On his eponymous Fox News program last night, Sean Hannity found himself in a told-you-so position. The host dedicated multiple segments in 2014 and last week to documenting the spring break mayhem in Panama City Beach, Fla. Then came last weekend.
“Friday night, what we were warning, happened,” Hannity said last night. Seven people were wounded after an assailant opened fire at a party Friday night along the main drag of Panama City Beach. Via CNN: “Some of the young people were shot multiple times. They were taken to area hospitals, where three were listed in critical condition and three in stable condition, the sheriff’s office said. The seventh person was in surgery when the press release was issued and no update on his condition was provided.”
As previously noted in this space, the spotlight from “Hannity” on Panama City Beach’s spring break madness helped to force the city council to pass ordinances curtailing the booze-drenched celebrations. Last fall, the city curtailed closing hours at bars from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. and instituted an ID check for beach drinking. The influence of the Fox News program on local affairs, however, didn’t sit well with all local officials. Mayor Gayle Oberst, for example, predicted to the Erik Wemple Blog this month that the “Hannity” crew is “not getting interviews with any elected officials” for this year’s segments.
“Hannity” prevailed, however. On her swing through Panama City Beach, “Hannity” spring break correspondent Ainsley Earhardt interviewed Panama City Beach council member Josie Strange, who ripped the proceedings: “I’m not against spring break. Spring break is fine. But this spring break is not spring break. This is a — it’s — I can’t even liken it to anything.”
And that was before the gun violence. Strange and another council member, Keith Curry, appeared on “Hannity” last night to discuss how the city would respond to the shootings. Curry’s the one who told his colleagues in an emergency session on Saturday morning, “We have blood on our hands.” Yet his proposals to ban beach drinking and to pull back bar closing times to midnight failed to secure passage. The council did approve an additional $200,000 for increased police presence.
In his chat last night with Hannity, Curry acknowledged his “mistake” of failing to crack down on things sooner. Hannity commended him: “I credit you for seeing the light.”