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Tag: sean hannity

Beyond Unhinged: How Trump Confessed To Bank Fraud On 'Hannity'

With just about anything attached in any way to Donald Trump, you don’t even know where to start. But his Wednesday night interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News is in a class of exactly one. I looked for a transcript online, so I could quote from the interview, but there isn’t one. In fact, it’s hard to find the whole thing from beginning to end, because it’s such a target-rich environment. Nearly all the sources featuring the interview just run their favorite clips.

Where do you start? We’ve all heard about Trump’s out-of-the-blue speculation that the FBI searched Mar a Lago because they were looking for Hillary Clinton’s emails. We’ve heard his explanation of the process of declassification of secret documents just by “thinking about it.” But receiving far less coverage has been his rant against New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed a 222-page lawsuit on Wednesday against Trump, his three adult children, and the Trump Organization for fraud, lying on official documents, and a whole host of other charges.

So, let’s start right there. Trump complains that James has been out to get him for years. “Her whole campaign was based on this, and then she came after us,” Trump began, in response to yet another gelatinous question from lapdog Hannity. “We’ve been going over this for years, and I actually thought because our values are really high, the company is great, like places like this [turns to indicate the gold-leaf ornamentation on the wall behind him] so many other places that I have like this, frankly, I mean, just to do among the finest places in the world, I actually thought that they would never bring a case, and she brought it. And the reason I thought she didn’t have a case, I was of the impression she wanted to settle, but I had a problem because how do you pay something even it’s a small amount of money if you’re not guilty?”

It was on September 15 that Trump’s lawyers sat down with the Office of the New York Attorney General and tried to settle the case before it was filed. Exactly one week later, Trump acts all surprised that this terrible thing has happened to him.

As he sat there talking to Hannity amidst the splendor that is Mar a Lago, Trump was aware that his company is set to go to trial next month on criminal tax fraud in Manhattan, “a case that could expose the company to steep financial penalties if it is convicted,” the New York Times reported.

But let’s go back to the interview, as Hannity surprises us with a question that verges on a modicum of specificity even as it seeks to set Trump up to deny a primary aspect of the case against him, that he inflated the value of his properties in order to qualify for hundreds of millions in loans, $300 million from Deutsche Bank alone: “Did you ever in your life fill out a loan application while in the Trump organization?” Hannity pleads.

“Well, you know, we make loans, but I have very little debt,” Trump lies with an approximation of a straight face. And yet he persists. Hannity somehow manages to get out, “Here’s what I want to tell you,” before being interrupted by Trump with this: “They’ve demeaned me for years with this stuff, and now they find out I have very little debt.”

Hannity then proceeds to help Trump craft a defense: “I was told that in your financial statements, when you make a loan application, and you can confirm if you know this or do not know this, do you put in a caveat that actually says, these are all valuations because I don’t know a lending institution, a financial institution, that would lend money to anybody, and just go by the borrower’s estimation of valuation of a particular property. So if you’re buying a $100 million property and you’re putting X, Y, and Z up for leverage, you estimate its value at this, and they estimate it as this, don’t they have a fiduciary before they give you that amount of money, so that they determine what the value is?”

Trump relaxes. He’s in his element. He has an obsequious pretender at his feet who doesn’t know anything even close to what he knows about the world of big finance and billionaire-ness: “First of all, these are banks that have the best law firms in the world, the biggest and best and most powerful…they do their own work, they don’t rely on us. But what we do is, we have a disclaimer and we put this as my people put it together, I would look at it, and it looked fine, but it’s not overly important. What’s important is the property. I have the best property. We have a disclaimer, Sean, right on the front, and it basically says, you know, get your own people, you’re at your own risk, this was done by management, it wasn’t done by us, it was done by management, so don’t rely on the statement that you’re getting. And by the way, it goes on for like a page and a half, it’s a very big disclaimer, it’s a very powerful disclaimer.”

This is Trump acting out what he has told the “best law firms in the world, the biggest and best and most powerful,” basically telling them how to do their jobs, because, you know, I’m Trump and I know all about this stuff.

Hannity presses on, agreeing with Trump that the lenders have their own valuations, “they’ve got their own bosses and shareholders they have to answer to,” because it’s not your fault, it’s the fault of these biggest, bestest, most powerful people you’re dealing with.

Leaning forward, again indicating the gilded magnificence of the room at Mar a Lago, Trump confidently says, “So they would look at a property like this, I don’t even have a mortgage on this property, I don’t have a mortgage on most of my properties,” says the man who has signed away practically everything he owns to Deutsche Bank to get the money he’s living on.

