By Ben Cohen
Sean Hannity is waging war on the FBI over their negligence on the Parkland school massacre. Is it because he wants to get to the bottom of what went wrong when 19 year old Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month? Hannity and the likes of fellow Fox News contributor Michele Malkin would like you to believe so:
The Broward Sheriff's office & the school superintendent are trying to block the release of video from exterior video cameras from the #Parkland school shooting. Why? @MichelleMalkin explains that Americans deserve full transparency here. https://t.co/GnRQYgDYEp pic.twitter.com/cPReqAcOjG
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) March 1, 2018
More red flags… https://t.co/Er0GjWlSEm
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) February 27, 2018
This meme has also been propagated by the Commander in Chief himself, who took the FBI to task for failing to spot Cruz’s potential for mass murder:
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
Granted, there is legitimate reason to criticize the FBI and local law enforcement over their handling of the Parkland shooting before, during and after the event. There should be a thorough investigation into the intelligence failings regarding Cruz and the botched response by local law enforcement. But Sean Hannity and the rabid pro-Trump factions in the media have an ulterior motive here, and it has nothing to do with protecting school children from deadly massacres, and everything to do with protecting Donald Trump from the Russia investigation.
Sean Hannity takes his role as Donald Trump’s protector in chief incredibly seriously. He understands that the Mueller investigation has the potential to take Trump and everyone around him out, and he has orchestrated the mother of all smoke screens to distract the public from its findings. Hannity has gone to truly extraordinary lengths to create a completely alternate reality where up is down, left is right, and the Democrats are guilty of collusion with Russia and not Donald Trump.
In order to create this fictional universe, Hannity has entertained ludicrous conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, the DNC and shadowy FBI characters conspiring to murder Seth Rich and cover up the story. He has palled around with radical anarchists like Wikileaks boss Julian Assange in order to propagate these conspiracy theories and a general sense of paranoia about “the establishment” and “the deep state” that is out to get Trump. He has insisted that Trump is the victim of a vindictive government establishment run by Obama and Clinton loyalists bent on maintaining the status quo. He has spent hours smearing the FBI, a historically deeply conservative organization, for being biased against the president. Hannity sticks relentlessly to his message and will use any opportunity, no matter how awful, to defend Trump and discredit the rule of law.
This would all be highly amusing if a) Donald Trump wasn’t in power, and b) Sean Hannity didn’t have one of the most popular shows on cable news.
Trump is being protected by a gigantic bubble of ignorance that is maintained by radical elements of the American media system. Fox News, Breitbart and right wing talk radio are responsible for creating the bizarro reality that sits adjacent to the one anyone reading this lives in, and they will take it to truly frightening lengths to protect their man in office.
A profile in the New York Times of Sean Hannity perfectly illustrated the power he has at the helm of the conservative media complex:
To trace the arc of Hannity’s career is to appreciate how deftly he has leveraged two concurrent trends — the rightward tack of the Republican Party and the expanding influence of conservative media — to become power broker, spokesman and arbiter of the Republican base. “If I’m trying to figure out how to communicate to the American people,” Hannity’s longtime confidant Newt Gingrich told me, “there are very few people who have a better understanding of the broad base, a better intuitive understanding of the kind of folks who elected Trump. He at least matches or surpasses Rush [Limbaugh] in that understanding.”
When Hannity calls out Republicans for not being sufficiently pro Trump, it makes a difference. He is McCarthyite figure on the right, and he knows how much power he wields. The alternate universe he has created must be followed by other Republicans, who likely think he is as batshit crazy as Trump is — but they have to appease their Trump loving base, and Sean Hannity represents them more than anyone else. The Times profile of Hannity continued:
Hannity has launched ferocious assaults on Republicans he sees as insufficiently supportive of the president’s agenda, from Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, whom Hannity, echoing Trump, has called “weak.” Some of the blows have clearly landed. After the Republican senator Ben Sasse, a frequent Trump critic, suggested Trump’s disparagement of press freedom ran afoul of the First Amendment, Hannity said he regretted supporting Sasse. Sasse fired back vehemently on Twitter: “Sorry, Sean — you changed, not me. Some of us still believe in the Constitution.” In October, the former speaker of the House John Boehner told a reporter for Politico Magazine that he had a conversation with Hannity in 2015 in which he told Hannity that he was “nuts.” Hannity tweeted back at Boehner: “I’m sorry you are bitter and u failed!”….
Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief strategist for Trump, told me Hannity is “the single most important voice for the ‘deplorables,’ ” as Trump backers often style themselves. But to his critics, Hannity’s approach is at best dismaying and at worst emblematic of the corrosive, fact-free, “at-any-costs” partisanship that helped propel Donald Trump to power. “It’s dangerous stuff,” Katie Packer Beeson, Mitt Romney’s deputy campaign manager in 2012, told me. “And I do worry that it might be a while before the pendulum swings back the other way.”
The pendulum may well have swung the other way, but it hasn’t deterred Sean Hannity one bit. His latest attacks on the FBI help create a picture of a dysfunctional, biased organization that is in bed with gun hating liberals — a stunning turn around given his long history of supporting law enforcement. But Hannity has a mission, and that is to support Donald Trump, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his man in office. He thinks little of feeding the insane ‘false flag’ conspiracies floating around the internet that the FBI deliberately allowed Cruz to murder students at his former school because they want to take guns away from law abiding citizens. Hannity likely doesn’t believe this (even he isn’t that crazy), but he wants to give his audience the impression that it is a real possibility. Given those who tune in to watch Hannity’s insane ramblings on a daily basis aren’t exactly the sharpest tools in the box, it doesn’t take much insinuation for them to believe the worst about the FBI and their motivations.
It is hard to say what the net effect of all of this is, but it isn’t good, that’s for sure. The more deranged Hannity becomes, the further Trump’s base is removed from reality. It’s not like they started from a place of sanity either, but Hannity is marching them off of a cliff with no parachute at breakneck speed. Perhaps this strategy will work, but given the week Trump is having, he shouldn’t bank on it.
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