Tag: sean hannity
Sean Hannity

Why Sean Hannity's GOP 'Abortion Strategy' Won't Work

Sean Hannity is a Republican Party operative with close ties to Donald Trump and other Republican leaders, and with the approval of the network’s executives, he explicitly uses his Fox News show as a platform to help its candidates win elections. So his Tuesday night meltdown, in which he blamed the GOP’s string of defeats that day on its unpopular opposition to abortion rights, bears careful scrutiny.

Hannity put his finger on what he considered the problem as results rolled in showing a series of Democratic victories.

“Democrats are trying to scare women into thinking Republicans don't want abortion legal under any circumstances,” he said.

The host and his guests urged Republicans to coalesce around banning abortion beginning at 15 weeks, which Hannity argued would be less risky politically, and focusing attention on right-wing lies about the purportedly extreme positions of Democrats.

Hannity, who says he is “pro-life,” has repeatedly sought to limit the political damage caused to the Republican Party when its Supreme Court nominees overturned the protections for abortion rights that had been enshrined in Roe v. Wade in their 2022 decision. He instructed Republican Senate candidates to dodge questions about the subject during the 2022 cycle, only for his hand-picked nominees to falter. Hannity carefully led newly minted House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to say that he didn’t intend for Congress to take action on abortion this term during Johnson’s first interview in that role last month, and the issue didn’t come up at all during Hannity’s on-air pep rally for House Republicans last week.

Hannity’s reticence is relatively canny — abortion rights played a major role in GOP defeats across the country on Tuesday, and if Republicans can’t somehow defuse the issue, it threatens the party’s political success in the 2024 elections. A new Navigator Survey poll shows Democrats in a dominant position in battleground districts, with majorities saying that the GOP position is “too extreme” and would lead to national abortion restrictions, that the Democratic position is not extreme, and that voters want abortion to be legal in all or most circumstances.

Hannity is an influential figure within the GOP, and it’s possible that Republicans will try to publicly position themselves in line with his suggested remedy. But his proposed cure for the party’s ills is nonsensical — indeed, as Hannity was speaking, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s identical plan to use a 15-week ban to hold the state House and take over the state Senate was going up in flames.

Voters have not been somehow fooled by Democrats into believing that Republicans support banning abortion. Voters rightfully don’t trust Republican intentions because Republicans say they want to ban abortion, and they generally use whatever political power they obtain to prevent as many abortions as they can.

The text of the party’s most recent platform claims that “the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed” and calls for a constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions by granting 14th Amendment rights to fetuses.

Johnson says that “life begins at conception” and called abortion a “holocaust,” and he has sponsored national abortion bans beginning as early as six weeks. Anti-abortion activists are gleeful at the prospect of his leadership if the party regains the Senate and the White House.

But Republicans at the state level do not generally stop with 15-week abortion bans — they push the envelope as far as their legislative majorities allow. That has meant a total abortion ban in 13 states, nine caused via “trigger” laws which took effect immediately after the Supreme Court overturned Roe, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In Florida, Republican state legislators passed and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban in 2022. Then, after DeSantis won reelection and Republicans increased their majorities, they went back and established a six-week ban.

And in addition to making abortion illegal within their states, far-right legislators have enacted laws which create bounties for private citizens who file lawsuits against anyone who knowingly “aids or abets” an abortion and ban helping a minor leave the state to obtain abortion care. There are countless stories about the devastating impacts these laws have already had on women and girls placed in dire situations.

Nor do Republicans confine their efforts to states where they win majorities. The right-wing movement’s lawyers, with the help of Trump-appointed judges, are currently trying to overturn the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion medication mifepristone, which would effectively institute a nationwide ban on a drug currently used in more than half of U.S. abortions. If their effort succeeds, they will likely deploy a similar strategy against an alternative drug, misoprostol. Meanwhile, in Congress, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-MS) is blocking hundreds of military promotions — to cheers from the right — in hopes of forcing the Biden administration to end a policy that reimburses service members for out-of-state travel to receive abortions.

And of course, the reason Republican legislators have been able to pass state-level abortion bans and threaten to pass national ones is that Trump and a Republican Senate added the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe in the first place.

