend charges despite what Hannity describes as clear proof that she âcommitted feloniesâ as evidence that Trump has been treated unfairly by special counsel Rober Muellerâs 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 agentsÂ found no evidenceÂ Clintonâs 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 wereÂ later condemnedÂ by the FBIâs inspector general. For example (all quotes via Nexis), Hannity said:
- On July 13: âAnd 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.â
- June 25: âWe know Hillary’s email server was hacked by at least six foreign intelligence service[s], so God knows where it came from.â
- May 29: âWe 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.â
- April 9: âWith 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.â
- March 19: âDid 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?â
On Wednesday, we learned that Hannityâs worst-case scenario with regard to Clintonâs server had actually occurred with regard to Trumpâs 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 hasÂ not addressedÂ either reportÂ on hisÂ Fox programÂ inÂ the weekÂ since theÂ TimesÂ 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.
Header image byÂ Sarah Wasko / Media Matters