On Wednesday, Sean Hannity will host a town hall with Donald Trump at an African American church. Presumably, it’s another attempt at African American outreach by Trump. But in choosing Sean Hannity as host, a man with a long record of bigotry and race baiting, Trump has already shown the same contempt and disregard for “the blacks” that we have come to expect from him.
Even the description of the event is suspect: It’s billed as focusing on the “core issues and concerns surrounding African-Americans.” Not the issues and concerns of African Americans but surrounding them.
Maybe that’s how the Trump campaign justifies having Hannity host such an event. If anyone has concerns surrounding African Americans, it’s Hannity. The guy who has admitted, “I care deeply about race” has spent his career palling around with bigots.
Earlier in his broadcasting history, The Nation reported on Hannity’s chummy relationship with a white supremacist named Hal Turner.
"During an August 1998 episode of [Hannity’s radio] show, Turner reminded Hannity that were it not for the graciousness of the white man, 'black people would still be swinging on trees in Africa,' according to Daryle Jenkins, co-founder of the New Jersey-based antiracism group One People’s Project. Instead of rebuking Turner or cutting him off, Hannity continued to welcome his calls."
And FAIR has noted Hannity’s shocking defense of a white police officer accused of sodomizing Abner Louima, a black Haitian immigrant.
"The father of chief defendant Justin Volpe, an NYPD police officer, regularly appeared on [Hannity's radio] show during the 1999 trial. And Hannity and various guests repeated rumors that Louima’s injuries resulted from a 'gay sex act' and not from police brutality. Playing on the homosexual rumor and inconsistencies in Louima’s story, Hannity and his producer sang a parody of Lionel Richie’s song 'Three Times a Lady,' changing the words to 'you’re once, twice, three times a liar.' Hannity stopped referring to the victim as 'Lying Louima' only after Volpe confessed to sodomizing Louima with the help of another officer (OnePeoplesProject.com)."
On Fox News, Hannity’s race baiting and racial animosity are more measured but just as unmistakable. He was a big proponent of Trump’s bogus birther attacks on President Barack Obama in 2011. Even after Obama produced his long-form birth certificate, Hannity continued attacking him over it.
There are countless other examples that are just as damning. In 2008, the Hannity & Colmes show hosted Hannity’s buddy, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson for a discussion about a racially-charged primary in Memphis, Tennessee. Hannity refused to allow his other guest to rebut when Peterson said:
“Most blacks, not all but most in Tennessee, especially in the Memphis, Tennessee area, are still living in the 50’s and 60’s. They are so racist that they don’t even realize that white Americans have moved on. And so whenever there’s a campaign like this, such as this, they always use racism in order to intimidate white America.”
In late 2015, Hannity still considered Peterson a credible expert on race relations.
On Tuesday, there was another fatal shooting of an African American man by police, this time in Charlotte, North Carolina. Protests there have turned violent. Hannity has previously welcomed guests' incendiary racial attacks on Black Lives Matter activists. There's every reason to expect he will handle the issue at his town hall with the same lack of sensitivity and respect.
Trump’s long record of racism toward African Americans has been well documented. But Hannity is very much on the same page. In fact, during a 2011 Hannity show, right after Hannity accused the Congressional Black Caucus of doubling down on “insane rhetoric,” Trump picked right up on the race card and smeared the large majority of African Americans who voted for Obama:
"When Obama gets 95% of the black vote, is that racist? I mean, you know, does anybody ever mention that? He gets 95% of the vote and I see your compatriots, your announcers saying, ‘Yes, he got 95% of the black vote but this wasn’t a racial thing. They like his policy.’ It’s a lot of crap."
Hannity did not object to a word.
Trump has repeatedly bungled his so-called outreach to black voters, leaving many to conclude he only wants to look like he’s not a racist, so as to make himself more palatable to non-racist white voters. Teaming up with Hannity is just one more piece of evidence to bolster that argument.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect the growing protests in Charlotte, North Carolina.
UPDATE: This post originally left out attribution of the Hannity graphic. It's by Nina Brodsky.
By calling it a “Town Hall On African American Concerns”, we assumed that’s what it would address.
Instead, given the racial makeup of the crowd — which, BTW, met in Cleveland Heights, OH, a city whose population is 42% Black — it appears to have been more of a “Town Hall For Those Concerned About What African Americans Might Do” . . .
By putting on this show Sean and Trump are hoping it’ll convince the on the fence undecided white voter that he is making an effort to reach out, but was rejected. So he tried. Sean and Trump have no intentions other than helping themselves.
With all my love,
NOTE TO FOX “NEWS”
Pull Hannity from the townhall with Trump and replace him with Chris Wallace.