“You know, I used to read where he’s overextended, he has so much money he borrowed, and I’m saying, what are they talking about? But actually, the one good thing is that people see what a great company I built. I built a great company. A powerful company. A company that’s very lowly-leveraged, with among the best assets anywhere in the world, and you look at this asset, and she has this down to $75 million dollars, I can tell you, it’s many times that number. She said, oohh, he evaluated it at 75 or whatever it is, and she valued it at 75, or whatever it is, this is Letitia James, no, but if I were going, I don’t even have a mortgage on this property, but if I was going to put a mortgage on this property, the institutions are going to be coming over, they’re going to be going through comparable properties all over Palm Beach or wherever it is, Miami, we have them all over, we have tremendous properties…”

Are you following this? This is Mar-a-Lago he’s talking about. Trump has been charged in the New York lawsuit with overvaluing his properties to use them as collateral for loans. Letitia James, who did her due diligence and looked up all the comparable properties in Palm Beach, determined that Mar-a-Lago was worth $75 million. The New York attorney general discovered in Trump’s financials that that he valued it at $739 million in order to qualify for loans.

What Trump does, in his roundabout, incoherent interview with Hannity, is take a shovel in hand and dig a big hole and jump into it wearing his blue suit and red tie and black lace-up shoes, when says Letitia James doesn’t have a case against him for overvaluing his properties on loan applications, but look at me! I’m right here on national television and I’m providing all the proof you need that I overstated the value of my properties, in this case, Mar-a-Lago, which isn’t worth what non-billionaire Letitia James said it was worth, but “many times that number.”

These public statements by Trump, made on the same day he was sued in New York State, are all admissible in James’ lawsuit against him. She says he overvalued his properties. Trump’s defense is, no I didn’t, and yet here he is admitting that’s exactly what he did, and he got away with it because the banks with all the best and biggest and most powerful law firms went along with it and loaned him money, so it’s all their fault, not his. And yet it’s Donald Trump’s name on those loan applications Hannity asked him if he filled out, and it’s his name on those valuations, and whether the banks went along with his numbers and loaned him money or not, he attested that what he was putting on those financial documents was true.

That, my friends, is called bank fraud, live on the Sean Hannity show on Fox News for everyone, including Letitia James, to see. And that’s why we need a new word for “unhinged.”

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

New Testimony Shatters Sean Hannity's January 6 Alibi For Trump

In an attempt to undermine the House Select Committee, Fox News launched an entire-network offensive to repeatedly — with little evidence — claim that outgoing President Donald Trump had called thousands of National Guard troops to secure the Capitol in the days prior to the insurrection.

Nobody played a bigger role in this misinformation machine than Sean Hannity, who pushed the lie hundreds of times in total, and at least on 43 episodes of his prime-time Fox show, and 48 editions of his daily radio show. (His Fox spot earns him almost 3 million viewers, and the latter garners him over 13 million.)

But like most right-wing conspiracy theories about the January 6 putsch, this tale shattered under the burden of proof, turning out to be a fabrication to portray the former president as a peacemaker, rather than an instigator of the violence.

On Tuesday, the January 6 committee released testimony from former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller stating that there “was no order from the president” to call 10,000 troops to the Capitol in preparation for January 6. (Previous reporting from Vanity Fair described how Trump made an informal comment, which Miller took as a sign that Trump expected millions of supporters to attend his rally. As Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed to The Washington Post, there was also “no record of such an order being given.”)

In a stunning about-face from his testimony to the committee, Miller even appeared on Hannity on June 6, with Trump loyalist and former Pentagon chief of staff Kash Patel, to claim that the former president had authorized 20,000 troops from the National Guard.

After Patel described the meeting in which Trump supposedly authorized the troops, Hannity said to his guests, “Let me – let me be very clear. Both of you said this under oath and under the threat of penalty and perjury to the committee?” Miller responded, “Oh absolutely, Sean.”

What caused this discrepancy in Miller’s testimony is unclear. What is abundantly clear, however, is that within Fox News’ affinity for distorting the truth about January 6, Miller and Patel found a welcome audience in Sean Hannity, who in turn incessantly spewed the lies to his audience.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Dominion Lawsuits Are Terrifying To Right-Wing Media Outlets

Attorneys for Fox News have been hoping that a massive $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems would be thrown out in court. But that lawsuit, along with separate lawsuits filed by Dominion against Fox News competitors Newsmax TV and One America News (OAN), continues. And Fox News is claiming that its right to free speech is being violated.

