…and that’s not a good thing.
By: Ryan Nelson
*author’s note: this is an update of an article originally published on February 2, 2018, including revisions to reflect recent developments up to February 11, 2018*
“To know what’s going on in political news, watch CNN and MSNBC. To know what’s going to happen in political news, watch Fox.”
My own hyperbole aside, Sean Hannity has concocted a narrative that explains why the Russian Collusion Investigation by Robert Mueller is fraudulent and unfounded, while simultaneously re-imagining Hillary Clinton’s FBI email investigation to reflect a deep state bias.
Sean Hannity and Republicans are fabricating what I have termed a ‘mirror narrative’ (I coined this term on December 7, 2017) to the Russia Investigation into the Trump campaign and possible collusion with Russia. One of the identifiers of a mirror investigation is it’s reactionary nature to the true investigation the mirror story is trying to undermine. Because Sean Hannity is adding to his false narrative on the fly as news breaks weekly in the Russia Probe, he has no original accusations to hurl at Clinton and the FBI. Hannity can only make accusations against Hillary that mirror the accusations levied against Trump.
Most recently Sean Hannity has begun accusing Hillary Clinton and the FBI of being the real ones who colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 US Presidential Election. Why is Sean Hannity accusing Clinton and the FBI of the exact same thing Donald Trump is accused of? Couldn’t he have picked a more realistic accusation for Mrs. Clinton and the FBI?
We know why. The developments in Hannity’s counter-narrative have to match the developments in the Russia Investigation in salaciousness and severity. Hannity is bound by his own mirror narrative to build a bridge while crossing it, not knowing what will come next, only that his story must be just as riveting as the Russian Investigation.
One crux (there are many) of Mr. Hannity’s argument is that Hillary Clinton herself “bought and paid for” the now infamous Russia Dossier, which (according to Hannity) is a false document. However, if Mrs. Clinton did pay for the Dossier, and intended to use it as opposition research, then one thing is missing: Clinton using the Russian Dossier publicly during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Republicans in the US House of Representative and the Trump White House desperately need a spin on the Russia Collusion story that accomplishes two goals: (1) exonerate President Donald Trump of any wrongdoing in the Russia Investigations, and (2) pins the fault on someone, anyone other than the US President.
Enter Sean Hannity.
At this point, most of America knows who Sean Hannity is and what he represents, but to bring us up to speed, let’s look at a brief biography from Fox News’ own website. (http://www.foxnews.com/person/h/sean-hannity.html)
“Sean Hannity currently serves as host of FOX News Channel’s (FNC) Hannity (weekdays 9-10PM/ET). He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York. As one of the most prominent and influential conservative voices in the country, Hannity’s program offers a mix of news, commentary, guest interviews and branded segments such as #AskSean, where views have the opportunity to send in questions via Twitter”
His bio goes on to read: “Known for his provocative style and free-wheeling, passionate commentary on politics and the American agenda, Hannity has become one of the most popular radio personalities nationwide.” (*author’s note: any spelling or grammatical errors in Mr. Hannity’s biography are as they appear on the Fox News Website). Sean Hannity’s show, as of this writing (2/11/18) , is the number one news show on television. (http://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/scoreboard-thursday-february-1/356607)
Mr. Hannity is in reality a snake oil salesman who has been offering his solution to President Trump’s legal problems for months. Mr. Hannity has a rotating table of conspiracy theories that accomplish goals (1) and (2) .
According to Sean Hannity, Hillary Clinton was exonerated in her email probe by a corrupt and bias FBI in order to avoid the bad press for the 2016 Democratic candidate. This is an extraordinary simplification of Mr. Hannity’s narrative, but for the current discussion, it will suffice.
While the White House and the Republican Party scramble for a way to explain the current legal and political jeopardy the President is in, Sean Hannity was banging on the White House window yelling: “Guys! Guys! I’ve got the answer right here!”
Are the White House and Republican members of the House of Representatives taking their arguments from a cable news show? Let’s look at the timetable: Republicans in the House did not start questioning the validity of Mr. Mueller’s Collusion Investigation until after Hannity reported the same thing on his show. Every time there is a bombshell report about the Russia Investigation, Hannity reveals a bombshell report about Hillary Clinton and the FBI. Order of events, folks, order of events. First, Russia bombshell, then Hannity bombshell, then, the President tweets about Hannity’s bombshell.
Why don’t Sean Hannity’s news developments drop independently of Trump/Russia news? Mr. Hannity is promoting a mirror narrative to the Russian investigation, which conveniently accuses the FBI and Hillary Clinton of the exact same crime levied against Donald Trump.
Why accuse Mrs. Clinton of collusion with the Russians? Why not accuse her of something that could actually be true? The reason: the mirror narrative. According to a mirror narrative, you have to accuse the other side of the exact crimes your side is accused of. I don’t think Sean Hannity would ever admit to constructing a mirror narrative, but his actions and words reveal exactly what he is doing. (for a more complete definition of what I consider to be a mirror narrative, see my earlier post: https://wordpress.com/post/mrryannelson.wordpress.com/40)
One important puzzle piece of Sean Hannity and many Republicans’ argument is the Dossier compiled by Richard Steele, and ex-British agent and Russia expert, is completely false. Hannity contends that Hillary Clinton “bought and paid” for this fake document that is unverified, and used it to start the Russian Investigation.
*Truth alert: many aspects of the Dossier have been verified and even corroborated by events and actors. The Dossier as a whole is unverified in that there are claims in it that cannot be verified right now because the information has not been released to the public.*
I have one question for Sean Hannity. One question. If his (and President Trump’s) narrative is true, Why didn’t Hillary Clinton use the Russian Dossier in her campaign and afterward? If Hillary “bought and paid for” this piece of research about her political adversary, why did she not use it publicly during the 2016 presidential election?
Mr. Steele’s first memo (of 17 total) of the Dossier was delivered in June of 2016, leaving ample time for Hillary Clinton to use it in her campaign. The reason a candidate orders opposition research on their opponent is to reveal harmful information about them, thus making their opponent less desirable. This tactic only really works if the information is released and pushed by the candidate. When did Hillary ever comment on the Dossier during the campaign?
To understand whether Sean Hannity’s narrative is true or not, you have to look at his story with one question in mind: if this narrative is true, what are the implications? In other words, what also has to be true in order for Sean Hannity’s story to be real? When Hannity’s yarn is subjected to this smell test, it fails spectacularly.
If Hillary Clinton were in possession of, to be kind, the most damning piece of opposition research ever produced, why didn’t she use it?
The truth is Sean Hannity has control over what story he pushes on his show. He can say anything he wants. Hannity isn’t even bound by the legal and ethical rules of journalism. He does not refer to himself as a journalist. In the past, Sean Hannity has claimed to be a talk show host, and a commentator, but he has never accused himself of being a legitimate journalist. Now that I mention it, neither has anyone else.