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Sean Hannity Has Been Dumpster Diving With Conspiracy Theorists Again

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Sean Hannity Has Been Dumpster Diving With Conspiracy Theorists Again


Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Fox News host Sean Hannity used his radio show to promote the inane conspiracy theory that “antifa agitators” who opposed the neo-Nazi and white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday were actually actors hired by a publicity firm.

The claim seems to have originated from the fever swamp of pro-Trump online message boards and social media accounts before making its way through conspiracy websites and onto Hannity’s program.

For some reason, all parties involved in promoting the moronic claim have interpreted a Craigslist ad posted August 7 by the firm Crowds on Demand which offered $25 per hour to “actors and photographers” to participate in events in the “Charlotte, NC area” as evidence that the firm was hiring counter-protesters for the event in Charlottesville, roughly 300 miles away. Crowds on Demand has flatly denied the charge, saying that the company was “not involved in any capacity with the recent tragic events in Charlottesville.”

The Craigslist ad “began to spread on social media and chat forums like Reddit and 4Chan” on August 14, as Snopes detailed. Last night, the former actor and Trump supporter Scott Baio pushed a version of this fable on his Facebook page, promoting private messages he had received from an unnamed associate which claimed that the hired protesters traveled on “buses [that] were hired by media matters which is owned by George Soros” (none of this is true).

Earlier today, the claim made the jump to ZeroHedge, a regular clearinghouse for conspiracy theories. The post’s pseudonymous author, “Tyler Durden,” claimed the ad “is raising new questions over whether paid protesters were sourced by a Los Angeles based ‘public relations firm specializing in innovative events’ to serve as agitators in counterprotests,” and tied the “discovery” to President Donald Trump’s claim that there was “blame on both sides” for the Charlottesville violence. The ZeroHedge piece was reposted later today on Infowars.com, radio host Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website.

From those conspiracy sites, the claim jumped to two of the most prominent radio shows in the country, with audiences of millions. “There’s a story out today that raises a question whether or not antifa agitators that showed up in Charlottesville on Saturday were bought and paid for,” Hannity claimed. Hannity continued, “Apparently it was uncovered, and some of the media reported it, that some suspicious activity by an LA-based company that calls itself Crowds on Demand.”

Hannity then seemingly read from the Zero Hedge article, saying, “A Craigslist post last Monday, a full week before the Charlottesville protest, raising questions about whether paid protesters were sourced by a Los Angeles-based PR firm specializing in innovative events to serve as agitators and counterprotests. 25 bucks an hour to actors, photographers in that particular case to participate in events in Charlotte, NC, area as opposed to Charlottesville, VA.”

“So maybe it’s just a coincidence,” he concluded. “I don’t know for sure. But we’re going to keep an eye on that.”

Rush Limbaugh also mentioned the conspiracy theory on his radio show, claiming that progressives “were hiring for Charlottesville in advance. The ad has been found on, I think it’s Craigslist.”

This is far from the first time Hannity has promoted trash from the dregs of the Internet. Most infamously, the Fox star embarked on an extensive on-air campaign in support of the obscene conspiracy theory that the late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered because he was a source for WikiLeaks.



Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters



  1. wfraser11 August 19, 2017

    Hannity. Of the alt right loudmouths has the best college background. He flunked out of THREE DIFFERENT colleges. Quite the achievement. Rush Limbaugh only flunked out of Missouri State once. And Glen Beck never went to college so he could flunk out. Anyone seeing a common thread here? Nah. Me neither.

    1. Charles van Rotterdam August 19, 2017

      They’re as thick as two short planks, perhaps

  2. stcroixcarp August 20, 2017

    FUX News needs to start losing sponsors. Racist propaganda is not cute.

  3. Rhkennerly August 20, 2017

    That’s delusional. Why would someone pay good money for what real Americans will do for free?

    1. rhetoric_phobic August 20, 2017

      Thank you.

    2. Heath Helstrom August 20, 2017

      Nobody really knows what side they were recruiting for, nor do they know whether they were recruiting for both sides. We also do not know whether they instigated the fights. White Supremacy is a SIN, the bible, or at least the New Testament, does not have anyplace for any type of racist speech. But, as much as I hate to say it, they STILL have the freedom of speech in this country. They also have the freedom of assembly, we give that freedom to Christians, Muslims, Jews, Wica, and all other groups. If we limit any speech, there are various things this country may have not have ever accomplished. It is through this free speech and assembly that allowed for the civil rights amendments to be signed, it allowed our country to protest wars, it allowed our country to protest various other unfairness that are in our society. If you limit their ability to speak freely about “what ails them”, they may take it out on others in a less civilized manner, such as the vehicular murder performed by the supremacist.

