Sean Hannity and Bob Woodward.
Of all the right-wing media’s big guns, Sean Hannity has always seemed the most obtuse and, to me, the least watchable.
With Rush Limbaugh you get to see an intelligent, even subtle, demagogic mind at work. Glenn Beck, in his day, was a marvel of wild whoopee, a rabid dog howling not only at the crescent moon over the Islamic Caliphate but at the Republican establishment. Bill O’Reilly is tough but agglomerated—watching him means catching occasional glints of independent thought, like on gun control or, tardy though it was, the Iraq War.
But Hannity, neither amusing nor original, is the most predictable of the apparatchiks, the hackiest of the hacks; he is, as Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) told him on his Fox News show on Tuesday, “a shill for the Republican Party.” The thick-headed Hannity didn’t contend the shill part, just the “party” part. “Sir, I’m a registered conservative,” he shot back at Ellison, and betrayed his working-class Everyman shtick with a Romneyesque offer: “You want to make a $10,000 bet?”
In fact, Hannity is such a Republican shill that the night before the election, he declared that Romney would win, and take Florida, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire in the process. And what did he get for his troubles? Fleeing audiences. The February Nielsens show that in the 25- to 54-year-old “money demo,” Hannity’s ratings dropped a stunning 35 percent from 2012 (O’Reilly’s fell 26 percent). All cable news numbers tend to sink after the highs of an election, but MSNBC shows fell by smaller percentages, while some on CNN actually increased.
Desperate to seem relevant again, Hannity has been trying his best recently to manufacture news. He had Representative Ellison, the only Muslim in the US House, on his show Tuesday, only to have him sit through a misleading, O Fortuna–themed montage of President Obama campaigning on the sequester, which led to a predictable blowout between the congressman and his smirking host. Ellison called Hannity "immoral" for his many lies and "the worst excuse for a journalist I've ever seen." It got Hannity's show on to the winger blogs, and the video went semi-viral. To keep those hits coming, ever since Hannity has been attacking Ellison's long-ago and since renounced "radical connections" to Louis Farrakhan, and asking, "Do we have somebody then in Congress that is the equivalent on one side what the Klan is?"