I hope this finds you well and that you and your family are safe and healthy.
The election is at long last over. We have a new administration. Your guy is at home in Florida, having now been impeached twice, and is no doubt unwinding from a tumultuous two-month period following his defeat, a period defined by his aggressive efforts to undermine the results of the election and by spending nearly every day golfing. When he wasn’t attempting to incite a mob filled with white supremacists to take the Capitol, that is.
All this would suggest that you have some time on your hands. Assuming so, this is a good time to pose a few questions that only you can answer. And while I know that your time is limited — save for the many evenings when the president called you unscheduled in the midst of your broadcast and you challenged his numerous false claims and rambling, meandering discourse as only a true professional journalist would — I do hope you will take but a few minutes to share with our readers your beliefs about broadcast journalism. Because you do, indeed, anchor the highest rated cable news program currently on air and, as a result, are one of the most influential voices on television and, therefore, in the country.¹ Our readers will be so grateful.
- On the role of journalism. It is our long-held belief that a journalist’s role is to report news accurately. When did that change for you?
- On maintaining objectivity. Journalism requires objectivity and a certain ‘distance’ from news makers. Given that, how do you justify actively promoting the former president’s candidacy, where ‘actively promoting’ is defined as ‘being on stage with him and telling the audience that this is the guy to vote for’? And, of course, promoting his candidacy often on your program. Is your definition of ‘objectivity’ different? Or does it simply have no place in your concept of journalism?
- On the promotion of conspiracy theories. For weeks you actively and repeatedly championed baseless conspiracy theories about the presidential election. You used your celebrity — which is massive — and your position — which is powerful — to promote the idea that the election was rigged and that it was somehow stolen from your friend. Not one shred of evidence exists to support this. If so, produce it. The previous administration’s track record in legal suits to upend the election was a dismal 1–60, with many of these suits argued before judges appointed by the then-president. The Supreme Court rejected the administration’s suit without hearing it, due to an absolute dearth of evidence. Yet, night after night you railed about how “the socialist, radical left had stolen the election.” This led to violence at the Capitol on January 6. To what extent do you believe yourself responsible for the actions of the mob that day and the five people who died as a result? To what extent do your sponsors believe you responsible? (More on that later.)
- On the need to keep ratings high. Your guy is no longer in the White House. We expect that you will need to disparage the new president to maintain your ratings. How will you link President Biden to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and/or Hunter Biden to the 2012 attack in Benghazi? Will you use facts or rely heavily on innuendo? Or, as you did on air, will you claim after less than one day in office that the new president’s first week was “disastrous”?² That he is “weak, frail and cognitively challenged,” something you stated with conviction after his first day? When did you choose to ignore facts? Before or after discovering that your audience tends not to be terribly concerned with them? Or are you planning to run for office? The ex-president’s record of 30,573 lies and misleading statements³ can be broken, but only by a consummate professional. You just might be that guy.
- On the role of ‘fringe’ groups. To what extent do you need right wing fringe groups (e.g., QAnon, the Proud Boys, the Republican Party, other white supremacists) to maintain your ratings? How far into conspiracy theory mongering are you willing to go to keep them as viewers? This is especially important now, given that many right wing groups are moving to other networks (e.g., One America News Network), reporting that Fox News is not sufficiently pro-Trump. You know the old adage: create a beast and it will bite you hard.
- On selling fear. Now that the construction of the wall on our southern border has been halted, how soon will you begin reporting, with absolute conviction and no supporting data, about the caravans of drug dealers, rapists and murderers making their way from Central America through México to our country? As you and your friend the ex-president know too well: the fear of immigrant invasion sells.
- On your culpability. If millions of your viewers believe what you tell them, and some of those viewers attempt to capture by force state and Federal capitol buildings and, just possibly, kidnap elected officials, what responsibility do you believe you bear? Remember, the ‘radical left’ did not attempt to take the Capitol. Avid supporters of the ex-president did.
- Insurrection is not good for business. Now that the ex-president is losing business faster than I am losing my hair, how soon do you believe your sponsors and Fox News will turn on you? Remember, business is business and, just like your friend, you’re not good for it. Because nothing kills enthusiasm in the corporate world like being associated with the insurrection you helped inspire at the Capitol. Turns out sedition — or supporting those who attempt it — is not terribly popular among marketing executives. Just ask the pillow-hugging guy who owns MyPillow.⁴ And speaking of ratings, since the desecration of the Capitol, yours are taking a significant hit, especially among the prized 25–54 year old demographic.⁵ Your fall has begun. What actions will you take to stem your downward slide? More baseless hysteria? Depraved attacks on the new president? If you remain true to your style, your response will be creative, effective, and devoid of truth.
Thank you, Mr. Hannity, for getting back to us. We will publish your replies verbatim, unless it serves us better to alter them or change them entirely. Can’t allow data to get in the way of a good story, can we?
You’ve taught us well. Truth is overrated.
The Monday Minute (or two)