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In an article for CNN.com detailing Fox News host Sean Hannity’s role as a “Republican shill” and pro-Trump advocate, CNN’s Dylan Byers highlighted Hannity’s softball interviews with Trump and his admission that he is offering a safe space for Republican candidates on his television and radio shows.
The May 2 article highlights how Hannity’s softball interviews with Trump start with Hannity citing “areas where he agrees with Trump, or where he thinks Trump was right about something, then asks him to expand on it.” Byers explained that Hannity “often ignores or defends Trump from criticism,” never asking Trump about not disavowing the Klu Klux Klan and arguing that criticism of Trump is “extraordinarily unfair.”
Byers also pointed out the support Trump has received from numerous Fox personalities including host Bill O’Reilly and the hosts of Fox & Friends, but argued that Hannity is the only host to admit his a pro-Trump characterization – making him “the most honest opinion host”:
In his interviews, Hannity frequently cites areas where he agrees with Trump, or where he thinks Trump was right about something, then asks him to expand on it. Many questions function as a set-up for Trump to discuss anything he wants: "If you win Florida and Ohio, you are well on your way to the nomination to be the Republican nominee for president," Hannity said during a March interview. "How would that make you feel?"
Hannity often ignores or defends Trump from criticism. When he interviewed Trump in the heat of the controversy over of his failure to disavow the Klu Klux Klan, he never asked Trump about it. After the CNBC debate, Hannity said to Trump: "I felt [moderator] John Harwood was extraordinarily unfair to you and attacking you... I've got to imagine that that's pretty aggravating for you. What's your reaction to it?"
Hannity thinks his critics cherry pick these examples, but there are many cherries to pick. On terrorism: "I'm sure you wish you were wrong, Mr. Trump, but you were right. What did you see that maybe others didn't see about what was happening in Brussels and Belgium?" Hannity once told Trump: "You can tell me whatever you want. You're Donald Trump. You can say anything you want."
Hannity's unapologetic advocacy has won him the support of Trump's base, a vocal coalition that loathes most members of the media. While he is hardly the only pro-Trump pundit, no other has the immense platform that is Fox News. In the first three months of 2016, Hannity averaged 1.88 million viewers a night, and his radio show is the second most-listened-to talk show in the country after Rush Limbaugh's.
Jonah Goldberg, of the conservative National Review, recently argued that Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, Eric Bolling, Bill O'Reilly and the majority of hosts on "Fox & Friends," "The Five" and "Outnumbered" are "all more pro-Trump than anti."
Several of the aforementioned hosts would likely disagree with that characterization. Hannity no longer troubles himself with such protests. In a way, that might just make him the most honest opinion host in all of cable news.
Right-wing media condemned former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) for referring to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) as “Lucifer in the flesh” and the most "miserable son of a bitch” he has ever worked with.
NY Times: Boehner Described Ted Cruz As “Lucifer In The Flesh,” The Most "Miserable Son Of A Bitch” He Ever Worked With. The New York Times reported on April 28 that Boehner “described Senator Ted Cruz as ‘Lucifer in the flesh’ … and said that he would not vote for” Cruz if he became the Republican presidential nominee:
Former House Speaker John A. Boehner described Senator Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh” during a forum at Stanford University on Wednesday and said that he would not vote for the Texas Republican if he is the party’s presidential nominee.
Mr. Boehner’s harshest assessment was saved for Mr. Cruz, who he has not forgiven for spearheading the 2013 government shutdown.
“I have Democrat friends and Republican friends,” Mr. Boehner told David Kennedy, an emeritus history professor, at the event. “I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” [The New York Times, 4/28/16]
National Review Editors: Boehner’s Comments Are “A Witless Cheap Shot” And “Petty Grudge-Holding.” National Review’s editorial board wrote on April 28 that Boehner’s characterization of Cruz was a “witless cheap shot.” The editors said the comments were “petty grudge-holding” and speculated that these “knee-jerk responses … though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals”:
We get it. John Boehner doesn’t like Ted Cruz. In a witless cheap shot, Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh” at an event at Stanford University. Boehner’s attitude is widespread among Republican insiders who are foolishly allowing personal ill will to cloud their reasoned judgment about who, among the candidates left in the GOP race, is the best representative of conservative principles and policies, and about who would be the best candidate in the upcoming general election.
