There aren’t many things about Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump that bring a smile to anyone’s face, but Monday’s latest twist in the tale was an occasion for big grins, high-fives, and hearty guffaws. It turns out that Sean Hannity — who’s been turning beet-red every night with nonstop indignation over the Mueller-ordered FBI raid of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s office and living quarters — has a nice little conflict of interest going on. Cohen’s lawyer told a New York judge that Cohen has had three clients in the past year: Trump, Elliott Broidy (a Republican fundraiser engulfed in — of course! — scandal), and Sean Hannity, the linchpin of Fox News’s nightly pro-Trump, anti-Hillary programming schedule.
Hannity took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to say Cohen “never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees.” That tweet means either Cohen is lying, or Hannity is lying. I wouldn’t want to be the judge who’d have to decide that tricky one. I mean, who’s more reliable — a lawyer, or the guy Stephen Colbert described Monday night as “a reflexive propagandist for a corrupt machine”? Colbert joked about Hannity’s woes, then sat back in an armchair and drank some wine in celebration.
On his Fox News show Monday night, Hannity tried to spin the story as — what else? — a witch hunt by the “fake news media” that is, he says, “obsessed” with him. He said he’d offer his defense during the show — and then he waited 58 minutes, spending most of his show ridiculing James Comey’s book tour (and to be fair, there’s a lot to ridicule there). Then, in the final two minutes, his grand defense was … almost exactly the same words as his tweet.
What Hannity did not say was something Rachel Maddow revealed simply by reading aloud from the court transcripts to her MSNBC viewers on Monday: that Hannity requested that his identity as a Cohen client be kept secret from the public. If Hannity never had professional dealings with Cohen, why did he ask that his name not be revealed? Maddow’s fine, poker-faced reading of the proceedings begins around the 11-minute mark.
Maddow was notably restrained, given how bad this news is for her time-period competitor; Hannity is her only rival for primetime cable-news popularity. But Hannity’s self-proclaimed “pal” Jimmy Kimmel was not as restrained.
Folks, ask yourself this: Can you imagine what Fox News would be doing right now if it was revealed that, say, Barack Obama’s personal lawyer was also doing work for Maddow? Two things: 1. Tucker Carlson, Hannity, and the three-stooge Fox & Friends would be howling about it nonstop, and 2. My example is almost unimaginable. I mean, has anyone ever had occasion to even know who Obama’s personal lawyer is? Of course not — Obama wasn’t a compulsive tweeter who got himself mired in lawsuits.
It won’t matter much to Hannity’s audience that he’s been exposed as deceitful, but it gives reasonable people more ammunition against him. All schadenfreude aside, I am greatly encouraged by anything that brings disgrace and distrust to Hannity, because he’s not just a jabbering TV personality. He’s also one of the primary sources of the lies that are poured into the president’s head every day as Trump wastes his time watching TV — lies that end up affecting what the president says and does, and therefore lies that affect all our lives.
Hannity airs weeknights at 9 p.m. on Fox News.
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