Tuesday night, Sean Hannity turned over two segments of his Fox News show totaling more than 13 minutes to a focus group of freshman Republican members of the House of Representatives, led by Republican strategist Frank Luntz.
The segments provided the GOP lawmakers with what amounted to free advertising time: free rein to tout their efforts at "changing the culture of Washington," to defend their votes on budget measures, and to criticize Harry Reid for preventing them from cutting even more than they did. Watch:
The second segment was largely more of the same, at one point devolving into a panegyric from Luntz on the "seriousness" of Rep. Allen West, and West defending his voting record. Hannity ended the segment by offering to invite the Congressmembers back to do the same thing "every month or two." Watch:
In total, the two segments covered 13 minutes and 39 seconds of Hannity's show.
As the 2012 election starts to take shape, Fox News appears set on reprising its role as the communications arm of the GOP. Fox has long been home to softball interviews for Republican candidates and elected officials, who are given the chance to speak through Fox, and Hannity often serves as a one man clean-up crew for Republicans who need a sympathetic outlet following a controversy. Multiple Republicans have been up-front about their reliance on Hannity for a sympathetic platform and have used his show to fundraise and attack their opponents.