[P]rominent conservatives who might not be counted among Cruz’s friends — Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush come to mind — have urged the party to rally around Cruz as the only reliable conservative left in the race.
They’re right to do so, and not to give in to the petty grudge-holding of John Boehner. In 2013, when Cruz was engineering his ill-fated government shutdown, his Republican critics, including us, warned against interpreting tactical disagreements as evidence of disagreements about objectives. We encouraged conservatives not to indulge in knee-jerk responses that, though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals. That argument works in both directions. Whatever his personal feelings, Boehner agrees with Cruz on most questions of principle and policy, and it’s a shame he can’t act accordingly. [National Review, 4/28/16]
Sean Hannity: “John Boehner, Shut Up … You Failed The Republican Party.” On the April 28 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity told Boehner to “shut up,” calling his performance as speaker “weak, timid, feckless, visionless.” Hannity asserted that Boehner “failed the Republican Party,” concluding, “We don’t need lectures from you”:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): All right, I’ve got to tell you something. I can't say this strongly enough. John Boehner, shut up. You know what? You gave us $4 trillion in debt. You were weak, timid, feckless, visionless. And I’ve got to be honest, you want to know why Cruz and Trump are doing so well? Look in the mirror, because you are afraid of your own shadow that you might get blamed for a government shutdown, so you wouldn't defund Obamacare, you wouldn’t use the power of the purse, you wouldn’t defund executive amnesty, which was -- which Republicans ran on in 2014. You failed the Republican Party. We don't need lectures from you against presidential candidates that are resonating with the American people, thank you very much. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/28/16]
Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter: Boehner “Today Just Demonstrated His Utter Contempt For” The People On The Right. During the April 28 edition of NRA News’ Cam & Company, conservative Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter said Boehner’s remarks “proved” that he was “a giant waste of air.” Schlichter concluded, “The people on the right are angry … at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them”:
CAM EDWARDS (HOST): How about that? “Lucifer in the flesh.” So, I saw that description today, and for whatever reason, Kurt, the phrase “Goldwater’s baby” came to mind --
KURT SCHLICHTER: Its eyes! Its eyes! What did you do to its eyes!
EDWARDS: I want somebody to use that as an insult this year, I just want to hear somebody call someone else “Goldwater’s baby.”
SCHLICHTER: Oh my gosh. You know, with Boehner, sometimes it's like, you know, we all knew it, and then it happens. This guy literally says he would vote for Hillary Clinton before one of the nominees by the other Republicans. This was our speaker. We were all saying you know, this guy is a giant waste of air, and then he comes out and just completely proves it.
SCHLICHTER: The people on the right are angry. They’re angry at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them. And they always knew it, and there were people saying, "No, no, no, he really doesn’t feel that way." And well I said, “You know, I kind of think he does.” And now he’s kind of proved it. I think people are justifiably angry. They’re not going to -- to quote Roger Daltrey, "won't be fooled again!" [NRA News, Cam & Company, 4/28/16]
Fox’s Laura Ingraham: “I Don’t Like That Comment By John Boehner. At All.” On the April 29 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group’s The Laura Ingraham Show, host Laura Ingraham decried Boehner’s comments as “not helpful.” Ingraham called Boehner and “establishment” Republicans “devils,” saying, “I have the idea it’s devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different”:
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): This John Boehner comment about Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh"? Not helpful. I said yesterday when I saw that this had been said that, I mean, John Boehner should just button it. It's not helpful. Now, you see, I have the idea it's devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different. I think that's very deceiving, as the devil is deceiving. Ted Cruz actually said he was going to run on some basic principles, and for the most part it seems like Ted Cruz actually, you know, tried to fulfill his Senate duties with those principles in mind. Now that's “Lucifer in the flesh”? What? It seems like the revolt against the establishment is making it pretty clear who people think the devils are. The devils are the people who say they’re going to oppose Obama only to fund his entire budget. The devils are the people who say they’re pro-life only to fund Planned Parenthood. The devils are the people who spend most of the good part of an entire year pushing Obama's Trade Promotion Authority. The devils are the people who say they’re going to get rid of Obamacare only to allow Obamacare to be funded. Those are the devils. The devils are the people who call the people the loud people, or make fun of them and say “it’s too hard,” like John Boehner did. So I don't like that comment by John Boehner. At All. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 4/29/16]
Conservative Radio Host Hugh Hewitt: “‘Despicable’ Is My Term For [Boehner’s] Attack On [Cruz].”
