To grind through the particulars, Hannity spoke with Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, who cited a New York Times scoop on the possible indictment and noted that McCabe had been fired for his “lack of candor” in interviews with investigators. “What matters here, according to former FBI agents, is that the bureau is held to a higher standard because they are the ones, Sean, that enforce the law,” Herridge said to Hannity.
Then came a moment of clashing cultures, in which Hannity sought to draw Herridge — a representative from Fox News’s “straight news” operation — into his mud pit of speculation and nonsense:
HANNITY: Well, Catherine, I’ll tell you one thing that I think is unfair. Didn’t McCabe tell Lieutenant General Flynn, a 33-year veteran, that he didn’t need a lawyer just before [James] Comey bragging about sending people in, that he would never do that in the Bush or the Obama administration, to take advantage of the chaos, knowing it was an interrogation?Wouldn’t that be — to me that sounds like Miranda right violations. That seems unfair if they knew it was investigation but I don’t want to drag you into the narrative, but that’ll happen, right?HERRIDGE: It’s all hopefully going to come up in the next few weeks.HANNITY: Well, they did brag about it. They did say to General Flynn you don’t need a lawyer and Comey did brag that he took advantage of the chaos, which he wouldn’t do in the Obama or Bush administrations.Great reporting as always. In Washington tonight, Catherine Herridge.HERRIDGE: Thanks for having me.
Bolding added to highlight a textbook example of how to parry the bias of Sean Hannity.
Alas, that particular expertise is now departing Fox News. Herridge will be jumping to CBS News as senior investigative correspondent, a position for which she will remain in Washington. “CBS News has always placed a premium on enterprise journalism and powerful investigations,” Herridge said in a news release issued by CBS News. “I feel privileged to join a team where facts and storytelling will always matter.”
As opposed to ... Fox News, where facts and storytelling don’t matter? We’ve requested an interview with Herridge to clarify that point, and others, but haven’t received a response.
The implications run in different directions for Fox News. The move marks the second departure from a straight-news journalist at Fox News this month: Shepard Smith revealed his unexpected departure from the No. 1 cable-news network in a broadcast on the afternoon of Oct. 11, a Friday. A message similar to Herridge’s prevailed: “Even in our currently polarized nation, it’s my hope that the facts will win the day. That the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive,” Smith said. Both Smith and Herridge worked at Fox News from the network’s 1996 founding.
That Herridge would land a plum job at CBS News — with its storied history and durable franchises — suggests that the non-opinion shows on Fox News retain some respect within mainstream media corridors. “Catherine Herridge is a skilled investigative correspondent who has consistently brought depth and originality to her reporting,” CBS News Washington bureau chief Christopher Isham said in a statement. “We are very excited that she will be joining the outstanding team at the Washington Bureau.”
Now that she’s at CBS News, Herridge won’t have to secure exclusives that delight the sensibilities of Hannity and Tucker Carlson. In November 2017 — a year after the presidential election that Hillary Clinton lost — she interviewed Charles McCullough, the former inspector general of the intelligence community, who loaded up Fox News viewers with a number of scary-sounding allegations about the Democratic nominee’s email practices. President Trump found them persuasive, as did Carlson: “This isn’t really a political story so much as a story about bad government, corruption.”
In September, Herridge helped Carlson toss cold water on a CNN report that U.S. officials had pulled an asset from Russia in part over concerns about Trump’s handling of classified information. The host blasted the rival network as follows: “Another bombshell from Jim Sciutto and the geniuses at CNN, just like the last 10 bombshells that are going to bring down" the president.
From there, Herridge took over, noting, “Well, Tucker, based on two decades covering the intelligence community, there is no harder decision for the CIA than pulling an Intelligence asset. It’s a long and deliberate process. And the final call is based on multiple factors, not a single event or individual.”
Thing is, CNN never reported that the call was based on a “single event or individual.”
More recently, Herridge participated in a group effort to soften public reaction to the release of the non-transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Again: None of this is to diminish Herridge’s Hannity-evasion skills. Another wonderful example comes from February, when Herridge told Hannity that in the summer of 2016, an official who later joined Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation received a briefing on Christopher Steele’s infamous dossier. Hannity connected that information to the Carter Page FISA timeline:
HANNITY: And that’s three months before it was used as the bulk of information for FISA.HERRIDGE: The data points really matter here.
The data points always matter.