On Monday, writing for the Washington Post, media critic Erik Wemple laid out the case for why Sean Hannity must be fired by Fox News.
As Wemple noted, the network has just terminated Fox Business pundit Trish Regan, just after her “Coronavirus Impeachment Hoax” stunt — but Hannity has done far worse than that, repeatedly, and not been held to account for it.
“On Friday afternoon of last week, Fox disclosed that the network had ‘parted ways’ with Regan. There was no good explanation. ‘[W]e thank her for her contributions to the network over the years and wish her continued success in her future endeavors,'” wrote Wemple. “Those hollow words come in lieu of any Fox reckoning with some of the coronavirus programming that has come from its opinion hosts. In particular, franchise prime-timer Sean Hannity.”
Wemple laid out Hannity and Regan’s commentary side by side, and pointed out they had said almost the same thing: “Hannity, Feb. 27: ‘They’re now sadly politicizing and actually weaponizing an infectious disease, in what is basically just the latest effort to bludgeon President Trump.’ Regan, March 9: ‘Many in the liberal media using, and I mean using, coronavirus in an attempt to demonize and destroy the president.'”
In late February, Wemple noted, the rest of the media was documenting the exponential growth of the virus and the United States’ lack of preparedness in testing. “It was right in the midst of this bad-news plume that Hannity offered his ill-informed takes on the virus — just as the president was coming under attack and needed someone on cable news to defend him. On Feb. 26, Hannity blasted Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) for using ‘coronavirus to bludgeon President Trump, not telling the truth as usual — shameless politicizing of health and the well-being of Americans.’ The next night, he kept it up. Only after a backlash managed to place him within roaming distance of reality did he begin to change his tone.”
Wemple also noted that other sources have reported Regan had displayed insubordination and violations of journalistic ethics, which was also a factor in her dismissal. But Hannity, too, has a long and ugly track record.
“As reported in this blog, he once earned a public rebuke from the network for participating in a video promotion for Trump’s 2016 campaign,” wrote Wemple. “He earned another public rebuke when he appeared onstage with Trump at a 2018 rally, at which he called assembled media ‘fake news’ even though staffers from his own network were in attendance. He attacked his own network’s polling, even though that unit at Fox News is widely respected. He has cited bogus polling in defiance of news-side standards. He has used the same lawyer — Michael Cohen, now serving a federal prison sentence — as Trump. And who could forget the Seth Rich episode?”
The only real difference, Wemple concluded, was that Hannity enjoys much higher ratings. But the fact that his misinformation reaches more people ought to be even more damning for him.
“In a column last week, Ben Smith of The New York Times placed the responsibility for this mess precisely where it belongs — in the inboxes of Fox Corp,” wrote Wemple. “CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott. Opinionators like Hannity, argued Smith, respond to cues from the boss in the White House, not to their ‘nominal bosses’ in the company. That those ‘nominal bosses’ moved to ‘part ways’ with Trish Regan while leaving Hannity unscathed only fortifies Smith’s argument. It’s time. Hannity must go.”
You can read more here.