Sean Hannity and Grigori Rasputin share a couple of things in common. One thing is they both make vague predictions about the future that can never be proven true. The second thing is much more interesting. Looking at Mr. Rasputin’s predictions gives us, the current news consumers, the key to understanding how Mr. Hannity constructs his arguments to present on his television show.
Conspiracy Theories Connect Hannity and Rasputin
Sean Hannity and Grigori Rasputin have two things in common. They are both, by today’s standards, conspiracy theorists. Rasputin is a famous Russian ‘prophet and seer’ who lived in the late nineteenth century. A self-proclaimed mystic, Rasputin made a large number of vague predictions about the future that some people much later point to as confirmation that Rasputin did have ‘the gift’ of prophesy.
Mr. Hannity also makes vague predictions, but not about the future, about the past. Maybe ‘prediction’ is the wrong word. how about ‘postdiction’? To be clear, Mr. Hannity is trying to predict the future when he accuses Hillary Clinton. Part of his arguments during his show focus on what should happen in the future if people look at his reporting, then act on it. Hillary should go to jail. As of this date (2/18/18) Mrs. Clinton is not in jail.
This is what we call a conspiracy theory. Sean Hannity likes to examine events that happened in the past, such as his Hillary Clinton/Uranium One theory. Sean Hannity purports that Hillary Clinton (at the time as Secretary of State) worked with a Russian Company to give Russia access to United States uranium mines. No credible news agency or government entity has confirmed what Mr. Hannity alleges happened, but undeterred in his dogged pursuit of fringe facts, he continues to repeat his accusations ad nauseam . He doesn’t believe the official story as told by eyewitnesses or government filings.
One of Rasputin’s predictions gave us the key to understand how Sean Hannity builds the evidence of his arguments
One prediction Rasputin made that supposedly came true was written by his hand into his last will and testament. In the testament, Rasputin wrote that he would be killed “before Jan 1 (1917).” As it so happens, he was murdered on Dec 31, 1916. Amazing, right?
Also in the document, Rasputin predicted he would be murdered, and who his murderers would be. Reality check: yes, Gregori Rasputin could have been a seer of future events, or he could have been tipped off and knew who was planning to kill him and when.
The information in Rasputin’s last will and testament seems prophetic, if you only look at the part where he first predicts the (approximate) date of his death. When we see only that passage, it is easy to assume he could see the future. However, if we read between the lines of all his predictions in the will put together, we understand that Rasputin was more likely to have known who wanted to kill him and when.
Sean Hannity, President Trump, and now David Nunez do the same thing people did with Rasputin’s ‘prophesies.’ They take one line , one snippet, or a partial quote from a legitimate source and base their argument solely on that small piece of the bigger picture. Out of context, much?
The obvious current example of taking a single line from an official document out of context and turning it into the basis of an argument is the Republican Memo. It cites that in part, the Richard Steele Dossier was used to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page.
This assertion is true. Steelle’s Dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was used in part to obtain that FISA warrant. Wait, did I just write ‘in part’? Meaning the FBI had other evidence on Carter Page besides the ‘salacious and unverified’ dossier?
So Sean Hannity, David Nunes, and President Trump honed in on this small part of the FISA application, ignoring the larger picture that the Dossier only played a part in the FBI’s justification for asking for a warrant on Carter Page. What other evidence was used? What percentage of the FBI’s FISA application was based on the Dossier? 10%? 90%? We don’t know yet.
Sean Hannity will cite a part of an official document, usually one sentence or a quote, then proclaim that his position is vindicated by this snippet of the whole document. Taken as a whole, the document, in this example, the FBI’s application for a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page, does not support Hannity’s conclusions. In fact, taken as a whole, contradicts Hannity’s assertions. Even Mr. Nunes’ memo on the FISA warrant confirms that the Investigation into Russian Collusion was already chugging along when Mr. Carter entered into the FBI’s cross-hairs. What Mr. Hannity is citing, taken in narrow context, seems to support his argument. However, taken as a whole, the FISA application memo by Representative Nunes does not support Hannity’s argument.