The media gods rarely conspire to provide an experiment this pure: Fox News’s Sean Hannity is on record that the report will “shock the conscience.” Meanwhile, “mainstream media” outlets are on record stating that the same report will deliver an undramatic verdict.

Who will win this race to the truth?

Hannity and his ideological allies have had reason to expect that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz would deliver for them with his investigation on the origins of the Russia probe. After all, the same inspector general issued a bruising report following his peek into the activities of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, finding that he “lacked candor” in interviews with investigators — shorthand for lying.

In July, Hannity highlighted the importance of Horowitz’s upcoming report. “My message to the DOJ is very simple: We deserve to see the full report. After all, Mueller’s findings, they were released with extremely limited redactions. And we are expecting the same treatment for the Horowitz report, because the American people deserve the full truth, equal justice must be served. The sanctity of our republic is at stake.”

“Hannity” is nothing if not an exercise in mindless repetition, and so it has proved with hype about the Horowitz report. Later in July, Fox News commentator Gregg Jarrett said on Hannity’s show, “So, Comey and the other people I mentioned are in a world of trouble. I guarantee you that Horowitz, the inspector general, has the goods on them.” In August, Hannity paired the Horowitz report with a separate investigation into the Russia investigation headed by federal prosecutor John Durham, who was appointed by Attorney General William P. Barr. “I have high-level sources telling me tonight that by the time Durham is done with his job and the attorney general is done with his job and the investigation is complete, adding into at the Inspector General Horowitz, it will shock the conscience of a nation. That is a quote.”

And in November, the host said, “We have been asking for months. We are now told — I told you last week, my patience are pretty much shot and frayed but hopefully it will pay off. The long-delayed Horowitz FISA abuse support we are now hearing could be as early as one week from today. They are telling me, my sources, the findings, and it will shock the conscience. Time will tell.”

Yes, time is telling.

On Friday, the New York Times reported that the findings will not shock the conscience. Sure, reported Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage, Horowitz’s investigation turned up “errors and omissions in documents related to the wiretapping of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page,” as well as an email that was altered by a “low-level” attorney in seeking a renewal of the wiretap — a finding that has been referred to Durham’s team.

But: The report is expected “to absolve the top ranks of abusing their powers out of bias against President Trump, according to people briefed on a draft,” reports the Times.

The Post provided a nearly identical preview: “Horowitz will conclude that the application still had a proper legal and factual basis, and, more broadly, that FBI officials did not act improperly in opening the Russia investigation, according to the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive report.”

Should Hannity lose, he’ll be at zero wins and two losses in recent Justice Department IG predictions. Over the summer, he predicted that a Horowitz report would find that Comey exhibited a “lack of candor” in his discussions with agents about his famous memos of interactions with President Trump. That prediction was based on a report by John Solomon, who at the time wrote for the Hill. It was wrong: When Horowitz’s report came out in late August, it was critical of Comey but stopped short of accusing him of lying.

Not that Hannity would ever admit to exaggerating the pending Horowitz report. It’s said to be around 500 pages and contains some critical content. That’ll provide plenty of material for Hannity’s first-rate distortion machine. On Thursday night, for example, Hannity frothed over CNN’s breaking report about the low-level attorney altering an email in pursuit of the Page surveillance, even though the IG reportedly found that pursuit “valid.” “Now we start with this massive news: The deep state — I guarantee you this was leaked on purpose to get ahead of what is coming and that is a huge crisis,” Hannity said at the opening of the Thursday night broadcast. “Another blow to the Democrats’ impeachment charade: There is a report at this hour that an FBI official is now under criminal investigation for altering a document related to the surveillance of the Trump campaign adviser Carter Page,” said Hannity, who later averred: “These reports bearing out, well, that would be called FISA abuse. Exactly what we have been exposing on this show for a very, very long time.”

Bolding added to show that Hannity is dug in. Whatever the Horowitz report reveals, it must be shoehorned to align with the host’s freakouts.

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