The dangerous coronavirus misinformation spread by Sean Hannity and his colleagues has gotten a lot of attention this week, as has their sudden change of tune to acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic. Bullyboy Hannity is not taking it well.
NewsHounds, Crooks and Liars, Media Matters and others have been reporting on how Hannity and other Fox News figures have downplayed the public health crisis. Nothing exemplified Fox's politics-over-public-health mindset more than Trish Regan’s bonkers commentary in which she suggested the panic was the result of Democrats trying to impeach Donald Trump again.
But now, as even Donald Trump has had to acknowledge we’re experiencing a coronavirus crisis, Fox’s change of tune has come under an even brighter spotlight. Hannity’s tender fee fees were undoubtedly smarting after he was featured in The Washington Post’s devastating video (below) and – on the same day! - some mocking criticism from Erik Wemple.
Regan’s show has been taken off the air (after her viral monologue embarrassed Fox) but Hannity has been allowed to continue. It’s not just outsiders criticizing the misinformation on a life and death issue. Colleague Tucker Carlson took a thinly-veiled shot at Hannity and his like-minded lickspittles when he said, “People you trust, people you probably voted for, have spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem.”
Hannity might have gained credibility had he owned up to his wrongdoing and re-set his course. (Same for Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt, e.g.) But no, he’s threatening to sue.
Media Matters caught the threat on Hannity’s radio show today. After whining about Hillary Clinton’s emails, the FISA warrant regarding Carter Page, and the meanies criticizing him and his Bedtime BFF Donald Trump, Hannity said this:
HANNITY: Go to my web site, you lying — I need to hire Lin Wood and Charles Harder, and just make this a test case, of slander, besmirchment, character assassination. They get away with it. That's why — Nicholas Sandmann is not a public figure, he's absolutely going to be a billionaire at the end of this, after what they did to that poor kid.
This is your media mob, in the midst of a crisis. This is who they are. This defines them. And it's what we've gotten out of them for the last three years. So when you hear the word [grunts] "They're trying to turn this into another hoax conspiracy theory" That's what they're doing. That's what they've been doing. And they act like they're the most concerned, they're the most reliable. No, they're not.
(Hannity image via screen grab)
It’s unfortunate that Hannity is now trumpeting the nuisance suits filed on behalf of Nick Sandmann. CNN settled one for a pittance of a few thousand dollars to spare themselves the expense of going to court to defend themselves against the nonsensical claims of the Sandmann family. (This is typical for a big company’s response to gold-digging like these lawsuits – they settle for a tiny amount to make it go away quietly.) The Washington Post suit has mostly been dismissed but is being allowed to continue discovery to cement the dismissal. And NBC is unlikely to settle even for the pittance. So no, Nick Sandmann is not going to be a “billionaire”. He likely saw almost nothing from the CNN settlement as much of that would have gone to Lin Wood to cover his own costs. And Sandmann is no innocent victim. He behaved very badly in public and was caught on video doing so. The correct response for him and his friends is that he should have been harshly disciplined by his family, his school and his church. Instead, the family has shamefully chosen to try to monetize his notoriety. Having worked in litigation for years, I can attest that this approach is both pointless and fruitless for a plaintiff like the Sandmann family.
Regarding the constant nonsensical SLAPP suit threats by Hannity, by Devin Nunes, by Pence’s childish spokesman and even by Eric Bolling, that approach is frankly just an irritation. Reporting the truth is always a solid defense against claims like these, no matter how many empty threats Sean Hannity thinks he can get away with flinging. If he truly wants to mess with getting hit with a massive countersuit, he should file away right now.
And on that note, why hasn’t Eric Bolling piped up about that 50 million dollar lawsuit he threatened against Yashir Ali in 2017? The one where Ali had the temerity to report the facts about how Bolling was sexting lewd photos to his female co-workers, which led to Bolling’s firing from Fox News? The one where Bolling tried to personally extort 50 million dollars from Ali as a way of silencing him? The one where Ali hired an attorney on contingency to immediately warn Bolling to walk away or face the consequences? Why hasn’t Eric Bolling been discussing his tremendous success with a lawsuit that should have already gone to trial within the last year? Unless of course, Bolling listened to his own counsel in 2017 and quietly backed down…
“‘China has blood on its hands’: Fox News hosts join Trump in blame-shifting”
[cue the chirping crickets]