Sean Hannity, in his own words, “never claimed to be a journalist,” but the FNC pundit has proven to be one of Donald Trump’s chief public mouthpieces and font of softball questions before, during and after four degrading years of the “Fox presidency.”
The Trump candidacy rescued Hannity in 2016 at a time when his message had become party-line predictable, night after night, and his ratings had begun to slip.
In turn, Hannity turned over the airwaves to Trump, served as a private sounding board, and even loaned his private jet to bring Indiana Governor Mike Pence together with Trump.
Unbelievable as it may seem, however, Hannity briefly offered Trump sensible advice in closing days of his scandal-ridden presidency, according to a treasure trove of emails obtained by the House Selection Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The committee now wants Hannity to come in and answer “a specific narrow range of questions.” On what subject? Hannity’s “detailed knowledge about President Trump’s state of mind.” And whether Hannity had “advance knowledge regarding President Trump’s and his legal team’s planning for January 6th.”
The emails, directed mostly to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, indicate that Hannity recognized that the forty-fifth president was losing it.
Trump was scheming to install a pliant attorney as acting Attorney General as part of his bid to overturn the 2020 election.
Such a course was disastrous, Hannity told Meadows. “We can’t lose the entire White House counsel’s office,” warned the bull-necked pundit. “I don’t see January 6 happening the way he (Trump) is being told. After the 6th (sic). He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Florida and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks, people will listen.”
After the insurrection, Hannity reached out again with a message to Meadows and U.S. Representative Jim Jordan, R‑Ohio, loud defender of Trump.
“Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days,” said Hannity. “He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say. And I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”
The revelations, with “dozens of text messages” where those came from, take your breath away like a U.S. Capitol cop being choked by insurrectionists on the 6th.
The emails indicate that Hannity knew full well that Trump was out-of-control and more than a little bit off his rocker.
Hannity did not convey this to viewers. Nor did he mention that on January 5th, he was “worried about the next 48 hours.”
He dared not share his inside knowledge with his true believer audience. Fox viewers expect propaganda without nuance and react with sustained abuse at any deviation from the party line. Many will believe anything Trump says, and instantly turn on any doubter or seemingly unfaithful Republican.
As with other “leaders” in the Republican Party, most notably House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Hannity has paid slavish post-election tribute to Trump. He has become a purveyor of the anti-democratic fiction that Trump was robbed in an election he lost by seven million votes. Tucker Carlson has gone further, suggesting that Deep State provocateurs egged on the mob.
Like a fish, the Trump movement is starting to rot from the head. The sense here is that the Select Committee is honing in on and nailing down responsibility. Its vice chair, Representative Liz Cheney, R‑Wyoming, revealed Sunday that first daughter Ivana Trump twice walked in on the 45th president, while he watched the insurrection on TV, and begged him to call off the attacking mob.
Normally supine Republican senators were urging Trump to call off his anniversary news conference at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday. “I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” said Senator Shelly Moore Capito, R‑West Virginia. Senator John Cornyn, R‑Texas, deputy Republican Senate leader, declared in politician speak: “I think that’s where we ought to focus our efforts, is on getting things done for the American people and not re-litigating issues that have already been decided.”
Trump called off his January 6th media event, which would have appeared a bad sideshow compared to solemn and serious observances at the U.S. Capitol.
He took a shot at the Select Committee and responded to Hannity’s “clear path to land” email by saying: “I disagree with Sean on that statement and the facts are proving me right.”
What facts are those? Not those being meticulously gathered by the Select Committee. The panel is showing increasing boldness in slapping down the legal tactics of delay. If Hannity won’t talk, the emails are talking for him.
Hannity has so far maintained an icy silence on his emails. His Fox show on Tuesday night was devoted to the usual party line.