Informed Citizenry Vital To Democracy: Fox News Lied About Voter Fraud Rupert Murdoch Says Under Oath

Sean Hannity and the loser of the 2020 presidential election

This weekend President Joe Biden was interviewed by ABC News and a large portion of it aired on This Week Sunday morning.   While there was much interest in international affairs the part that struck me was the comments made about news coverage in the United States.  It is, after all, a topic that resonates at this desk as democracy and the dangers it faces have become a focal point since the summer of 2015. The continued repetition of lies from one television network and the lack of a fully factual accounting of national and world events is of great concern to those who hold tight to the ideals of liberal democracy.

“Everything is in the negative. We’re also finding out now that one of the outlets has decided that they would put things on that they know to be false in order to increase their ratings”, the president said. He is correct, as court documents prove.

I had, over the years, and thankfully so, several truly wonderful history teachers. They loved and understood the topics at hand; never the part-time football coach who needed more of an income so offered to teach what was not remotely understood in the textbook. My favorite and most consequential teacher was Marge Glad who left Europe in WWII and brought a worldview that resonated with me year after year.  I took every elective of hers I could fit into my schedule.

It was her repeated themes that were imprinted upon me about history, politics, and world matters that started me on a lifelong quest to know more.  She so admired Thomas Jefferson and spent one entire class lecturing about how his style of writing was to match the needs of the time with his intended audience. Both in the Founding Father family, more importantly to the colonies at large.  So, she would know the power of his meaning in relation to the threat to democracy from a segment of the populace that is adrift from facts about news events.

Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” Being well-informed is a vital component of a strong functioning democracy.  Or republic. But being misinformed for purely partisan reasons would be a complete repudiation of what Jefferson and his colleagues desired for this nation.

This memory of a grand educator–and why facts matter–came to mind as the news was reported Monday that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the conservative media empire that owns Fox News, acknowledged in a deposition that several hosts for his networks promoted the false narrative that the election in 2020 was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

“They endorsed,” Mr. Murdoch said under oath in response to direct questions about the hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, a legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems said.  

Mr. Murdoch’s remarks, which he made last month as part of the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox by Dominion, added to the evidence that Dominion has accumulated in an attempt to prove its central allegation: The people running the country’s most popular news network knew Trump’s claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election were false but broadcast them anyway.

Where conservatives lose further credibility can be proven by their close attachment to Trump, the one they were supposed to be covering with objective distance. I am old enough to recall the resentment registered by conservatives in the years following the Kennedy administration where it was stated reporters were chummy with JFK insiders, where even one reporter (Hugh Sidey) was able to swim in the White House pool with the president. Swim trunks, or no? But when it came to Fox News and Donald Trump all those journalistic ponderings about objectivity from right-wingers were tossed aside like a second marriage.

Stephanie Grisham, former press secretary to Donald Trump, remembers the challenges that came from so many Fox News hosts having the direct number to reach Trump in the White House residence.

“There were times the president would come down the next morning and say, ‘Well, Sean thinks we should do this,’ or, ‘Judge Jeanine thinks we should do this,’ said Grisham, referring to Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro, both of whom host prime-time Fox News shows.

Grisham said West Wing staffers would simply roll their eyes in frustration as they scrambled to respond to the influence of the network’s hosts, who weighed in on everything from personnel to messaging strategy.

Lies spread by Fox News could constitute each day of blogging if one were so inclined. A separate and lengthy post could be written about Fox News employees being vaccinated even though the fact-free on-air hosts continued to deny science and professional medically-driven data to their viewers. Why report on science when the base of nitwit viewers could be drooling over anti-vaccine Senator Ron Johnson, someone very chromosome-counting close to being an ear of corn?

Consider the following from our history, and frame it within the context of white men now slumped back into the sofa watching a continuous conservative loop of misinformation on Fox News. When did they last read a daily newspaper to be actually informed on the news of the day?

In 1791, Madison remarked that Congress had an obligation to improve the “circulation of newspapers through the entire body of the people”. He helped champion the Post Office Act of 1792. The act included a provision for the delivery of newspapers by the Post Office at extremely low rates for delivery of newspapers. For the century following the passage of the Post Office Act, newspapers often accounted for more than 95% of the weight of mail transported by the post office, but never made up for more than 15% of the revenue. The result of this large indirect subsidy of the fledgling industry was enormous. In 1790, before the passage of the act there was less than one newspaper produced for every 5 citizens. By 1840 there were almost three papers printed per person.