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) April 29, 2016
Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell: “Boehner Doesn’t Have The Guts To Apologize. He Is A World-Class Coward.”
Boehner doesn't have the guts to apologize. He is a world-class coward.
— Brent Bozell (@BrentBozell) April 29, 2016
The Blaze’s Dana Loesch: “John Boehner Gets Along With Every Beltway Elitist -- But Not The Average American. This Is Why He’s Out To Pasture.”
John Boehner gets along with every beltway elitist — but not the average American. This is why he’s out to pasture.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) April 29, 2016
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Fox News’ Sean Hannity is slated to interview Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on the April 25 edition of his show, for Trump’s reaction “to Kasich and Cruz teaming up against him” in upcoming primary elections. Hannity has received widespread criticism for his relationship with Donald Trump and has repeatedly admitted he gives “soft” interviews to Republican candidates.
Hannity has received widespread and bipartisan criticism for giving Trump a “friendly outlet” and treating him “in a way that’s gentle in order to get him to come back.” On April 11,ThinkProgress pointed out that Trump has appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show “an astonishing 41 times since he announced his campaign,” giving him a nearly yearlong platform to target GOP voters. Conservative website RedState claimed ThinkProgress' report showed that Hannity “has become, for all intents and purposes, part of Trump’s campaign apparatus.” On April 23, the Associated Press reported that Hannity had a “nasty spat” with Cruz “following criticism from both the left and right about his interviews with Donald Trump" (Hannity will also interview Cruz tonight).
After being criticized for being a “very soft interviewer,” Hannity defended himself by asserting, “I’m not a journalist, I’m a talk show host.” Hannity doubled down on his radio show, saying he’s not critical of Trump or Cruz because he wants the Republican nominee to win. He has also said he “absolutely plead[s] guilty” to “going soft in interviews on Republicans.”
Indeed, the neologism "Hannitize" was coined to describe efforts by conservatives "to clean up a messy situation with a softball interview, typically one conducted by Sean Hannity." Trump has frequently appeared on Hannity's program to receive positive treatment for his efforts to rebound from gaffes or scandals.
Economists Made Up 1 Percent Of Guests In The First Quarter Of 2016, While Shows Focused On Campaigns, Inequality
Expertise from economists was almost completely absent from television news coverage of the economy in the first quarter of 2016, which focused largely on the tax and economic policy platforms of this year’s presidential candidates. Coverage of economic inequality spiked during the period -- tying an all-time high -- driven in part by messaging from candidates on both sides of the aisle, but gender diversity in guests during economic news segments remained low.
Trump’s Support For State-Sponsored Anti-LGBT Laws Does Not Make Him LGBT Friendly
In a segment discussing North Carolina's discriminatory anti-LGBT "bathroom bill" legislation, NBC's Hallie Jackson claimed that Donald Trump "is considered one of the more LGBT-friendly Republican candidates." Jackson’s misleading description of Trump as LGBT friendly comes as the Republican front-runner attempts to re-brand himself as a more moderate candidate heading into the general election and ignores Trump’s long-standing position as an opponent of marriage equality.
While Jackson described Trump as “one of the more LGBT friendly Republican candidates,” a closer look finds his stance in line with supporters of the law. During an April 21 interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Trump said "local communities and states" should be able pass discriminatory legislation barring transgender people from using a bathroom associated with the gender they identify with. Trump’s stance that states should be allowed to pass these discriminatory laws is in line with North Carolina’s passing of the state-sponsored anti-LGBT law:
HALLIE JACKSON: Ted Cruz, in a new online video, taking aim at Donald Trump's criticism of a transgender bathroom ban in North Carolina.
TED CRUZ: This is not a reasonable debate over public policy. This is political correctness run amok.
JACKSON: Cruz, using Trump's comments to try to boost his own conservative credentials, while hitting his rivals with a new online polling showing 64 percent of Republicans support the ban. But some of Trump's backers aren't bothered by it.
