BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Jeffrey Joseph
Some of President Barack Obama’s comments have elicited surprise and selective outrage from members on FOX who have complained he had apparently shown too much emotion shortly after complaining he had not shown enough. Even so, few could have anticipated the response from Sean Hannity where he sought to find out if he now has the right to make physical threats against the president.
Hannity recently held a panel discussion on President Obama’s comment that he meets with so many people “because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose a** to kick.” Democratic strategist Steve Murphy defended the comment as appropriate and presidential since “the thing that he’s got going for him, more than anything, is the stature he projects.” Hannity, making clear that he still held a grudge against the president for suggesting he could send a supporter to debate Hannity and that the supporter would, in the the debate, “tear him up,” then asked if Hannity could now say, “We ought to send someone to kick Obama’s [beep].”
Clearly, Hannity meant the question as more than merely a hypothetical since he has a long history of carrying a strong distaste for the president and bothered to preface his retort by recalling the “tear him up” controversy of his own creation. Yet he would be wise not to presume he has a right to threaten to physically harm the president, if not for an innate respect for the position regardless of whomever holds it, then because such threats still qualify as illegal.
Hannity’s misconception of his significance as a staunchly conservative media personality relative to the president may be somewhat understandable. Though simply another member of the conservative media, Hannity still commands a breadth of influence large enough that Republican candidate Carly Fiorina felt the need to apologize directly to him after a hot microphone caught her deriding fellow Republican candidate Meg Whitman for agreeing to do his show. Fiorina has not yet given much apology for the confusing demon sheep ad she unleashed on her primary opponent, nor for playing up her executive position at HP though the company forced her out and stocks jumped at her departure, but Fiorina nonetheless apologized almost immediately to Hannity, perhaps inflating his sense of value on the pundit scene.
However, Hannity’s importance, even as a conservative commentator, may be overstated considering his political analysis leaves something to be desired. In reviewing last Tuesday’s primaries and some of the victories for candidates Palin chose to endorse, Hannity asked, “Is this the Palin effect?” Superficially, it appeared Hannity had too quickly jumped to credit his (openly politically active) FOX colleague, underscored by how Palin herself deflected credit in flatly saying, “It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with my endorsement, to tell you the truth.”
Why would Palin, who seeks to play up her media significance often, choose to credit political philosophy rather than her endorsement? It may have a little do with the shrewd analysis from David Weigel of the Washington Post. It turns out that Palin appeared to primarily endorse candidates after they had already obtained substantial leads on their competitors. In fact, though the candidates she endorsed either won or moved on, some of the outcomes came much closer than anticipated, suggesting Palin may well have diminished their results, not unlike how she hurt the McCain campaign in 2008. The Tuesday primaries may have shown a “Palin effect,” but not the kind Hannity hoped to gloat about on his show.
As a pundit who leaves viewers wanting in terms of deep analysis, Sean Hannity hardly serves as a worthwhile commentator, especially when he remains so obviously blinded by ideology on a “fair and balanced” network. Though he may have some aspiring politicians willing to kowtow to him, Hannity has no business trying to threaten the president, and in indicating his desire to do so, he only exacerbates the impression that he does not belong in the national discourse. Viewers should tell FOX that a serious news network would have no place for someone insinuating threats of violence against the president — and in the meantime, choose to Turn Off FOX.
Originally posted at Turn Off FOX.
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS