Apparently, Sean Hannity was pretty upset with RedState on air today. Specifically, he was upset with us for running this story about the astonishing 41 fluff interviews he has given Donald Trump since Trump announced his candidacy. He blamed us for, among other things, “cutting and pasting” an article from ThinkProgress (in the blogging world, we refer to that as “blockquoting,”) and for being unfair to him with respect to the treatment of candidates.
The furor over Hannity’s softball treatment of Trump has clearly gotten to Hannity, and his executive producer has penned this lengthy blog post about the amount of time that has been given to various other Republican candidates. At the risk of being accused by Sean Hannity of having committed the grievous sin of “cutting and pasting,” I am going to blockquote the relevant portion of it below:
To put this plainly, there is no conspiracy here to give one candidate more time over another. The candidates have an open invitation to come on the show, and it is their choice to take that offer or ignore it. Here is the breakdown of candidate times on the radio show since they announced through March of this year:
Texas Senator Ted Cruz: 188:39
Florida Senator Marco Rubio: 141:00
Businessman and Entrepreneur Donald Trump: 112:28
Governor of Ohio John Kasich: 87:52
Time on ‘Hannity’ TV Show since each candidate announced:
Texas Senator Ted Cruz: 34 appearances
Businessman and Entrepreneur Donald Trump: 32 appearances
Governor John Kasich of Ohio: 20 appearances
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul: 20 appearances
Florida Senator Marco Rubio: 19 appearances
Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie: 17 appearances
Businesswoman Carly Fiorina: 15 appearances
Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush: 14 appearances
Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee: 14 appearances
Dr. Ben Carson: 13 appearances
Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker: 6 appearances
Former Governor of Texas Rick Perry: 4 appearances
Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal: 3 appearances
Former Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum: 3 appearances
Senator Lindsey Graham: 1 appearance
Former Governor of New York George Pataki: 0 appearances
This kind of simplistic response really misses the point of the entire article. The complaint we raised at RedState (and, quite frankly, which was noted with 100% accuracy by ThinkProgress) was not about the number of interviews given to Donald Trump, it was about the fact that when Hannity “interviews” Trump, he does so without generating any actual news or friction at all.
The last time Hannity had Cruz on his show, he spouted Trump-generated talking points at Cruz, to the point that Cruz’s campaign mused openly during the interview that they might never appear on Hannity’s show again. Hannity has likewise blasted Marco Rubio as an inauthentic flip-flopper on immigration. Hannity has aggressively grilled Rand Paul on his views about the military, foreign intervention, and torture.
When he interviews Donald Trump, it’s mostly to confront him about how awesome he is. And that was the point of the piece.
The point of the piece is that Hannity bills himself as an unabashed conservative. No one would complain at all if he gave the exact same amount of time to interviews of Barack Obama that he did to interviews of Ted Cruz. What we would expect, however, is that if Barack Obama were foolhardy enough to go on Sean Hannity’s show on 41 separate occasions, then there would be multiple instances of the sparks flying and several instances of Obama (hopefully) being caught saying something politically damaging. The whole alleged point of Hannity’s schtick is that a guy like Ted Cruz should be treated differently from a guy like Barack Obama.
Which brings us to Donald Trump. The reason that Hannity is suddenly hearing it from all sides (not just RedState) about his subservient treatment of Trump is that over 60% of the Republican party realizes that Trump does not have an ideological core that is meaningfully different from Hillary’s. Moreover, we realize that every week that goes by, Trump says things that are flatly embarrassing, fundamentally non-conservative, and damaging to both the conservative and Republican brand. Any semi-competent interviewer who was even interested in appearing fair should ask at least one question of Donald Trump in any given interview that makes news.
And Hannity does not. The reason Hannity is being criticized is not that he gives an inordinate amount of air time to Donald Trump, and his response that addresses only the airtime aspect of this is a classic misdirection on this front. The reason Hannity is being criticized is that he is giving a ton of airtime to a not very good caricature of a conservative, and that he is doing absolutely nothing to expose a faker for what he is.
Worse, he is actively helping Trump defray controversies that should be harming him with conservative voters.
Now listen, it’s Hannity’s show, so he can do with it whatever he wants. Same as we can here at RedState. But the 60%+ of the Republican party that is opposed to Trump is not blind and stupid. We know when someone is pro-Trump and only pretending to be neutral. Hannity’s protestations to the contrary are insulting to the intelligence of his own audience and definitely insulting to the intelligence of the writers here at RedState. If he gets caught playing this game, it’s his own problem if he faces criticism for the fact that it’s pointed out, not ours.
Here at RedState, we are happy that we aren’t burdened with any false obligation to display the pretense of fairness towards Trump. Trump is a fake conservative, a charlatan, and would be a disastrous Republican nominee, so we oppose him. We put that on our sleeves and let the chips fall where they may.
It’s an approach Sean Hannity really ought to consider.