“In the months following the 2020 U.S. presidential election, right-wing TV news in America was a wild west — an apparently lawless free-for-all where conspiracy theories about voting machines, ballot-stuffed suitcases and dead Venezuelan leaders were repeated to viewers around the clock,” journalist Adam Gabbatt reports in an article published by The Guardian on July 4. “There seemed to be little consequence for peddling the most outrageous ideas on primetime. But now, unfortunately for Fox News, One America News Network (OAN), and Newsmax, it turns out that this brave new world wasn’t free from legal jurisdiction — with the three networks now facing billion-dollar lawsuits as a result of their baseless accusations.”

After the 2020 presidential election, Sidney Powell and other far-right attorneys falsely claimed that that the election had been stolen from then-President Donald Trump with the help of Dominion — a false claim that Fox News, Newsmax and OAN were happy to promote. Fox News attorneys, however, have maintained that the right-wing cable news outlet was simply presenting a different point of view, and Dominion has countered that Fox News was reporting false information to drive ratings. Dominion has also filed lawsuits against Powell and attorney Rudy Giuliani, another promoter of the Big Lie.


Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, who teaches constitutional law at Stetson University, told the Guardian, “Dominion has a very strong case against Fox News — and against OAN for that matter. The reason Dominion is suing is because Fox and other right-wing news outlets repeated vicious lies that Dominion’s voting machines stole the 2020 election from Trump for (Joe) Biden. But all of these conspiracy theories about Dominion’s machines were just pure bunk, and Fox as a news organization should have known that and not given this aspect of the Big Lie a megaphone.”

Torres-Spelliscy added, “What’s particularly bad for Fox is (that) Dominion asked them to stop and correct the record in real time, and Fox persisted in spreading misrepresentations about the voting machine company.”

When the U.S. Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, handed down its ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan back in 1964, it was clear about what does and doesn’t constitute defamation. The High Court made it clear that an honest mistake is not “defamation” — there has to “actual malice.”

Many years later, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin sued the Times for defamation. But she couldn’t prove “actual malice” and lost the case. Now, far-right Justice Clarence Thomas, often slammed as an authoritarian by his critics, is calling for the High Court to revisit the “actual malice” standard and make defamation easier to prove, which is ironic in light of how quick right-wing media outlets are to push outlandish conspiracy theories; if Thomas had his way, there could be a lot more defamation lawsuits against Fox News and its competitors.

Torres-Spelliscy stressed that there are major differences between Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the Times and Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News.

“In the Palin case, the New York Times quickly corrected the mistake about Palin that had been added while an article was edited,” Torres-Spelliscy told the Guardian. “By contrast, Fox News kept up the bad behavior and repeatedly told myths about Dominion’s voting machines. This is likely why judges in several of these Dominion defamation cases have not dismissed them.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The Big Lie, Wrapped In More Lies -- And Finally Stripped Bare

Now Americans know for certain what many suspected since Election Day 2020, which is that Donald Trump, his enablers in the Congress, his publicists on Fox News and his co-conspirators in the White House were in on the Big Lie from the very beginning. All of them understood all along that Trump's insistent claim about election fraud was false and intended solely to deceive their followers.

Both the original deception and its protective wrapping were ripped away by the House Select Committee's revelatory hearing on June 9.

It is now undeniable that Trump and his gang were aware from the first week of November 2020 that he had lost the election to Joe Biden. Trump aide Jason Miller testified to the select committee that the campaign's own data expert had informed the then-president he "was going to lose," based on an internal assessment of the reported "county-by-county, state by state results."

According to Miller, Trump rejected this incontrovertible judgment because he wanted to fight the outcome in court. But his campaign swiftly lost every case brought to contest the election on both the state and federal levels, in courts overseen by judges of both parties, culminating in the summary dismissal of its claims by the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority that included three of his appointees.

Trump and his cronies knew from the start that their legal claims were entirely meritless. So did the lawyers representing him, including Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have suffered court disciplinary action for their conscious lies.

Everybody around Trump, and their brothers and sisters and cousins, knew that he and they were lying about the election, even as they stoked outrage among his gullible true believers. But they continued to promote the Big Lie — and all the subsidiary lies — as the fateful date of January 6 approached.

Attorney General William Barr testified that he told Trump on three separate occasions that the claims of fraud were absolutely baseless. "I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit."

Yet instead of accepting the blunt assessment of the nation's highest law enforcement official, who had defended him during the Russia investigation, even misleading the public about the Mueller report, Trump threw Barr out of the Oval Office. He then attempted to appoint an eager flunky, Jeffrey Clark, as acting attorney general in order to foist a conscious lie on the states by misusing the authority of the Justice Department.

On December 28, 2020, Clark had drafted a letter to Georgia officials falsely asserting that the department had found voting irregularities that affected election results in several states. This was itself a conscious lie. What stopped Clark's appointment was a threat by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and other top attorneys in the Justice Department and the White House to resign en masse, a potentially ruinous scandal.

