by Ben Cohen
Going after Sean Hannity is almost certainly a pointless task if your objective is to influence him or his viewers. They are too far detached from objective reality for it to make a difference, and I see little point in mocking him just for the sake of it. I’m not in this game to demean someone for sport, and I think that once you turn someone into an ‘other’ you become part of the problem, not the solution (which is particularly hard when Donald Trump is president).
That being said, Sean Hannity provides perhaps the best example of what has gone wrong with both the media and political discourse in America — a fact that was highlighted in the aftermath of the horrendous massacre in Las Vegas this past weekend.
Hannity is a creature of the media — a hack ideologue brought in by the late Roger Ailes to parrot Republican talking points, no matter how ridiculous or blatantly false they are. If a Republican president says the sky is black, Sean Hannity’s job is to convey that to the public. If said Republican president declared a week later that the sky was really blue, Hannity would without hesitation reverse his earlier position without an ounce of shame. He would even find a way of blaming Democrats for the confusion, citing a “liberal agenda” in the media.
After the Las Vegas shooting, Sean Hannity had one job to do, and that was to protect the gun industry at all costs. Key to Republican power in the United States is solid support amongst militant 2nd Amendment advocates and the gun lobby that fuels their paranoia and obsession with lethal weapons. And that he did.
“The media, Democrats have rushed to politicize this tragedy in an absolutely despicable display,” said Hannity on his show last night in response to media figures and politicians pushing for stricter gun control. “Their impulse to politicize this tragedy as they do other tragedies is beyond the pale… to score cheap political points.”
“Bodies weren’t even in the morgue yet,” Hannity said. “Parents were in hospitals with their kids who are hanging on to life. None of this mattered to the left in this country.”
Hannity called those calling for gun control “shameful,” “exploitative” and “pathetic.”
The Orwellian nature of Hannity’s comments are impressive to say the least. 500 people were blown to pieces, with almost 60 dying from their injuries by what appears to be a vast arsenal of legal weapons in the state of Nevada. This included semiautomatic rifles, scopes and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. It is amazing that someone would attack those wanting to regulate access to that type of weaponry in the wake of such a grotesque tragedy. But not for Sean Hannity whose mind has evolved over time to discount reality and rapidly construct a completely alternate one to fit in with the agenda of the Republican party. Not only that, he goes much, much further than the standard GOP line, creating such a totally different moral universe that there can no longer be any common ground to discuss issues with the other side. Hannity exists to tribalize the right, warding them off from “other” Americans who are sick of watching their fellow citizens slaughtered down by high powered weaponry on a daily basis. Hannity provides a moral framework for Republican voters that makes them feel good about themselves regardless of the issues. Want to protect the environment? In Hannity’s world you want to destroy American businesses and support a communist agenda. Believe in a woman’s right to control her own reproductive organs? You’re a baby killing psychopath according to the Fox News host.
Whether or not Hannity actually believes any of this is besides the point. He says it with enough conviction that his followers believe that he believes it, and that’s all that really matters. It’s likely Hannity doesn’t really care one way or the other whether he believes he is telling the truth or not. When Hannity went completely off the rails with the Seth Rich murder conspiracy, Fox News reigned him in and Hannity stopped talking about it on air, signaling his salary was far more important to him than uncovering “the truth”. Hannity is a hack’s hack — a text book example of a dimwitted apparatchik who can be used to sic the opposition and shill for whoever the establishment wants to promote or protect. Hannity has no moral compass of his own — he has a scripted version of one that is packaged for the masses and defended with enough gusto to convince everyone it is real.
If the Sandy Hook massacre that saw 20 small children blown apart by a semi-automatic rifle and the Las Vegas massacre this past weekend hasn’t budged gun advocates’ position on gun control in America, there is likely no hope of ever addressing the problem. While I don’t blame Sean Hannity personally for the continuing bloodbath Americans deal with on a daily basis, he is most certainly not helping the situation. Hannity and other media figures like him annihilate truth and reasoning on a daily basis making it impossible to have a rational conversation about gun control. As long as he and others like him continue to do this, thousands of men, women and children will continue to die unnecessarily. A horrendous tragedy like Las Vegas should bring Americans together to work for a solution, but Hannity decided to politicize it instead and cover his tracks by accusing liberals of doing the same. He has been doing this for 25 years, and it’s about time Americans stopped listening to him.