The good news for Republicans is that Trump, the party’s likely presidential nominee, has very few genuine policy convictions, and recognizes that the issue poses a danger to his prospects in a general election. He was noticeably cagey in a September interview when asked about what type of abortion legislation he’d support, stating vaguely that he “would sit down with both sides and I'd negotiate something, and we'll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years,” and criticized his rival DeSantis’ six-week ban.

But that led to a chorus of criticism from Trump’s primary opponents, anti-abortion groups, and right-wing pundits, to which Trump later responded by crowing, “I was able to kill Roe v. Wade.” And there are signs that a Hannity-esque strategy of downplaying the party’s unpopular abortion stance could face fury from right-wing media figures who make their money by loudly proclaiming stands that appeal to a tiny, fervent minority.

If interviewers and debate moderators do their jobs, Trump should face a slew of questions between now and next year’s election where the desired answers of right-wing anti-abortion activists and average Americans diverge. Journalists have a responsibility to try to elicit a clearer position not only about what type of abortion bans he’d sign or veto, but about what he would do on federal regulatory issues like the availability of abortion medications.

“Polls are now closed in several key states, where close races could serve as maybe a small preview of coming attractions for the 2024 election,” Hannity said on Tuesday night, before the carnage for the GOP became apparent. That’s true, and support for abortion rights is a big part of the reason why.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

GOP Hack Hannity Stages A Live Pep Rally For House Republicans

GOP Hack Hannity Stages A Live Pep Rally For House Republicans

Fox News star and sometime GOP operative Sean Hannity hosted a unity pep rally for House Republicans on Wednesday night, interviewing new Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and members of his leadership team before a cheering crowd of caucus members live from Capitol Hill.

House Republicans spent much of October embroiled in chaos. After a handful of disgruntled members voted to dethrone then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for forging a deal to fund the government, the caucus cycled through a series of potential replacements who failed to garner sufficient support to take over the post. The exhausted members finally settled on Johnson last week, but his early days have been rough going: GOP resolutions to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY) both failed on Wednesday, the party’s proposed bill for military aid to Israel is dead on arrival in the Senate, and the clock is ticking down toward a government shutdown.

Enter Hannity, who has a lengthy record of prioritizing the political success of the GOP over all other considerations. The Fox host, who originally endorsed network favorite Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for the speakership but backed off as Jordan’s bid faltered, has rallied to Johnson’s side and is urging the fractured caucus to unite.

Hannity’s Wednesday performance was a pitch for his own future relevance. He sought to ingratiate himself with the newly minted speaker, who he admitted not knowing well, while encouraging the assembled members to remain focused on issues that bring them together — which were coincidentally the same subjects that he regularly highlights on his show.

It goes without saying that nothing about Fox’s hourlong propaganda fest would have been considered ethically acceptable on any news network.

“Make no mistake: With just 369 days until the 2024 election, House Republicans — and I’m saying to all of you in this room and all of you that are watching at home — you will succeed together or you will fail together,” he pitched at the top of his opening monologue. “There won't be some winners and some losers. The only people that will really lose if you lose are the American people.”

Hannity decried “divisive infighting,” telling members to “put aside personal grudges, individual agendas” to “deliver big on issues” like “border security,” “energy independence,” “fiscal sanity,” “law and order,” “the rule of law,” and “moral clarity in this time of terrorism.”

He then, somewhat contradictorily, told the crowd of GOP representatives that they can’t enact legislation with a Democratic Senate and White House, but should instead “stop Joe Biden’s radical agenda,” “investigate his corruption,” and “force Democrats to show their true colors in a series of very important votes, put them on the record.”

At the conclusion of his monologue, he instructed the members to “give a warm welcome to your new speaker, Mike Johnson.” After the crowd cheered, he commented, “Well, I certainly know my place in the people’s house, because you got a much better reception than I did.”

“That’s not true,” Johnson replied. “If they had seen it before you began, you’re a rock star here.”

Hannity let Johnson quickly skip past the failed votes against Tlaib and Santos and pivot to a happier message about party unity, before spending the balance of their interview responding to clips from members of the Biden administration discussing border security.