Too many Americans in the 21st century gave up reading a newspaper and slipped further into intellectual decay by believing Fox is a newsgathering operation. It is not. Real reporters and journalists have been replaced by echo chambers of far-right lingo that further prove Fox is not in any way a legitimate news-gathering and reporting operation.

Rupert Murdock confirmed that fact under oath.

A fact that has been dangerous to our democracy.

Sean Hannity, Fox News, Tarnishes Actual Reporters And News Operations

I was not surprised by the news that landed this morning concerning Sean Hannity and Fox News, but it was dismaying. While the politics of the story is concerning in relation to the 2020 election, the underlying theme of a major news operation linked at the hip with the Republican Party is most worthy of more public attention.

The central story concerns CNN obtaining 2,319 text messages that Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent and received between Election Day 2020 and President Joe Biden’s  January 20, 2021, inauguration. Meadows selectively provided these messages to the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Among the trove of texts are more than 80 from Fox’s Sean Hannity.

Hannity spews and hates in equal measure in the text messages, which is his true character, as we know from his on-air broadcasts to these now-public texts. He writes that “Biden is a semi conscious corpse”, uses Michael Corleone as a reference point, and clearly demonstrates how he is as much a partisan huckster as a blow-haired bloviator during his evening program.

“Also if this doesn’t end the way we want, you me and Jay are doing 3 things together. 1- Directing legal strategies vs Biden 2- NC Real estate 3- Other business I talked to Rudy.”

The fact that Hannity both blatantly gives advice on White House politics and strategy and asks for direction and guidance so clearly obliterates the lines between Fox News, his show, and the Trump White House that it leaves a citizen almost breathless.

The sole purpose of Fox News is not in doubt. News has always been an alleged function of the network. It is an active echo chamber in the media for all things Republican and conservative. The undermining of facts and any sense of journalistic responsibility for the presentation of actual news and holding to journalism standards is the last concern of Fox News. It is also about their partisan interests.

Which then undermines the rest of the news world which does strive to do the job of journalism.

History-minded readers might recall the name Philip Freneau. When Thomas Jefferson became so piqued with Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists he turned to Freneau to form a newspaper that would publish views of the opposition. The National Gazette was not unlike most of the papers of the time—and there were scores of them–in that the content was abrasive and politically toxic.

So the idea of amassing resources and creating a ‘news source’ has long been a feature of our nation. But over the centuries the standards for journalism have evolved, and we better understand the vital necessity in a democracy created of an informed electorate. Fox News has turned back the calendar to the days of Freneau. And that does not serve the best interests of the nation.

While Hannity is–well, what he is–it does need noting that there must be an ethical aspect to the role he plays at Fox News. While no one would term him a journalist, he still has an ethical obligation to not participate in the issues he rants about. Even Hannity should be able to understand that point.

Admittedly, I come from the ‘old school’ where it was not acceptable or professional for a news organization, or any of their faces or voices as the case may be, to actively engage with the newsmakers and especially with politicos to alter the page of history that is being written. Such behavior would be blatantly unethical. (This very reason is why Chris Cuomo needed to be jettisoned from CNN.)

Such behavior from Hannity and others of his stripe has sadly added to the public mistrust and lack of regard for the actual news reporters and ethically bound journalists who do strive to maintain standards. The latter are the majority among the media, but of course, it is the ones who break the bonds of trust with the public who gets the headlines.

And so it goes.

Sean Hannity To Give Political Lap Dance To Donald Trump–Publicly

Fox News is not journalism. Discerning people understand that fact. With the softball propaganda to be given to Donald Trump this weekend as the Fox Network airs the SuperBowl comes the needed critique from many who know the difference between a serious interview and a political lap dance.

The Trump-Hannity interview will almost certainly amount to a giant campaign ad for Trump.  Instead of flexing its (diminishing) news muscles and giving Bret Baier or Chris Wallace the opportunity to interview Trump, the network is letting Hannity snuggle and cuddle while lobbing softballs to him.

The professional Fox critics over at Media Matters weighed in on Friday… “Fox’s message is clear: When the stakes are highest and the spotlight is brightest, the network produces right-wing propaganda, not journalism,” Matt Gertz wrote. “This would be an embarrassment for Fox if anyone there still had any capacity for embarrassment. But as we’ve seen, the network has long abandoned even the pretense that any rules apply to Hannity, its undisputed standard-bearer. He is the epitome of Fox’s news product, and so it is appropriate that he represent it to the world. Fox is Sean Hannity’s network, and it doesn’t care who knows it.