The pattern was clear as the hearing proceeded, with Ivanka Trump testifying that she believed Barr (confirming a New York Times report that neither she nor her husband Jared Kushner credited Trump's "fraud" nonsense). But nobody around Trump saw any evidence to support the Big Lie, including the president himself.

Neither did the professional liars at Fox News, who gulled their audience into believing claims that they knew were ridiculous. At the hearing, Rep. Liz Cheney displayed an ominous text from Fox host Sean Hannity to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: "Key now, no more crazy people, no more stolen election talk. Yes, impeachment and 25th amendment are real. Many people will quit." In other words, Hannity knew that the Big Lie was a lie, even as he and his network mendaciously promoted it.

Conscious of its own guilt and involvement, Fox refused to televise the hearings, devoting its airtime to conspiracy theories. The same consciousness of guilt also seems to have seized a number of Republican members of Congress, whose futile efforts to obtain pardons from Trump during his final days in office were also disclosed by Cheney.

The only people who honestly swallowed the Big Lie were Trump's followers, thousands of whom assaulted the Capitol on that "wild" day of January 6. Now many of those unfortunate fools — the same crowd who invested their faith in fascist nonsense about coronavirus vaccines and Hollywood pedophiles — will go to prison because they believed in their golden calf, Donald Trump, who knew he was lying to them and leading them to the slaughter.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Fox Primes Viewers For ‘Election Fraud’ Chaos In Pennsylvania

Fox News prime-time host Sean Hannity is priming his audience to see election fraud in any defeat for Dr. Mehmet Oz, his favored candidate who currently leads the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania with two percent of votes outstanding. If the fast-closing hedge funder Dave McCormick takes the lead and the Oz camp claims the election has been stolen, it could set up a potentially explosive proxy war with Hannity’s colleague Laura Ingraham, whose Fox program favors McCormick and has suggested he is likely to prevail when all the votes are counted.

The GOP primary was a chaotic slugfest that split Fox’s slate of pro-GOP hosts in an unusually public way. Hannity was Oz’s most prominent supporter, reportedly securing the support of former President Donald Trump and using his program to endorse the TV personality, give him a regular platform, and target the challenge from right-wing commentator and Fox & Friends regular Kathy Barnette. Ingraham, meanwhile, used her Fox program (which airs in the hour following Hannity’s) to promote McCormick, criticize Oz, and defend Barnette.

Tuesday’s election is currently too close to call, with Oz holding a roughly 1,200-vote lead over McCormick, 31. percent to 31.1 percent, according to the Associated Press. McCormick has gained ground as officials continue counting ballots, and the election appears headed to a recount.

Trump, Hannity, and the bulk of Hannity’s Fox and right-wing media colleagues dishonestly sought to delegitimize the 2020 election results when mail-in ballots helped President Joe Biden win key states. Their cynical attempt to subvert the vote and terminate the American republic led inexorably to January 6, 2021, when a riotous mob of Trump supporters sacked the U.S. Capitol as they sought to thwart the peaceful transition of power.

Hannity and Trump are now deploying the same playbook in Pennsylvania.

“Dr. Oz should declare victory,” Trump suggested on his social media site Wednesday morning. “It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find.’”

A few hours later, Hannity similarly baselessly raised the prospect of election fraud on his nationally syndicated radio show.



Hannity similarly portrayed the election as a done deal on his Fox show that night.

“I've been crunching numbers all day. I've been talking to people all day. I've been checking county websites all day. And I have my belief that, worst case scenario, this comes out in Oz's favor,” Hannity told his guest, the pollster Matt Towery.

Towery agreed with Hannity’s analysis, saying, “There aren't enough votes here to make this a reversal in who's leading. It could take it down more, maybe even to 600, but I don't think it can change the lead."

And Oz himself appeared and took Trump’s advice, telling Hannity’s audience, “This election is ours.”

Hannity viewers who kept watching after the program ended received a very different message from Ingraham’s show.

The analyst Ingraham hosted to discuss the race, Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito, said that based on the outstanding ballots, “If you ask me tonight whose campaign I would want to be in, it would probably be McCormick’s.”

And then McCormick himself came on and, at Ingraham’s urging, disputed Oz’s claim that he had won.


As the midterm elections approach, Trump and Hannity have learned to expect no negative consequences for convincing their fans to believe outlandish lies about rigged elections. Trump remains the head of the Republican Party, while Hannity retains his dual role at Fox and as a GOP operative. Their impulse to treat any electoral defeat as fraudulent now risks chaos for the GOP in Pennsylvania and on Fox’s airwaves – and sets the stage for a similar, dangerous play for the White House in 2024.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox Hate Propaganda Leaves Advertisers Without ‘Plausible Deniability’

Fox News is rubbing its bigotry and volatility in the faces of would-be and current advertisers, leaving them without a shred of plausible deniability as they consider a business relationship with a network that prioritizes the promotion of white supremacist conspiracy theories.

