On Fox News’s “Hannity” last night, the show’s host faced down analysts Juan Williams and Michelle Malkin over stories in the New York Times regarding President Obama’s “kill list” and the cyberwarfare countermeasures taken against Iran’s nuclear program. Both of those stories are at the center of a D.C. political typhoon powered by allegations that the White House leaked information about the programs to make the president look tough.
So you got Obama plus national security, a testy combo for Fox News, as the following clash illustrates:
WILLIAMS: And reporters go and talk to officials, and that’s not classified. In a free society, we want to know what the government’s doing. We want to make decisions. Now, with regard to the stuff that Sean is talking about, when you look, for example, at the cyberwarfare effort, that’s a constantly evolving thing. It’s not been the case that nobody knows about it. Everybody has talked about it.
HANNITY: Juan, they gave us specific details.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
MALKIN: Pardon me.
WILLIAMS: They didn’t give them any classified information about it, Sean.
HANNITY: Sure, they did.
WILLIAMS: They simply discussed the fact that there is such an effort.
HANNITY: They talked about a secret program to undermine Iran’s nuclear program using cyberweapons. That’s what we’re discussing. That’s what he’s reporting on.
WILLIAMS: Sean, that’s why we discussed and reported in papers. What David Sanger did — and I think David did a great job — was to go to public officials, people who represent the American people [The Times’ Sanger wrote the story on cyberwarfare against Iran] —
HANNITY: They shouldn’t talk about — when you have people’s lives in jeopardy, Juan. . . . We will never get anybody to work with us because their lives will be put in jeopardy, if it means propping up this president or . . . fluffing his feathers.
Too much detail, Hannity says, in effect. That’s a defensible position for a senator to take. Or the president. Or a cabinet secretary.
Hannity, though, works for the Fox News Channel, an entity that has the word “news” in its title. The guy should be cheering for detail, unless he has indisputable information that these New York Times stories will result in direct, immediate and severe harm to U.S. national security. Which would make him a leakee.