From the May 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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In recent months, Sean Hannity has repeatedly handed the reins of his national radio show to Dan Bongino, an active congressional candidate. During his guest hosting stints, Bongino used the prominent platform to promote his political views, send listeners to his campaign website and Facebook page, and encourage people to watch a campaign ad.
Bongino is a former Secret Service agent who left duty in 2011 to run for Senate in Maryland. The fact that he left the presidential detail during Obama's first term in order to run as a Republican immediately endeared Bongino to conservative radio and Fox News, though he drew criticism from his former Secret Service colleagues. After losing his 2012 Senate election by roughly 30 points, Bongino announced in June 2013 that he planned to run for Congress in Maryland's 6th district against Democratic Rep. John Delaney.
Bongino's campaign has since gotten a big publicity boost from conservative media outlets like Fox News, which has hosted him several times over the past twelve months. He's also been endorsed by Fox employees like Allen West and Sarah Palin. But perhaps his biggest ally has been Sean Hannity.
The media relationship between the two dates back to Bongino's 2012 run. In a Facebook post promoting an appearance on The Sean Hannity Show shortly before that year's election, Bongino wrote that Hannity had been a "good friend and great supporter to the campaign."
Since announcing his congressional bid last June, Bongino has been invited to guest host Hannity's three-hour national radio program at least five times (on August 22, November 27, December 23, February 20, and May 5). Bongino officially filed to run on February 21, 2014.
While he mostly avoided directly discussing his active congressional race, during Bongino's two most recent hosting gigs he railed against Democrats and touted conservative principles, both of which are naturally themes of his campaign.
Bongino also used the hosting opportunities to direct listeners to his campaign's Facebook page and his official campaign website.
For example, hosting the show on May 5, Bongino told listeners to "go to my Facebook page, give us a Like." Bongino's Facebook page is identified as the "Official page of Dan Bongino for Congress. Paid for by Citizens for Bongino," his campaign committee. Bongino asked listeners to "give me your comments on our ad." The same day, Bongino's campaign had released its first TV ad of the election cycle.
Talking to a show producer while on-air, Bongino asked, "you liked it, right? You thought it was good? Different, right?" She responded, "I loved the ad. It gave me chills." Bongino explained, "I like to do things a little different, kind of an outside the box operator here. But, yeah, give me a comment on it. I'd love to get your opinion. I promise, you haven't seen anything like it before."
From the May 2 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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From the April 28 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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The conservative media figures who lionized racist Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy made a feeble attempt at saving face by claiming this entire saga was never about Bundy, it was always about "land grabs" that are depriving hard-working Americans of their property rights. Yet some of these same figures have turned a blind eye to the actual land grabs taking place across the heartland of America at the hands of fossil fuel interests and the Republican state legislators that have supported their cause.
Fox News abandoned the rancher, and some of his most vocal cheerleaders in right-wing media distanced themselves from his racist remarks, while remaining loyal to his cause. "The ranch standoff," remarked Fox News host Sean Hannity, "was not about a man named Cliven Bundy." Instead, he argued, it was about average Americans being "victimized by eminent domain."
Bundy's standoff had nothing whatsoever to do with eminent domain, as he did not own the land that he was grazing his cattle on without payment. But the oil and gas industry, wielding the power of state eminent domain statutes, has actually snatched away land from ranchers in middle America.
If we take Hannity at his word that he believes himself to be the champion of average Americans whose homes have been threatened by land grabs, then one would imagine he's used his prominent public profile to help folks like Julia Trigg Crawford, a north Texas property owner whose land was unceremoniously stripped away from her control by TransCanada, the oil company pushing for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Despite Crawford's objections, TransCanada went forward with the construction and subsequent operation of the southern portions of the pipeline on her property thanks to a Texas statute that "grants eminent domain authority to pipeline companies that simply check a box on a one-page form." Her case is currently in court.
One would also imagine that Hannity has championed the cause of Raymond Hill, who had part of his land seized after he refused TransCanada's offers to buy his part of his land in east Texas because he wanted to preserve the peace and quiet his property offered. Crawford and Hill are just two of dozens of landowners in Texas whose property has been seized by TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline.
Instead, Hannity and others in right-wing media have been highlighting another bogus dispute in Texas over federal land that has been settled law for decades -- trying to frame it as the Bureau of Land Management trampling the rights of law-abiding Americans.