      Every hate group is founded by some form of perceived social injustice. Radical Islamists perceive America as a sinful nation, radical Christians perceived abortion clinics as murder factories, radical BLM perceive police injustice, radical white supremacists perceive… I don’t know, do they perceive that affirmative action caused them to lose their job? I do NOT put these groups on equal terms at all. Two of them in the list are horrible groups (Radical Islamists and white supremacists), but why DO these people have the level of hate in their heart to join these groups? I just state every group that is bent on hate or intolerance, have some perceived social injustice that they want to protest, let them do that in a safe manner. You can perform as an anti-protester, you can try to dissuade them by providing them with alternative viewpoints, and maybe both sides may come out better for the conversation.

      1. tomtype August 20, 2017

        I don’t see any attempt to seriously limit their freedom to speak. Instead what I want is restrict their violence and physical expression. And the forced involvement and participation in their beliefs by having their beloved statues and symbols public memorials. And accepting their false rendition which is contrary to their original establishment ongoing purpose.

        1. Heath Helstrom August 21, 2017

          I understand, but it did not look like either side was dressed for peace. From doing some searching I found some interesting facts. The city police were absent from the scene until the fight broke out. The STATE police that was there just stood by, stopping the crazies from having more access to the park When the fighting broke out they just continued to stand by. When one of the sides started using gas, the state police actually backed further away. As if the situation wasn’t already “hot”, when the city police finally arrived they pushed the crazy supremacists out of the park and right into the street, where the anti-protesters were lined up. Then they declared a state of emergency.

          But, what happened after that was inexcusable. There is no way I can think of to justify that car crash, nor would I want to try and justify it.

          1. tomtype August 21, 2017

            To restrict either side would in effect restrict their freedom of speech. To preserve the feeedom of all sides requires that police allow them to co-exist. Both sides seemed to be interested violence to strengthen their own base. Start by denouncing violence and understand the two sides are not left and right but violent and non-violent. Trump keeps trying to keep the extreme right wing. Denounce them, and especially your own side when they step over the line.

  4. bobnstuff August 20, 2017

    Here is some food for thought

    The fake ad had one big mistake, it was offering to much money. I have been reading the real ads for years and they never pay that well.

    Hannity has claimed he isn’t a journalist, he’s a talk show host.

    Fox isn’t a News Channel, they are entertainment.

    Alexis Jones is just putting on an act, this he said in a court of law.

    Breitbart just moved out of Bannon basement a few months ago.

    So who is creating fake news. the real news sources or the entertainers?

    1. Heath Helstrom August 20, 2017

      To be correct, “Sean Hannity”, “Tucker Carlson Tonight”, and “the Five” are opinion shows on Fox News. They have been repeatedly quoted as saying that on their show. Since they are opinion shows, and not news anchors, they have the ability to read into what they see and try to derive either conspiracies or debunk other conspiracies. On the other hand, there are various other Fox shows that ARE News and have actual anchors on them. But, CNN tries to pass some of their “opinion” shows off as news. And various of their actual news shows go too much into the opinion of the anchors by calling President Trump deranged and spinning the media negatively towards conservatives, but ultimately towards Trump. This is shown, way too often, as coming from Jim Acosta. It is not his job to provide his opinions, but it is his job to give unfiltered news information from the White House. My recommendation is to listen to ANY of these “news” shows, but do your own homework and draw your OWN conclusions. I despise the idea of group think, as it is contrary to our free society.

      1. bobnstuff August 20, 2017

        Sean uses the words Talk show host.

        Fox is Entertainment not news and there for can lie. This come from Fox themselves.

        “In fact, Ailes, 74, no longer views those networks as rivals. ‘We’re competing with TNT and USA and ESPN,’ he says.”

        I recommend not wasting time watching Fox at all. There are a number of much better places to get your news. CNN isn’t much better then Fox anymore. I prefer print over broadcast myself but I try to know who is doing the talking, who owns the company etc. You are right that you need to do your home work and make up your own mind.

        1. Heath Helstrom August 20, 2017

          Correct, they are opinion shows. If your opinions tend to spin towards his, watch him. BTW, the reason Ailes did not view them as rivals is because they consistently got better ratings than CNN, even though CNN is on at almost every airport, government facility, most waiting rooms, etc. I do a lot of research, but personally, I like Carlson the most for entertainment value. I think it is funny when he thinks he has the upper hand on an interview. Some of his interviews are interesting too, especially the MS-13 and opiate documentaries.

  5. FT66 August 20, 2017

    Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh never contributed anything concrete to any society, always with big mouths in order to fill in their wallets.

  6. tomtype August 20, 2017

    Too often I think right wing propaganda is a game to see how far they can stretch credulity.

  7. Richard Prescott August 20, 2017

    I am neither Republican nor Democrat.
    I wonder just what would happen if the Democrats began acting like the Republicans. If they dug up some lame brained stories and began spreading it around about nefarious deeds done by the GOP.
    Like the GOP paid the KKK and neo-Nazis and white supremacists to schedule marches, protests. Or like they paid Brietbart News to spread lies about Hillary Clinton.
    No, I am not picking on poor Alec Jones this time. He suffers enough drinking his chicken bone chocolate barf drink and not having custody of his kids because a judge saw through his BS “portrayal” plea.
    But maybe, just maybe if the Democrats fought back exactly like the GOP has been doing since the mid 90s we might see something a bit different. Maybe the GOP facilitated the Russians to meet with Trump during the campaigns.
    Hannity, Limbaugh, Jones, Drudge, Miller and more fed the people who needed their brains fed with chicken fat. These people believed all of them as spreading the gospel truth about whomever.
    Hitler’s propagandists did the same thing. Pravda and other Russian “state news” do the same thing except in Russia or previously the Soviet Union.

    1. Heath Helstrom August 20, 2017

      Both sides are full of their conspiracy theories… The Russian Collusion conspiracy, the push that Trump is a racist, let’s not forget the “he is unstable” conspiracy. The Republicans, on the other hand, continue to push the Clinton e-mail scandal, the Loretta Lynch tarmac meeting, and the “unmasking” of Trump campaign officials. So far from these conspiracies, the ones that seem the MOST true is the e-mail scandal, the Loretta Lynch meeting, and the “unmasking”. Most of these conspiracies were “proven” by Comey testimonies, documents received by the ACLJ, and various other statements made by FBI and CIA officials.

      BTW, One thing I do not understand, as a IT security specialist, is how the FBI claimed the DNC server was hacked by the Russians without even investigating the server? Every hacker I know understands the best hackers bounce their code off dummy servers in countries with no extradition, namely either Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea (Since we are on unfriendly terms with them). Also a good hacker studies other hacks for ideas on how to either plug holes or continue to exploit them. Hackers come in various types, black-hats look to exploit someone while white-hats are paid to look for holes and either report them or provide solutions to plug them. Many classes I have taken go over tactics used by other hackers and how the holes have been fixed, they’re provided at various colleges and security companies.

      1. tomtype August 20, 2017

        Clinton email scandal seems most true? She turned her server over to the FBI. One may “delete” an individual file. The computer removes only the listing as to where it stored the file. The file itself remains, which is how files may be retrieved after deleting. There are ways of scrubbing hard drives, which involve repeatedly overwriting the entire hard drive with things like x’s. But no way to do that on an individual file basis.
        Calling the anti-Hillary stuff believable stretches credulity. But it does betray a bias.

      2. 788eddie August 21, 2017

        There is no “push” that tRump is a racist; he IS a racist. Ipso facto.

        1. Heath Helstrom August 21, 2017

          I’ll bite, what do you have to prove that he is a racist. Are you referring to his speech about Mexicans? If that is the only proof, you should listen to the whole statement and remember he does not have a “silver tongue” like President Obama did. He did not say all of the Mexicans were criminals, but I grant you he did paint a bad picture with his words. But, if you think of it, MS-13 usually comes from that border. Also, drugs come from that border. I don’t have to tell you, but from what I hear of MS-13, which originates from El Salvador, they are not law abiding citizens. Also, a vast majority of our illegal drugs DO come from that border as well. Maybe he could have been a bit clearer, but from what I can tell from all his other speeches, he does not seem to paint pretty pictures, he just shoots from the hip. Let’s get real though, technically everyone that crosses that border, or any border, without papers can be defined as a criminal. That is why the term illegal aliens is the legal term for them. Bill Clinton also called them illegal immigrants and stated we needed to eliminate the number of them… Just look up the first few minutes of Clinton’s 1995 State of the Union Address. But if there is something else, please provide your proof.

          1. tomtype August 21, 2017

            So the issues you listed, what is your impression as to the reason and source?
            Is the problem a Mexican problem or a s it a human problem that occurs in Mexico. The same applies to Blacks, Muslims, immigrants, on and on.
            And if you don’t understand this or insist the two are the same, you might be a racist too.
            Do you seek to solve the problem or do you insist preventing the group, because the problem is unique to the group, and the fault of that group. Is the problem unique to and the result of that group or what might well be expected as the result any group, including your own reacting to the events that led to target group doing/being what the source of objection. A rather simple, effective test.

  8. rhetoric_phobic August 20, 2017

    No one would have to pay me to punch a nazi in the face.
    Fortunately my desire to remain dignified has prevented me from doing so but I never say never. 😀

  9. Richard Licker August 20, 2017

    National memo? What is this garbage site Google sent me to? Keep writing useless stories guy it’s worth a good laugh.

  10. AlfredSonny August 21, 2017

    Recently, Sneaky Sean Hannity eloquently stated in reality that more Democrats than Republicans voted against Civil Rights in 1960s. What he cleverly didn’t cover was at that time, all Deep South states were Blue. All of these states converted to Red due to the passage of Civil Rights. Sneaky Sean, indeed!


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