On Monday, Fox held its upfronts presentation, an industry tradition in which networks bring in advertisers and media buyers and pitch them on buying ads for the next year. It was the first time Fox has held the event in person since 2019. In the intervening years, the network has cemented its control over the Republican Party, helped to bring about and then justify the January 6, 2021, Trumpist attack on the U.S. Capitol, run a remarkably effective campaign to dissuade people from taking COVID-19 vaccines; and demolished its “news side” in favor of more propaganda.

Fox’s crucial event came at a particularly inopportune moment for the network. On Saturday, a white supremacist gunman killed 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. The manifesto he allegedly posted online invokes the “great replacement” theory as his motivation, which posits that shadowy forces are masterminding nonwhite immigration in order to “replace” the white population. This blood-soaked conspiracy theory, once largely confined to Internet fever swamps and the political fringe, has in recent years been mainstreamed by Fox News hosts. The network – and in particular its biggest star and the theory’s most prominent supporter, Tucker Carlson – have received abominable press over the last few days, as the overlap between their commentary and that of the shooter have drawn scrutiny everywhere from the front pages of newspapers to the floor of the U.S. Senate.


While Carlson and his primetime colleagues went all but unmentioned during Fox’s pre-recorded presentation, their style of bigotry and mendacity was represented in the room by Pete Hegseth, a Fox & Friends weekend host who pitched advertisers on the network’s streaming service. Hegseth has repeatedly pushed the same “replacement” narrative on Fox, warning viewers of a “full-scale invasion” of Haitian immigrants “coming to your backyard” and arguing that Democrats are deliberately allowing unchecked immigration for political gain. He is one of the network’s staunchest supporters of the insurrectionists who sacked the U.S. Capitol, validating them the very next day as people who simply “love freedom” and want to “defend our republic.” A member of former President Donald Trump’s Fox cabinet of network advisers, Hegseth has refused to admit Trump lost the 2020 election.

Fox’s on-air programming had largely avoided talking about the Buffalo shooter’s “great replacement” motivation. But as prospective advertisers mingled with the Fox brass and presenters at the afterparty following the network’s pitch, Fox’s stars were on-air making clear that they not only have no intention of apologizing for promoting white supremacist conspiracy theories – but that they consider themselves among the victims of the massacre.

On his 7 PM. broadcast, Jesse Watters, who has accused Democrats of “breaking the border on purpose” to “overwhelm the system in order to achieve more political power,” described criticism linking the shooter’s manifesto to right-wing invocations of “replacement theory” as an attempt to “further divide this country by race and profit from that division politically” and as a “psy ops game.”

Carlson has accused President Joe Biden and the Jewish financier and philanthropist George Soros of trying to alter the “racial mix” of the U.S. through "’the great replacement,’" “the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries,” because they want to “destroy” the country, and even urged his viewers to take action in response.

On Monday night, he lashed out at his critics, arguing that they were using “race politics” in a manner that “always leads to violence and death,” and invoking the Rwandan genocide.

Sean Hannity, who has accused Democrats of engineering “a quid pro quo: We'll give you citizenship for free, we hope you vote Democrat,” said the following hour that “many on the left” were “exploiting” the shooting by “blaming Republicans and conservatives and talk show hosts and Fox News.”

And in the 10 p.m. hour, Laura Ingraham, who has told her viewers that Democrats “want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever-increasing number of chain migrants,” said that while some critics say that the shooter’s “accomplices” are Republican politicians parroting the same talking points, “the real accomplices are in the media” for trying to “censor opposing views.”

Fox is denying its advertisers any wiggle room whatsoever. Its biggest stars are clearly signaling that they will continue to use the same rhetoric that motivated the Buffalo shooter and an array of terrorists before him. The Fox brass, from the Murdochs on down, have no apparent qualms about what they are doing and no intention of getting them to stop. The only question for Fox’s advertisers is whether they are willing to continue their own complicit participation.

Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott closed the network’s presentation on Monday by highlighting its “loyal audience.” Advertisers should worry about whether Fox’s programming might be driving that audience to do something other than buy their products.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Bitter GOP Split Over Pennsylvania Senate Primary Erupts On Fox

Fox News’ role as an appendage of the Republican Party has made the network a battlefield for the U.S. Senate primary in Pennsylvania as two of its prime-time hosts rally behind different candidates.