After right-wing folk hero Cliven Bundy was caught on camera delivering a racist tirade, Media Matters looks back at the conservative media figures who propelled him into the national spotlight.
From the April 24 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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Radio host and Fox personality Sean Hannity hosted TruthRevolt.com founder David Horowitz to engage in an unimpeded rant that described President Obama as a "menace to American security" and accused Democrats and the "American left" of pushing the nation toward a modern day Holocaust. Hannity's promotion of the extreme figure may have completed his transition from conservative mouth piece to right-wing fringe promoter.
On the April 22 edition of his radio show, Hannity discussed the alleged growth of anti-Semitism around the world, comparing the phenomenon with Obama's purported support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hannity asked his guests, Horowitz and writer Joel Rosenberg, whether anti-Semitism in recent news stories had the potential of turning into a "modern day Holocaust." Horowitz replied (emphasis added):
HOROWITZ: I think that's exactly accurate. There's normal anti-Semitism which has been going on for thousands of years. And this Kansas City shooter, I mean he's a Klu Klux Klaner, he's a Democrat -- lifelong Democrat, Klu Klux Klan racist and anti-Semite. But he's obviously been encouraged. The irony of course is that he killed three Christians. Um, obviously encouraged by the American left. Max Blumenthal, who is the misbegotten son of Sidney Blumenthal who worked for the Clintons in the Clinton White House, has written a book filled with Jew hatred about Israel, which this guy read and cited as one of his inspirations. I actually pointed this out in a book I wrote about ten years ago. The alliance between the American left and the Islamo - I don't call them Islamo-Fascists anymore, they're Nazis. They preach the same doctrine that the Nazis did, they were allied with the Nazis during the second World War. The destruction of Israel, which is welcomed by you know, like I say normal anti-Semites. But after the Second World War, there was a certain intolerance towards these types of attitudes thanks to the American left which goes right into the White House. Obama is also responsible for this - attacking Israel.
After Rosenberg disagreed with Horowitz' claim of the growth of anti-Semitism in the American left, Horowitz retorted, "On the campuses across this country the American left is calling for the destruction of Israel. How can you say there's no anti-Semitism? The American left is the fountainhead of anti-Semitism now," concluding that it is only a matter of time before the left commits violence against Jews.
Fox News' Sean Hannity is increasingly -- and dangerously -- taking on the role of PR agent for a Nevada rancher defying the federal government with violent threats.
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has quickly become a darling of right-wing media over his decades-long refusal to pay federal government fees required to allow his cattle to exploit public lands. In July 2013, a federal court ordered the rancher to remove his cattle from the public property or they would be confiscated and sold to pay off the $1 million in fees and trespassing fines Bundy owes. When that confiscation began this month, the rancher took his battle to conservative media, who held him up as a folk hero battling big government invasion into private property rights and states' rights.
Bundy's defiance has been marked by violent and revolutionary rhetoric toward the federal government, hints of a bloody confrontation cheered on by the right-wing fringes who have repeatedly compared the situation to notorious and deadly standoffs like Ruby Ridge and Waco. For example, when Bundy appeared on his radio program, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones posited that if Bundy's supporters confronted federal agents at the auction for Bundy's confiscated cattle, which the rancher encouraged, it "could be how the shot heard round the world happens in this case." Jones warned that "this could turn into 1776 very quickly."
But such dangerous hyperbole isn't confined to the fringes. Increasingly, Sean Hannity's promotion and defense of the rancher's actions and threats is starting to resemble that of far-right extremists.
Hannity interviewed Bundy on his Fox program on April 9, sympathizing with the rancher's claims and arguing that allowing Bundy's cattle to graze on public lands "keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer."
His rhetoric had noticeably escalated two days later when he invited Bundy onto his radio program The Sean Hannity Show. Hannity argued that federal agents have "drawn the wrong line in the sand here," praising Bundy because he "like[s] anybody that's willing to fight."
Conservative media have rallied behind Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a political activist known for her toxic anti-Islam rhetoric after Brandeis University cancelled plans to grant her an honorary degree. Right-wing media have painted Hirsi Ali as a champion for women's rights, but instead appear to use her views on gender as a rhetorical gateway to attack the religion of Islam and highlight Hirsi Ali's view that Islam is a religion of violence and a "cult of death."