JACKSON: A top Trump aide, dismissing Cruz's criticism, telling NBC News the senator is simply trying to stay relevant. Trump himself, not backing down.
DONALD TRUMP: Local communities and states should make the decision. And I feel very strongly about that.
JACKSON: While Trump is considered one of the more LGBT-friendly Republican candidates, he hasn't talked much about those issues on the campaign trail. Not a typical part of his stump speech, and not mentioned tonight at his rally here in Delaware.
Jackson's NBC Nightly News report ignores Trump's history of bigoted and extreme positions on LGBT issues, including his support for the anti-LGBT "First Amendment Defense Act," Trump's promise to "strongly consider" appointing Supreme Court justices to overturn its recent ruling in support of marriage equality, and his previous support for Kim Davis, a Kentucky County clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Furthermore, the NBC segment plays into comments made by Trump’s new campaign manager, Paul Manafort. During an April 21 meeting of Republican leaders, Manafort attempted to assure those assembled that Trump’s outrageous rhetoric was the candidate simply “projecting an image” and that “the image is going to change.”
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For Sexual Assault Awareness month, Media Matters looks back at right-wing media's history of downplaying, and questioning the legitimacy of, sexual assault. Right-wing media figures have called reporting statutory rape “whiny,” claimed sexual assault victims have a "coveted status," said the sexual assault epidemic is "not happening," blamed feminism for encouraging sexual assault, and said attempts to curb sexual assault constitute "a war happening on boys."
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Fox News Did Not Cover The Report After Frequently Dismissing Concerns Over Police Actions In Chicago
Cable news only devoted just over two minutes of coverage to findings of “systemic racism” in the Chicago Police Department after a Chicago task force released a “blistering” report. Although the report made the front page of The New York Times, MSNBC and CNN spent less than two minutes each on covering the report while Fox News -- which has regularly dismissed protests over police brutality and systemic racism in Chicago -- failed to cover the report at all.
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Hannity Claims He Gives Softball Interviews To All Republicans Because He Agrees With Them
Fox's Sean Hannity responded to criticism of his coverage of GOP front-runner Donald Trump by publishing data showing that he has dedicated more than over four hours of interviews to Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and more than 30 interviews to each on his Fox News show. Hannity also explained that his softball interviews were based on his agreement with the Republican vision, not a bias in favor of any one candidate.
In an April 11 piece, ThinkProgress pointed out that Trump has appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show “an astonishing 41 times since he announced his campaign, giving him a nearly yearlong platform to target GOP voters. Conservative website RedState claimed ThinkProgress' report showed that Hannity “has become, for all intents and purposes, part of Trump’s campaign apparatus.”
Hannity’s executive producer, Lynda McLaughlin published an April 14 blog on his website responding to both pieces by highlighting the amount of total airtime he has given the all the Republican candidates:
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 (limited to the last top 4 candidates):
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
In an accompanying video, Hannity defended his softball interviews with Donald Trump and other candidates, claiming that ThinkProgress and RedState cherry-picked his interviews. Later Hannity admitted that he would interview Hillary Clinton “a hundred times harder than any Republican, because I believe the Republicans represent, and have a far better vision, one that I agree with, I just have less disagreement with them,” concluding "I'm not a journalist, I'm a talk show host" (emphasis added):
SEAN HANNITY: Here's a website, ThinkProgress, remember they did the structural imbalance of talk radio so many years ago? And then they did this hit piece, "Hannity Interviewed Donald Trump 41 Times, And Never Made News," or something to that effect, which is just not true. And they picked some of the easier questions that I asked Donald Trump, which they could have done with any other candidate that I have interviewed. I'll be honest, I'm not sitting here -- If I'm interviewing Hillary Clinton, it's gonna be a hundred times harder than any Republican, because I believe the Republicans represent, and have a far better vision, one that I agree with, I just have less disagreement with them. I'm not a journalist, I'm a talk show host. I can't think of any question that has come up, that I have wanted to ask these candidates, that was relevant to ask these candidates, that I haven't asked them. I've asked them everything.
A Media Matters study found that in 2015, Hannity hosted 35 percent of all total interviews of Trump on Fox News. Hannity also gave Trump the vast majority of interviews compared to other GOP candidates in 2015 at 35 percent with over 8 hours of total airtime: