Media Matters For America put together a remarkable video of the two completely alternate universes going on at Fox News these days. One is presented by Sean Hannity -- a professional cheerleader for president Trump whose job it is to cover up whatever the president happens to be lying about that particular day. The other is presented by Shep Smith, an honest reporter who has quite clearly had enough of the bullshit coming out of the White House, and his own network.
Although it isn't clear what the timeline is for each of these segments, it is obvious Smith is aware of Hannity's ridiculous talking points and is providing specific counter arguments to each of them on his show. From debunking the supposed lack of evidence for Trump's collusion with Russia to the absurd notion that the FBI was spying on Trump, Smith coolly lays out the facts to dismantle the conspiracy theories being promoted by his colleague.
"Comey, and his buddies, and Strzok, to put the fix in to save Hillary's campaign," says Hannity in one clip. "Then they quickly started spying on the Trump campaign."
The video then switches to Smith, who lays out the actual facts.
"The FBI did not place a spy in the Trump campaign," says Smith matter of factly. "That's according to several Republican lawmakers, and all of the evidence seen by Fox News. No spy."
Then this on the fake Uranium One scandal:
Hannity: "Between 2009 and 2013, the chairman of Uranium One used his family foundation to make millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation before and after Hillary approved the sale of the company to Putin and Russia. And that's not all. Other Uranium investors, guess what, they also donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation."
Smith: "The accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale. She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale, the president approved the sale, the nuclear regulatory commission and others had to offer permits, and none of the uranium was exported for use by the US to Russia. That, is Uranium One."
That Fox News continues to pay Sean Hannity to spout obvious lies on a daily basis is a testament to their total lack of credibility as a news network, but to their credit, they do appear to tolerate Shep Smith's pretty withering dissent.
The starkly contrasting interpretations of reality must be extremely confusing for Fox News viewers given they are bombarded with innuendo and fact-free gibberish by the likes of Hannity on a daily basis. If you actually took Hannity seriously, you could honestly come away thinking there was real evidence for a vast, "Deep State" conspiracy against the president. Hannity speaks with such conviction that the average Fox News viewer probably believes there must be something to what he says.
Hannity selects some real facts then laces them with outright lies to create a semi-coherent narrative with dark conspiratorial undertones. It's not exactly clever, but Hannity's ability to lie with such a straight face makes him credible in the eyes of poorly educated, angry white people.
Hannity's persistence in keeping up this charade is quite remarkable -- he has staked his entire professional career on backing a lunatic president who has quite clearly betrayed his country and colluded with a foreign government. The facts are now so obvious in the Russiagate scandal that it requires inhuman level of cognitive dissonance to maintain that the president has done nothing wrong. Yet Hannity is still here, still banging on about Uranium One, the Clinton Foundation, and Obama's nonexistent wiretap.
Thankfully, Shep Smith is providing Fox viewers with a hard dose of reality. And while it may be extremely confusing for them, it is important that they at least have some sort of link to the real world.