On April 8, Brandeis University announced that it would reverse course in awarding an honorary degree to Hirsi Ali, a visiting fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) known for her critical views of Islam. The New York Times reported that while Brandeis has invited Hirsi Ali to speak, it could not "overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with" its values, labeling her past statements as the reason it revoked the degree.
Since the announcement, conservative media figures have rushed to defend Hirsi Ali, some using her life experience to explain away her Islamophobic comments. Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol called the move an "example of a war on women" and argued that the university had "caved to Muslim thugs." Fox News' Sean Hannity said the university's decision was an "example of left-wing appeasement." On April 10, Fox contributor Monica Crowley asked, "Where are the moderate Muslims? Where are people who, like Ali, have left the faith and are willing to courageously speak about it? And yet when somebody does show the guts and gets out there to do it, this is how they're treated?"
But Hirsi Ali is not moderate in her views of Islam -- once referring to the religion as "a destructive nihilistic cult of death" in a 2007 interview with The London Evening Standard. The New York Times reports that Hirsi Ali has also "advocated the closing of Islamic schools in the West and said that 'violence is inherent in Islam' and that 'Islam is the new fascism'." In a 2007 Reason interview, she also called for Islam to be militarily crushed and suggested the Constitution should be amended to permit oppression of U.S. Muslims.
Hirsi Ali has similarly used her position at AEI to push for antagonistic relations between the U.S. and Muslim-majority countries, even criticizing President Obama for not "associating Islam with extremism." In a 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed, How to Win the Clash of Civilizations, Hirsi Ali highlighted her views that Islam "is at war with America" and wrote that Western civilization "needs to be actively defended" against Islam.
Although Hirsi Ali has been an outspoken advocate for women's rights, her narrative that violence and misogyny are inherent to the religion of Islam is problematic, but it is also what has recently propelled her into the conservative media spotlight. Right-wing outlets such as Fox have been notorious for amplifying Islamophobic voices in an effort to spread fear that Muslims are 'taking over,' while pushing the idea that Islam is adverse to Western values.
Conservative media have greatly enabled anti-Islam propaganda, and have had a significant role in propagating the belief that Islam is a violent religion and is therefore something the United States must fight against. On April 9, Fox host Andrea Tantaros exemplified this when she defended Hirsi Ali by arguing "we are" at war with radical Islam because "they are going to kill us, as the Qur'an states according to Bernard Lewis and many other scholars, they're going to kill us, Sean, until we are all Muslims or ruled by Muslims."
Fox and other conservative voices such as Pamela Geller, Zuhdi Jasser, and the National Review use figures like Hirsi Ali to boost their own anti-Islamic positions as legitimate, giving them cover to continue spreading anti-Muslim hate. Conservative media's rush to uphold Hirsi Ali's story is therefore much more a defense of their own Islamophobic narratives than of Hirsi Ali herself.
Violence against women in any form is a serious issue in many societies, and to limit the discussion by portraying it as a problem specific to the Muslim community, while dehumanizing an entire faith, is irresponsible, inimical to the cause of women's rights, and it is Islamophobic.
As Evelyn Alsultany, author of Arabs And Muslims in the Media and associate professor at the University of Michigan, told Media Matters, Hirsi Ali "has not promoted any kind of true understanding of Islam, but has provided justification for the public and the government to perpetuate racism." Alsultanty explains further:
While she has brought attention to oppression that some Muslim women face, she has done so by simplistically blaming Islam. As a result, she has powerfully contributed to naturalizing the idea that Islam in and of itself is the enemy of democracy and civilization. This idea has serious consequences. It has led to Muslims in the West facing a spectrum of experiences, from hostile questions about their faith to hate crimes. It has provided justification for the U.S. to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, that has negatively impacted the lives of Muslim women through war.
Communications director to the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Ibrahim Hooper similarly pointed out that Hirsi Ali's rhetoric hijacks legitimate issues and "demonizes Islam." As Alsultany concludes, "we need to find a way to discuss a serious problem -- violence against women in a way that does not present the problem as exclusive to Muslim women."
On the final day of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, right-wing media have resorted to echoing Republicans and accusing the White House of "cooking the books" on the latest enrollment figures.
From the March 26 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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Right-wing media personalities continued their tradition of attacking President Obama for filling out NCAA college basketball brackets, this time attacking Obama for filling it out while Russia annexed Crimea.
From the March 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
From the March 5 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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