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The Importance of Sean Hannity

Here’s to Sean Hannity. Another 100 years and he can begin to think of semi-retiring.

Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity

So here is just one of the headlines on Fox News and talk radio host Sean Hannity from last week, this one from The New York Post:

Sean Hannity just broke this record held by Larry King

The story began:

Sean Hannity has claimed the title of longest-running primetime cable news host in television history, surpassing the late Larry King.

The Fox News host, who has been at the channel since its founding in 1996, has been a key cog in the network’s primetime programming for 25 years, six months, and 15 days, breaking the record held by King.”

Congratulations to Sean, for sure.

But in this corner I would suggest there is infinitely more to the importance of this story, so let’s go there.

The time: July, 1964.

Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater is about to be nominated for president at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco. This is big news. Why?

Well beside the fact that this was a man about to be nominated for president, this was big news because Goldwater is the GOP’s “Mr. Conservative.” After decades of the Eastern GOP Establishment nominating what are called today “RINOs” – “Republicans in Name Only” – there has finally been a conservative revolution inside the GOP in 1964, with Goldwater the very embodiment of that revolution, leading the way.

The media of the day, owned and operated lock, stock and barrel by liberals, is apoplectic at Goldwater’s rise. How does this affect their coverage of Goldwater? This way.

As Goldwater prepared to head to San Francisco to clinch the nomination over GOP Establishment favorite Governor William Scranton, a Pennsylvania moderate, CBS reporter Daniel Schorr beamed in to the massive CBS audience of anchor Walter Cronkite from, of all places, Munich, Germany. Schorr reported this:

“It looks as though Senator Goldwater, if nominated, will be starting his campaign here in Bavaria, center of Germany’s own right wing.”

Schorr went on:

“Goldwater has accepted an invitation to visit, immediately after the convention, Lieutenant General William Quinn, commander of the Seventh Army, at Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s onetime stamping ground but now an American Army recreational area.

In addition, I learned today, Goldwater has given his tentative agreement to speak next weekend at the annual roundtable of the Evangelical Academy at Tutzing, on Bavaria’s Lake Starnberg, where Chancellor Adenauer spoke last year.

It is now clear that Senator Goldwater’s interview with (the German magazine) Der Spiegel, with its hard line appealing to right-wing elements in Germany, was only the start of a move to link up with his opposite numbers in Germany….

Thus, there are signs that the American and German right wings are joining up, and the election campaign is taking on a news dimension.”

And oh yes. The New York Times also ran with a version of this story.

The story was false – from start to finish. In fact, once nominated, Goldwater went home to Arizona to rest up for the coming campaign.  He had never spoken to Der Spiegel. But the message of all of this directly from CBS and The Times -the heart of the media of the day –  was crystal clear:

The conservative Goldwater, about to be the GOP presidential nominee, was set to travel to Adolph Hitler’s old retreat, and he would speak at the “Evangelical Academy” – the latter presented as a breeding ground of neo-Nazism.

It was, in other words, a lie. A lie that deliberately painted Goldwater – an Army Air Force pilot in World War II who rose to become a Major General – as a Nazi sympathizer.

Now, move ahead 23 years.

It is another July day, July 1st of 1987. There is a new vacancy on the Supreme Court. President Reagan walks into the White House press briefing room and announces that he is nominating D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Bork to fill the vacant seat. Bork was one of the most distinguished legal minds in the country. He had been, successively, an associate at a blue-chip law firm and a law professor at Yale Law School. (Where Bork’s students included both Bill and Hillary Clinton and a small platoon of future liberal legal stars including New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, future Clarence Thomas antagonist Anita Hill and future California governor Jerry Brown.) He was a distinguished author on anti-trust law, and before his nomination to the DC Circuit had served as the Solicitor General of the United States. Robert Bork was not simply seriously well qualified for the Supreme Court he was a legal star.

And then.

At the time I was serving in the Reagan White House political office, where we were instantly tasked to help get  the Judge confirmed. With his incredible record this seemed at first to be a routine task. Supreme Court nominations at that point had been, as it were, yawners. With a couple exceptions in the Nixon era, they had usually been quiet hearings where lawyers discussed the arcana of American law and legal decisions that were guaranteed to put most observers to sleep.

This changed, suddenly and dramatically, when Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy stood up on the Senate floor to savage what he called “Robert Bork’s America”. Which was supposed to be an America  transformed by Bork. Bork was an “ideological extremist” who was both racist and sexist, favored driving women to back alley abortions and more. In other words, Bork was a serious, imminent threat to America.

The Reagan White House was stunned. Here was one of, if not THE, most respected legal minds in the country. We had thick briefing books of his legal decisions and writings, with not a word that indicated he was even close to the description Kennedy had of Bork. And Kennedy’s speech was only the beginning.

Bork, in his memoirs, wrote this of the media’s coverage of his nomination.

“The media varied, of course, but the reporting in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the three network news programs was almost unrelievedly hostile, as, of course, were the advertisements. The campaign was having its effect. The Center for Media and Public Affairs coded 232 TV news and Washington Post stories and found that of 381 judgments by sources 63 percent were negative and 37 percent positive, and that proportion was almost identical at each of the networks and the Post. Sources discussing my ideas ran four to one negative at the Post and six to one at the networks, with CBS well out in front, at eight to one. Throughout July, August, and September, TV news carried twenty-nine critical statements not one favorable statement.

It was not that so few defenders, or none, were available. Newspapers and television decide whom to ask and whose opinions to carry. According to a journalist, when a reporter wants to express his opinion in a news story, he goes to a source who agrees with him for a statement. In that way, a pretense of objectivity is maintained. The Center also analyzed the tag lines of the television network news stories, because bias is usually manifested there. It reported that my nomination held the record for bias among all issues whose reporting the Center had monitored: 100 percent negative on all three networks. I later heard that polls were much more favorable to me among people who had watched the entire hearings than among those who saw only the nightly news.”

So what do the Goldwater and Bork tales have to do with Sean Hannity, you ask? This.

Both Goldwater and Bork and their supporters in the day were effectively alone when it came to being targeted by the liberal media. The sole conservative outlet in the media in 1964 was William F. Buckley and his National Review magazine. By 1987 that had expanded to include R. Emmett Tyrrell’s The American Spectator magazine.

Had Sean Hannity been on Fox and talk radio in both cases – not to mention had Fox News itself and talk radio existed, along with now, Newsmax, One America News and yes, an Internet that is littered with conservative web sites – the Goldwater and Bork stories may well have ended differently This isn’t to say Goldwater would have been elected – but the election and the presence of an active, highly visible conservative media would surely have made the election closer. And, I suspect, had Hannity been on television and radio 4 hours a week in 1987 Robert Bork may indeed have been confirmed to the Supreme Court. As the Kavanaugh nomination illustrated exactly.

All of which underlines just why the anniversary of Sean’s record-setting years as a Fox host has been vital to America over the decades he has been on air.

Routinely he goes where the liberal media refuses to go. In the beginning, he would take on his late, great co-host, the decidedly liberal Alan Colmes, in debates. When on his own, whether he’s investigating the deep state shenanigans of the Trump haters in the federal government with serious journalists like John Solomon and Sara Carter, or exploring the “terror tunnels” dug underground by Hamas on the Gaza Strip or standing up for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, America and the world are in a different, far better place because Hannity is fearless about taking on the liberal media narratives of the day.

As the saying goes, one way to judge if Hannity is “over the target” are the volumes of attacks directed his way by left-wing media types. Whether online, on CNN or MSNBC, or simply in book form the attacks on Sean rain down on him personally and professionally. There have been repeated efforts to silence him, to bully his sponsors on Fox and his radio show.

And, thankfully, they have all failed. His audience has stuck with him, through thick and thin.

All of which is to say, that is exactly why Sean has been able to celebrate his new record as the “longest-running primetime cable news host in television history.”

So here’s to Sean Hannity. Another 100 years and he can begin to think of semi-retiring.