Sean Hannity is supporting Dr. Mehmet Oz, a heart surgeon and TV personality notorious for promoting pseudoscience and medical misinformation. Hannity has hosted 19 of the 25 Fox weekday interviews Oz has done since declaring his candidacy, and he regularly invites him on his nationally syndicated radio show. He has vouched for Oz’s political bona fides, publicly endorsed him on his TV and radio shows, and used his influence with Donald Trump to secure the former president’s coveted support.

Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, appears to favor Dave McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO and Bush administration official. She has given McCormick 3 of his 9 total Fox weekday interviews during the primary and criticized Trump and Hannity for backing Oz.

Hannity and Ingraham are both GOP kingmakers, and their shows are among the party’s most influential platforms. Their colleague Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, has ignored the Pennsylvania race altogether as he focused on helping J.D. Vance to victory in the Ohio Senate primary.

Oz, who entered the public consciousness through broadcast TV as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and on his own eponymous program, used regular appearances on Fox to rebrand as a right-wing commentator, much as Trump himself did a decade ago. Oz has appeared on Fox weekday programs at least 130 times since September 2017, according to the Media Matters guest database, including 75 interviews on Fox & Friends and 38 on Hannity.

Oz became a fixture on the network during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped him cement his relationships with Hannity and Trump. The Fox host regularly hosted Oz for interviews on his TV and radio shows and repeatedly stressed that the two stay up talking until 2 o’clock or “3 in the morning now, late at night.” Oz’s Fox appearances attracted the Fox-obsessed president’s attention, particularly his constant support for the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as treatment (studies show this drug is not effective). In response, Trump urged his administration officials to consult with Oz on their handling of COVID-19.

Those relationships proved crucial to Oz’s Senate run. As a first-time candidate with a long history of statements unpopular with his party’s base, Oz has benefited from the public approval of Hannity and Trump. “The best thing he has going for him is his relationship with Hannity,” a conservative operative told New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi for a December profile of Oz.

Hours after Oz announced his candidacy, Hannity gave him the opportunity to pitch himself to the Fox audience. Introducing Oz for that November 30 interview, Hannity stressed that Oz had “a lot of similarities” to Trump, and he highlighted their personal friendship and their “many conversations, too numerous to count, late into the night” at the start of the pandemic.

During the interview Hannity asked Oz some softball questions about why he was running and how he would respond to the criticism that he is new to the state. He then offered him a chance to assuage the concerns of conservatives who might doubt that he is one of them.

“I say I'm a conservative. I used to say I'm a Reagan conservative. I would say I'm an America First, Make America Great Again conservative,” Hannity said. “How would you describe, in just a sentence, your political ideology, philosophy? You are running as -- in a Republican primary. How would you sum it up?”

Oz replied, “I match yours.”

Oz used subsequent appearances on Hannity’s Fox show to push back against criticisms that he is insufficiently conservatives, lash out at right-wing targets like Dr. Anthony Fauci, and denounce President Joe Biden for firing him from the presidential fitness council.

Hannity has formally endorsed Oz’s campaign. While introducing him for a March 3 interview on his radio show, Hannity said: “I'm supporting his nomination to be the Republican candidate. I've known him for many, many years. Some people said, ‘How do I know he's a conservative, Hannity?’ I got the same questions about Donald Trump, and I think I was proven right.” On Fox, Hannity likewise said on March 23 that Oz will “make a great senator. I've known him for years. He is a solid America First, Make America Great Again conservative. That's why I'm supporting him, and a friend.”

Oz prominently displays Hannity’s support on his campaign website’s endorsements page.

Hannity’s role at Fox ensures Oz’s access to a large audience of Republican base voters — but his sidegig as a GOP political operative may have been even more valuable to Oz’s campaign. He spent the Trump administration moonlighting as one of the president’s most trusted advisers and reportedly used that influence on Oz’s behalf. Other key Trump allies denounced Oz as a latecomer to the movement and many conservative luminaries backed McCormick. But Hannity reportedly “actively lobbied for Trump to endorse the celebrity doctor” and his recommendation “played an outsized role in influencing Trump’s decision” to do so in an April 9 statement.

Two nights later on Fox, Hannity sought to lessen the blowback from Trump’s endorsement. “Dr. Oz is the America First candidate and running in Pennsylvania, which is why I have endorsed him,” Hannity said while introducing the candidate for yet another interview. “He's fully behind the America First, Make America Great Again agenda, strong on the border, strong on energy independence, tough on crime, believes in law and order, supports the right to life, he follows the science on COVID, wants to fire Fauci.”

But the next night on her own Fox show, Ingraham joined the critics of Trump’s endorsement — and highlighted Hannity’s influence on the decision.

After playing a video of Oz making comments about climate change, guns, and abortion that are anathema to conservatives, Ingraham asked her guest, former Trump White House official Kellyanne Conway, whether Trump had erred. When Conway refused to give a straight answer, Ingraham said, “Hannity, I think, I believe, endorsed Oz and … that’s probably not inconsequential for President Trump” before adding, “I think it was a mistake to endorse Oz. I'll say it. I'm not afraid to say it. It was a mistake to endorse Oz.”

While Ingraham has not formally endorsed Oz’s primary opponent McCormick, she has repeatedly offered him a platform and praised his background.

“All eyes are on the top two candidates, one of them served in the Turkish military, Dr. Oz, everyone knows him from TV,” she said while introducing McCormick for a February 22 interview. “And the other went to West Point and served as an Army Ranger in the Gulf War.”

McCormick received an opportunity to pitch his candidacy to Ingraham’s viewers and respond to criticism that he won’t be “tough on China” like Trump. His answers apparently satisfied her concerns. “You clarified a lot, Dave, tonight, and we really appreciate your joining us,” she said at the end of the interview.

Ingraham used subsequent interviews with McCormick to give him a chance to push back against Oz’s attacks on his position on tariffs with China and to levy his own salvos at Oz’s past statements on abortion.

She isn’t the only one at Fox who seems to prefer McCormick. Host Mark Levin told him he would make “an excellent senator” during an interview, while contributors Mike Huckabee and Mike Pompeo have endorsed and campaigned for him.

Fox will win the primary no matter which Republican emerges from the May 17 election, but it remains to be seen which Fox host has more sway with GOP voters in Pennsylvania.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Newly Released Text Messages Show Fox Anchors Plotting Trump's Coup

On Friday, CNN reported on a newly unearthed set of text messages between former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and multiple Fox News hosts, exchanged during the two-and-a-half months between Election Day 2020 and President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021. The texts further reveal the extent to which Fox was integral to Trump’s plot to illegally hold onto power after losing the election. The texts also prove yet again that Fox operates day-to-day as a propaganda arm for the Republican Party, not as a news organization.

Maria Bartiromo Gave Trump Questions And Guidance In Advance Of Interview

CNN reported that Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo gave Meadows the questions in advance of her interview with President Donald Trump on the November 29, 2020, edition of her weekend show on Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures. The texts reveal that Bartiromo also provided Trump with explicit messaging guidance and instructions on how to respond to her softball questions, which she intended to help him better make his case that the election outcome was illegitimate. The segment was Trump’s first TV interview since the election, and it aired roughly three weeks after all the major media outlets, including Fox News, had projected Biden as the winner.

Bartiromo texted Meadows that morning, hours before the interview with Trump, to claim that “the public wants to know he will fight this,” and that people “want to hear a path to victory” and that “he's in control.” (The entire premise of Bartiromo’s line of questioning was false, because a majority of “the public” had just voted for Biden.)

She then laid out the first question she would ask: “1Q You've said MANY TIMES THIS ELECTION IS RIGGED... And the facts are on your side. Let's start there. What are the facts? Characterize what took place here. Then I will drill down on the fraud including the statistical impossibilities of Biden magic (federalist).” (Based on Bartiromo’s word choice, it is possible that she was referring to a piece from a week earlier in the right-wing site The Federalist, titled “5 More Ways Joe Biden Magically Outperformed Election Norms.”)

Surely enough, the interview began exactly with that question: “Mr. President, you have said many times that this election was rigged, that there was much fraud, and the facts are on your side. Let's start there. Please go through the facts, characterize what took place.”

Throughout the rest of the interview, Bartiromo provided Trump with a platform to air a litany of lies about the election results, going on for 45 minutes, including his outlandish claims about voting machines being used to change the results. Dominion Voting Systems is currently suing Fox News for $1.6 billion for the network’s role in Trump’s defamation campaign against the voting machine company. Another voting technology firm, Smartmatic, is suing Fox News for $2.7 billion and has also named Bartiromo as a defendant for her role in promoting conspiracy theories that the company played a role in altering the election result.

Separately, ABC News’ chief Washington correspondent, Jonathan Karl, reported last year that Bartiromo had called then-Attorney General Bill Barr in mid-November 2020, complaining to him that the Justice Department had not taken action against supposed voter fraud. “She called me up and she was screaming,” Barr told Karl. “I yelled back at her. She’s lost it.” Fox News denied the reports of Bartiromo’s unprofessional conduct — though this wasn’t exactly convincing, because Bartiromo had publicly stated her hopes for Barr to intervene and help reverse the election results.

Hannity Was “At War" With Chris Wallace And News Reporters

Another Fox News host who is heavily implicated in the latest texts is Sean Hannity, who was already known to have functioned as Trump’s “shadow” chief of staff and as a constant sounding board for the disgraced former president. Previously released texts had shown that Hannity tried to work on damage control after the failed coup attempt on January 6, and that he had urged the White House to have Trump call off his supporters from attacking the Capitol. (In public, Hannity claimed the attackers were left-wing infiltrators.) Other texts show that Hannity took instructions from Meadows on coordinating get-out-the-vote messaging on Election Day in 2020. The latest revelations demonstrate the extent of Hannity’s efforts to keep Fox News from straying away from the administration’s illegal efforts to cling to power.

On December 6, 2020, Meadows sent Hannity a link to an article in The Hill, highlighting a segment from that morning’s edition of Fox News Sunday in which the show’s then-host Chris Wallace pointedly interrupted Trump’s former secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, after Azar had referred to Joe Biden as “Vice President Biden.”

“He's the president-elect, sir,” Wallace replied, repeating that point again in their conversation.

In texts to Hannity, Meadows castigated Wallace and Fox, writing, “Doing this to try and get ratings will not work in the long run and I am doubtful it is even a short term winning strategy.”

“I've been at war with them all week,” Hannity replied.

Meadows later asked on December 11, 2020, for Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott’s direct phone number — noting that he wished to avoid making a call to the network’s main switchboard. Hannity asked the next day whether Meadows had gotten through to Fox executives, again declaring, “I’ve been at war with them.” (As it turned out, Meadows had not yet called Scott, as he had been too busy working on the Trump administration’s lame-duck pardons.)

Keep in mind that the major news networks had all projected Biden as the winner a month before, on November 7 — and yes, that included Fox. The network, however, undermined its own decision desk’s projections by attempting to subvert the election results nearly 600 times in just the two weeks after the election call.

To the degree that tension existed between the opinion and alleged “straight news” sides at Fox, that conflict has since been resolved by Chris Wallace’s decision a year later to quit the network. Wallace said recently that he had been fine with opinion content on the channel, but he had reached his limit. “When people start to question the truth — Who won the 2020 election? Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? — I found that unsustainable.”

Hannity, of course, is still at Fox, where he is launching smear campaigns, parroting Kremlin spokespeople, and helping Trump to continue pushing the Big Lie.

Sean Hannity wrote one cheesy Trump campaign ad — and he may have written yet another one that never aired

This latest batch of text messages also reveals that Hannity lied last year about the extent of his connections to the Trump campaign — seemingly confirming a story that Hannity had previously described as being “full of shit.”

Last year, Wall Street Journal senior White House reporter Mike Bender published a book about the 2020 election and its aftermath, titled Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost. The book revealed that Hannity had actually written a Trump campaign ad, which insiders even referred to as “the Hannity ad” and “the one Hannity wrote.” The specific ad in question was an attack spot that seemed to deploy every anti-Biden talking point at once, referring to him as a “47-year swamp creature” who had “accomplished nothing,” and tying him to the so-called “radical, socialist Green New Deal.” Trump’s campaign staff reportedly ridiculed it.

“Inside the campaign, the spot was mocked mercilessly, mostly because of the dramatic, over-the-top language and a message that seemed to value quantity over quality,” Bender wrote. The campaign came up with a solution to the problem, by running the ad only during Hannity’s own show on Fox News: “If Trump and Hannity watched the spot on television – and were satisfied enough to stop asking about the commercial – that seemed to be the best result of the ad. The cost of that investment: $1.5m.”

Hannity, however, denied the story in very strong terms. “The world knows that Sean Hannity supports Donald Trump,” he told Bender. “But my involvement specifically in the campaign — no. I was not involved that much. Anybody who said that is full of shit.”

On December 8, 2020, however, as Hannity and Meadows commiserated via text, Hannity bemoaned that the campaign had not done more on the topic of election fraud during the campaign — including regarding an ad he had written for them.

“I was screaming about no ads from Labor Day on,” he wrote. “I made my own they never ran it. I'm not pointing fingers. I'm frustrated.” It is possible here that Hannity may have been referring to yet another campaign ad that he wrote, but which still went unaired.

Hannity’s vulgar denial to Bender of the earlier campaign ad not only reveals that he is a liar, but there’s more. In this instance, he also lied to a news reporter at The Wall Street Journal, the most prominent of the Murdoch media empire’s journalistic front operations and a perpetual doormat for the opinion side. The fact that he would lie to one of his colleagues from another Murdoch publication clearly demonstrates the sense of leverage Hannity has over anyone who thinks they really can report news while working at a Murdoch outlet.

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.