Indeed, the throughline Wednesday night was Hannity’s consistent focus on issues like border security which he believes unify the party without alienating the public. There were no questions about abortion, or health care, or the 2020 election and 2021 insurrection, where the party’s position is unpopular and Republicans fracture. Nor did the Fox host force his guests to lay out how deeply they want to cut spending and who those cuts will impact. And Donald Trump's name wasn't mentioned a single time the entire show.

Instead, Hannity asked Johson and House leadership team members Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Tom Emmer (R-MN) about the border, the prospect of domestic terrorism, the purported weaponization of government, and “the cognitive state of Joe Biden.”

Committee chairs Jordan, James Comer (R-KY), and Jason Smith (R-MO) took turns describing the course of their Biden investigations in language familiar to Hannity fans but impenetrable to normal people, which Johnson suggested would lead to the president’s impeachment.

And Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Kat Cammack (R-FL) described the GOP’s effort to push back on Biden’s proposal for an emergency package that includes military aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, aid to Palestinian and Israeli civilians, and border security, including a plug for House Republicans’ deficit-boosting IRS cuts to aid wealthy tax cheats.

Hannity asked the audience of members questions at times, calling for shows of hands. He noted that no one raised their hand when he asked if “Joe Biden is cognitively strong enough to be our president,” and that all of them did when he asked if the Biden investigations are “headed” toward impeachment. There were also hands raised and cries of “yes” when he asked the crowd, “Do you believe we’ve given too much money to Ukraine?”

The final segment turned any subtext of the show to text. Hannity brought on Reps. Mike Lawler (R-NY) and Byron Donalds (R-FL) and asked if the party would succeed if members focused on the issues discussed on the show that night. Both agreed that they would.

Then Hannity touted Johnson’s “great fundraising week” and closed by asking him, “Can you look in the camera and assure every conservative and Republican in the country that that main agenda can get done and will get done?”

“That is going to be our agenda and we're going to deliver for the people and govern well,” Johnson replied. “And I think that we’ll be able to grow our majority when we do that.”

That’s certainly Hannity’s plan. As for what will happen on all the other issues — getting those answers might require something closer to journalism.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

RFK Jr. and Sean Hannity

When RFK Jr. Called For A Boycott Of 'Fascists' Like His New Pal Sean Hannity

Anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has been feted by right-wing media figures in a transparent attempt to damage Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, previously called for advertiser boycotts against right-wing media figures he said were “lying to the American public” by denying climate change. The figures Kennedy called out — and later described as fascists — include Fox News host Sean Hannity, who hosted a town hall for the candidate on his Tuesday night broadcast.

Kennedy condemned Hannity and other “corporate toadies” who are “lying to you” during a speech at Live Earth New York on July 7, 2007.

“And so I'm going to tell you this,” he said, “that the next time you see John Stossel, or Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh, or Sean Hannity, these flat-Earthers, these corporate toadies, lying to you, lying to the American public, and telling you that global warming doesn't exist, you send an email to their advertisers and tell them you're not going to buy their products anymore.”

Hannity, who had previously jousted with Kennedy about climate change and the environment several times on his Fox show (then billed Hannity & Colmes), responded two nights later. He called Kennedy an “environmental extremist” and “a very angry man,” and went on to denounce the activist’s “incendiary rhetoric.”

The Fox host further criticized Kennedy for “taking a shot at me and everyone else who doesn't buy into his global warming hysteria” on his July 11, 2007, show. He also described him the following night as a “Learjet liberal” who is “very angry, very shrill” and “so arrogant and condescending.”

Kennedy subsequently went on Glenn Beck’s CNN Headline News program and said that he considered Beck, Hannity, and the other right-wing media figures he had criticized to be fascists.

During the July 12, 2007, interview, Beck said that “you call me a fascist for asking questions” and asked Kennedy to define the term.

“The American Heritage Dictionary defines fascism as the domination of government by corporate power,” Kennedy replied. “You and John Stossel, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh have made yourselves the primary spokesman for the domination of corporate power over American government.”

Kennedy did not return to Hannity’s Fox show until after he launched his 2024 presidential campaign, according to a review of the Nexis database. The candidate joined Hannity on May 8 to discuss how, in the Fox host’s words, voters are “abandoning” Biden and instead giving Kennedy a “whopping 20 percent” in the polls.

