Last week on his radio show, Sean Hannity observed that "it's funny to me - because every Republican presidential candidate we have interviewed either the day they announce, or the day after they announce."
At the time, Hannity was prodding media outlets who were upset about his being granted the first interview with Jon Huntsman after Huntsman kicked off his campaign in New Jersey last week.
As we noted earlier today, four major candidates for the GOP presidential nomination have granted Hannity an interview shortly after announcing their campaigns. Just this month, Hannity has hosted Bachmann three times, Gingrich twice, and Pawlenty and Romney once each. (He has also hosted perennial sort-of-candidates Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.)
It may be "funny" to Hannity, but it's certainly no coincidence that he keeps landing plum interviews with GOP candidates. His show is a natural extension of the campaign trail.
For the most part, Hannity provides GOP candidates with an unchallenged platform to attack President Obama, Democrats, and the media. He also lets them respond in a friendly environment to any perceived weaknesses or scandals surrounding their candidacy. (Sample Hannity grilling from his interview with Bachmann last night: "What is it -- what is happening out there? Is it your message, the delivery? Why are you resonating right now?")
Hannity has been laying the groundwork for the eventual 2012 Republican candidate for years, both by committing every day of his program to tearing down the Obama administration and by hyping any potential contender to Obama.
He's been hyping GOP candidates -- both real and those merely seeking media attention -- for months now. He spent much of April of this year promoting Donald Trump's pretend presidential run while forwarding absurd conspiracy theories about President Obama's birth certificate.
During the 2010 election cycle, Hannity basically functioned as a one-man PAC. In addition to reportedly attending a fundraiser for former Fox News host and current Ohio Governor John Kasich, Hannity hosted several GOP candidates and provided an open forum for them to plug their fundraising websites on his Fox News program.
On his radio show last October, Hannity urged his listeners, "if they're in districts or states where they don't have important races going on, to sort of go out there and adopt a candidate."
His GOP boosterism was so overt that then-Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell reportedly remarked to DC Republican strategists that she had "Sean Hannity in my back pocket, and I can go on his show and raise money by attacking you guys." Similarly, then-Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle told supporters that her appearances on a "friendly press outlet" like Fox News are profitable. Angle specifically pointed to an instance where she appeared on "Sean Hannity's television show" and "made $40,000 before we even got out of the studio in New York."
Eight months later, Hannity's show is now a necessary stop for GOP presidential candidates.
So congratulations, Sean -- the GOP apparently views you as their Most Prominent Media Shill. You've certainly earned it.