Fox News Has To Prove Itself Today Regarding Sean Hannity

We are going to find out what kind of ‘news’ organization Fox is today.  The reason is simple.  No serious news organization would allow someone as conflicted as Sean Hannity to cover the Michael Cohen story.

Hannity stood outburst-to-outburst alongside Cohen since last week when the FBI raided Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room, calling the Justice Department’s investigation a “witch hunt.”   As we know from the bombshell yesterday Hannity has used Cohen’s legal services.

Hannity was a client of Cohen’s, a revelation that came out in a court proceeding.  But let us not miss in anyway that in all Hannity’s ranting about the unfair treatment of Cohen, Hannity never mentioned Cohen had provided him legal guidance.

Hannity tried to couch the revelation, saying he never paid Cohen, other than “10 bucks” to establish attorney-client privilege. He was vague about what Cohen actually did for him.

But as we know Cohen is a ‘fixer’ and does not come cheap.    There is far more to find out then what Hannity is lamely trying to spin in the last 24 hours.

If there is ANY ethics at Fox News is has to present itself today.

As The Washington Post writes today this is not a hard call as to what needs to happen.

You don’t need to be an ethics expert to know that this amounts to a conflict of interest, one that clearly required disclosure to Fox viewers. That never happened.

Fox should do the right thing now: It should address the ethical breach in a public statement, apologize to viewers and discipline Hannity.

At any other major news organization, this would be a fireable offense. 

What Perversion Was Sean Hannity Involved In To Need Michael Cohen’s Fix?

Sean Hannity, the outspoken Faux News host who has been waging war on the air against special counsel Robert Mueller and is one of Donald Trump’s biggest defenders, was revealed this afternoon to be one of only three clients that Michael Cohen, the Trump’s personal attorney, had during 2017 and 2018.

In a legal filing earlier in the day, Cohen and his attorneys sought to shield Hannity’s name from becoming public.  But during Monday’s court proceedings, which are tied to a dispute over materials seized in an FBI raid of Cohen’s home and office, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood ordered Cohen’s attorney to disclose the client’s identity.  It is not known why Hannity retained Cohen.

But we do know that one does not retain Cohen for a parking ticket.

Cohen is hired when there are two drunk hookers and a llama in the car when that ticket is written.

This story is going to be fun as it plays out!

Sean Hannity Got Slapped Around On National TV

In a story about political partisanship in the country, CBS Sunday Morning contributor and former Nightline host Ted Koppel interviewed Fox News host Sean Hannity. And now Hannity has his undies in a bunch because he was not able to control the way the final story was edited and presented.

Here is how the conversation flowed.  Koppel’s story wasn’t a profile of Hannity, but rather how Hannity’s show, and those like it, exacerbate the divide, which led to a contentious moment:

Hannity: You think we’re bad for America? You think I’m bad for America.

Koppel: Yeah. Yeah. In the long haul I think you, and all these opinion shows…

Hannity: You do? Really? That’s sad.

Koppel: …because you’re very good at what you do and because you have attracted a significantly more influential…

Hannity: You are selling the American people short.

Koppel: Let me finish the sentence before you do that.

Hannity: I’m listening. With all due respect. Take the floor.

Koppel: You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.

Of course CBS edited down the lengthy interview for the broadcast.  This is not the first time Hannity has been on television and clearly knows the constraint of time in a broadcast.  So the rabid right-winger is upset that his interview ends with Koppel remarking that Hannity has “attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts”.  Which is a fact.

In the interview, Koppel told Hannity that his show is “bad for America.” The discussion occurred after a segment aired on the show about political polarization of the country and “alternate universes” Americans are living in where TV pundits such as Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh may be contributing to blurring the lines between opinions and facts and are “driving the country further and further apart.”

Later in the segment with White House spokesman Sean Spicer, Koppel asked whether Americans should take President Trump literally in light of criticism that he spreads falsehoods.

“No, I think you should take him literally. The president’s very authoritative when he speaks. He wants to be taken literally. And also you have to understand that when you have 140 characters, that somebody trying to look at that and say, ‘This means the following’ is a little bit too much,​”​ Spicer said.​

“That’s one good reason for not using Twitter to communicate serious issues,” said Koppel.