Hannity, a staunch Trump supporter who served as one of his closest presidential advisers, has frequently touted Kennedy’s campaign. In June, after airing a clip of the candidate saying that there is a “humanitarian crisis” at the U.S. border with Mexico, Hannity commented, “Wow. That’s a Democrat.”

“RFK delivering a much needed dose of reality to the entire Democratic Party, all while gaining real support and sparking, quote, jitters inside of Biden’s orbit,” the Fox host continued. “He’s also against biological men in women’s sports, and was dead set against how the country was treated with regards to COVID, and his candidacy is getting very interesting.”

Hannity then contrasted Kennedy’s “strong performance” with “the weak, frail, and cognitive mess of a president Joe Biden.”

Meanwhile, Kennedy’s standing in the polls has deteriorated, in part because Democratic voters are becoming increasingly aware that his biggest supporters are Republicans like Hannity and his Fox colleagues.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Sean Hannity

Fox News Once Joyfully Anticipated Indictment's Political Impact -- In 2016

Fox News hosts are currently denouncing a potential indictment of former President Donald Trump as a corrupt attack on a political opponent aimed at interfering with the course of the 2024 presidential election, saying it would destroy American democracy and the nation’s justice system.

“We all know what's happening here,” Sean Hannity claimed on Tuesday. “This is political vengeance. Justice is not blind. There is no longer in this country, and I say this with a lot of sadness, equal justice under the law or equal application of our laws.”

It’s worth looking back to November 2016, when network anchor Bret Baier reported, just days before the 2016 election, that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton faced a looming federal indictment. At the time, Fox hosts like Hannity touted the news’ potential for changing the course of the election and helping Trump to victory, and expressed sympathy with FBI agents for leaking information about the probes before Election Day.

On November 2, 2016, Baier reported a string of claims about federal probes into Clinton’s use of a private email server and her family’s foundation based on two unnamed “sources with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations,” and he concluded that the inquiries “will continue to likely an indictment.” But Baier seems to have been serving as a mouthpiece for an anti-Clinton faction within the bureau and his report was swiftly dismantled by reporters at other outlets, forcing him to first walk back aspects of it and then issue an apology that amounted to a near-total retraction.

As with much of the original reporting by Fox’s “news” side personalities, Baier’s flawed effort served as a boon to the Republican Party that Fox exists to succor and as a hook for his right-wing “opinion” side colleagues’ propaganda. Trump himself quickly ran with the account on the campaign trail, while Fox devoted at least 2 hours and 8 minutes of coverage of the Baier report over a 24-hour period -- about 12 percent of the network’s total live airtime.

Fox hosts were not concerned with the possibility that an indictment might inappropriately shift the course of the election — in fact, they explicitly championed its potential to do so.

“A major Fox News Alert, explosive new details about the FBI investigations into the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server that could now dramatically alter the outcome of the election which is only six days away,” Hannity said at the top of his November 2, 2016, broadcast.

After discussing the story with Laura Ingraham, now his prime-time colleague, Hannity asked her, “In an hour and 46 minutes, we're five days away from the election, Laura. What is the impact going to be? Twenty-seven million people, 28 million people voted already. What are we going to do?”

Ingraham replied, “Well, I think people going to the polls on Tuesday, people still voting -- they have to be thinking, do we really want to do this for another four or eight years? Is this the really best that we can do?”

In another segment, Hannity asked Jeanine Pirro, now co-host of Fox’s The Five, and then-Fox contributor Monica Crowley, “Is this going to impact the election?”

Pirro replied, “I hope so! And if it doesn't, shame on us!”

The following night, Hannity and Ingraham expressed sympathy with FBI agents for leaking information about the Clinton probes in order to affect the outcome of the election.

“This is leading towards an indictment,” Hannity said. “Do you think the FBI rank and file have so had it with the Justice Department they are not going to allow this case not to be brought before the American people?"

Ingraham replied, “If I were Hillary Clinton I would be really, really worried at this point. It seems like it's pointing that way and pointing that way in a very devastating fashion. You don't have a mutiny at the FBI for nothing, and that looks like what we're on the verge of having.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.