Fox News host Sean Hannity isn’t just shilling for Donald Trump. He’s not just orchestrating applause for the candidate’s most abhorrent policy positions. He’s not just facilitating and reciting every Trump talking point in marathon interviews. He’s not just providing logistical assistance with Trump’s vice-presidential search.
He’s also advising the candidate, as the New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg reports in his column this week. “So involved is Mr. Hannity that three separate denizens of the hall of mirrors that is Trump World told me they believed Mr. Hannity was behaving as if he wanted a role in a possible Trump administration — something he denied to me as laughable and contractually prohibitive in an interview on Friday,” writes Rutenberg.
Asked to defend the arrangement, Hannity relied on a mantra. “I never claimed to be a journalist,” he told Rutenberg, repeating the claim that always helps him out of these binds, at least with some people. The argument, such as it is, rests on Hannity’s spot in the opinion space of Fox News. As opposed to hard-news shows like “Special Report with Bret Baier” and much of the network’s daytime fare, Hannity works the other side of the editorial firewall, much the way newspapers divide up missions. As we’ve written before, Roger Ailes, the now-deposed boss of Fox News, cynically plundered that newspaper convention to license his opinion people to do whatever they pleased. For Hannity, that clearly means hitching his prime-time program to the Trump bus.
As for Hannity’s claim that he’s not a journalist or whatever, that’s fine — except for one complication that shows up on the lower left part of the screen during his show:
Green circle added to denote the fact that Fox News sells itself as news. Therewith comes some expectation of honest brokerage and ambient skepticism, an expectation that Hannity disappoints every night.