News & Politics

Is Sean Hannity Coordinating with the White House?

The host denies it, but he's a known liar.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Every episode of Fox News’ Hannity follows a fairly basic formula these days: pugnacious cube-headed goon Sean Hannity serves up a monologue devoted almost entirely to the vituperative (and frequently incoherent) slander of President Donald Trump’s political adversaries, and then he lards out the hour with panel discussions featuring a small, rotating cast of like-minded Trump sycophants and the odd sacrificial liberal.

As Donald Trump’s many scandals have mushroomed, Hannity has been forced to get louder and crazier. Last night’s episode was an especially psychotic exercise in Hannity-brand demonization as he attempted to counterpunch former FBI Director James Comey, who is ramping up a book tour for his forthcoming memoir. You can watch Hannity’s monologue below, in which the host places Comey, the Clintons, and special counsel Robert Mueller as the heads of their respective “crime families.”

It’s insane, but it's what Sean Hannity does. What was interesting about last night’s show, however, was the tweet that President Trump posted at 8:48 p.m. EST, 12 minutes before Hannity started:

Big show! How would Trump know that last night’s Hannity would be a big show? Why would he want everyone to watch this specific episode of Hannity, which featured some of his favorite pundits calling for the heads of top Justice Department officials alongside an elaborate, acid-burned harangue against James Comey and Robert Mueller? What possible explanation could there be?

Well, the obvious and extremely satisfying one is that Trump knew it was coming and this was all one big coordinated attack on the credibility of the Russia investigation. That, at least, was the explanation put forth by well-sourced Trumpworld reporters. We know that Trump is in regular contact with his favorite Fox News hosts/propagandists (some of whom are old friends) and even solicits their input on policy matters. And given that Fox News is absolutely critical to the White House’s PR war against the Russia investigation, it’s not crazy to assume some level of coordination.

Hannity, however, is aghast and insulted that anyone would ever accuse him of such corruption.

“No collusion,” as it were. One should take a moment to note the specificity of Hannity’s denial -- Trump had no advance knowledge of the monologue. What about the rest of the show? If Trump had no idea what was coming, then why was he boosting the program before it aired?

Also, Hannity’s angry denials are not worth the flung spittle that accompanies them. He is so thoroughly compromised by his feral Trump advocacy that nothing he says can be taken at face value. Hannity has admitted to giving Trump advice on strategy and messaging in 2016 and described himself as “a little bit of a liaison” between the Trump campaign and Fox News. He has dinner with Trump frequently. Hannity has no core, no animating philosophy, and nothing of substance to say -- his job is to yell louder than the president's critics.

But Hannity would have us believe that he comes by his maniacal Trump boosterism honestly, that he is beyond official influence in his straight-shooting mission to cover the president as an infallible sun god molested by foul heretics and despicable blasphemers. So, I guess denying or admitting coordination doesn’t really matter because his end product is already functionally indistinct from official propaganda. Hannity’s either giving us the official White House line or the line the White House just happens to agree with entirely.

Simon Maloy is Salon's political writer. Email him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @SimonMaloy.