The Hannity Case is so Serious it Requires a Consumer Boycott of his Advertisers

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The problems at Fox Cable “News” go way beyond Sean Hannity. But he is a major problem. For him to go on air and defend attorney Michael Cohen numerous times without so much as mentioning that Cohen is his legal adviser is the height of journalistic corruption.

Nor is it only Fox that hides the financial and personal interests of its celebrity commentators from the public.

In 2008, in a story that is unremembered and unheeded, The New York Times blew the whistle on a Pentagon scam to place ex-officers on CNN as Iraq War and security commentators, while never disclosing their ongoing ties to the US military or their ties to companies making money off the war. There is no reason at all to believe that CNN has cleaned up its act. Fox is guilty of the same sort of interlocking directorates strategy in “news” provision.

The information system in the United States is mostly broken. 24 hour cable news is just a pretext for earning advertising dollars and therefore mostly presents infotainment or cheap panel debates (mostly by partisans or people without any obvious credentials or special knowledge).

A handful of corporations own all of the major television news outlets. Even at the level of more trusted local stations, Sinclair has been buying them up and using onerous contracts with the anchors to force them into reciting pro-Trump propaganda.

Fox Cable News is a project of far rightwing Australian-origin billionaire Rupert Murdoch to push television news in the United States in the direction of white nationalism, white grievance, romanticism about the business class, defense of neocolonialism, and punitive attitudes toward workers and the dissident middle class. It has a firm editorial line, which is set in explicit memos to on screen presenters. Its stars have been serial sex abusers like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. Hannity has emerged as the last Great White Hope among the bullies of cable news, and that he is corrupt and dishonest should come as no surprise.

What to do about all this? Most of the people reading this don’t watch Fox anyway (and by the way there are some excellent reporters employed by this corporation and the local stations are often quite good).

The only thing that has been shown to work is a consumer boycott of advertisers. That is what got rid of the odious O’Reilly.

Note that I am not calling for a boycott of Hannity advertisers because I dislike him personally or because I disagree with his politics.

He has revealed himself to be corrupt and dishonest with his viewers on a basic level that should be unacceptable even in a generally corrupt company like Fox Cable News.

Of course, ideally, the Democratic Party would be planning for a reform of the FCC once it takes back over Congress. The poor things don’t seem to realize that the Reagan dissing of the Fairness Doctrine was one of the trucks that ran over the Democrats after 1981.

But in the short term, it is up to us. The lists I could find for advertisers on Hannity were old, from last year when people were disgusted by his support for that kooky right wing nutjob Judge Roy Moore.

[Update: A kind reader sent a current list of Fox advertisers].

This is different, because it speaks not to political views or values, about which we can disagree, but to professional ethics. No one should be on air who speaks about subjects on which they have personal interests, and who does not disclose them.

We must boycott.

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Bonus video:

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: “Sean Hannity Forgot To Mention Something…”

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Jimmy Kimmel Live: “Sean Hannity is Michael Cohen’s Mystery Client”

12 Responses

  1. A corner of the vast right wing conspiracy has been well-documented by Michael Cohen. Mischievous rich folks and naked propagandists will be exposed and hopefully, dealt with appropriately under the law.

  2. Can you imagine if Rachel Maddow was found to be using the same attorney as Barack Obama? The howls from the right-wing would be deafening. These people are hopelessly lacking in self-awareness or basic concepts of fairness, independence and objectivity.

  3. Let’s not forget good journalists/guests who appear or have appeared on cable. Richard Engel. And there are many who wish they had listened a little more attentively when Peter Bergen was talking about the man who declared war against the united states. A bit too confident to say Ds will take back Congress. They should, but many things can happen between now and then. Case can go up to Supreme Court fast and end the whole inquiry into dirty works of Trump et al. Possible Rs on court could find fine spun distinctions in Nixon precedent. These people will not go down without a very hard fight.

    • Taking the House really is too much to hope for. See: link to nakedcapitalism.com although gains may well be made. There is also a link there for some more traditional and easier to parse handicapping.

      Should the House fall, it won’t be by much, and there would be too many indies to represent a consolidated threat to the GOP agenda. Whatever happens there, they seem to be banking on holding the Senate, especially for the impact judicial appointments will have over generations. Note how young Gorsuch is. However incompetent Trump is on other areas, with appointments he is getting things done.

      It’s hard to factor out Trump’s personality when gauging his impact. But with the attempt, what you seem to find is how the GOP congress is running wild. What’s happening isn’t that much different than if someone more couth was in the White House. Not to say bringing about a nuclear war through spite or incompetence is small potatoes, but in terms of policy nothing would change if Pence were brought in.

    • PS:::: Here’s a breakdown of how D and GOP spending is being deployed for key House seats in November. The spending on both sides is about equal, but people living in these battleground districts can now begin to gird themselves and organize appropriately for what they will be facing.

  4. Too many of those newsies and entertainers have no understanding at all about their collusion, or appearance of collusion. They think a $300 round of golf, or an evening out, all paid for by the rich guy, is just a friendly gesture. They falsely assume that a free ride on a private or corporate jet is just what friends offer to each other… but in fact it is the buying and selling of everything American. Their behavior is despicable.

    • someone sent me this by email

      BOYCOTT SEAN HANNITY ADVERTISERS. Here are his main advertisers:

      AARP

      AT&T

      Chewy

      Cigna

      ExxonMobil

      Geico

      IBM

      Jenny Craig

      Jos A Bank

      LegalZoom

      Mitsubishi

      Round Table Pizza

      Sandals Resorts

      Trivago

      US Bank

      USAA Insurance

  5. Agreed Pence would be no better than Trump. Nor Ryan for that matter. They’ve already done much damage, and whatever happens in November, it will take decades to undo harm they already have done, through legislation but also through appointments to court. Pretty sad state of affairs, challenging the
    will to be optimistic.

  6. It seems like Dr. Cole has some nascent economic analysis in that exchange value, not use value is the most important aspect of the commodity for capitalist producers. This holds with capitalist production generally and the capitalist, corporate news in particular. I repeat that the capitalist, corporate media’s goal is not to provide information so that (working) people can make important decisions about their lives. It is to provide content that attracts the viewers their advertisers covet. And, all of this is just to profit. If people gain some information and understanding about the material forces shaping their lives, so be it. However, again, the supreme objective of the capitalist, corporate media is profit.

    • That capitalist system would work a whole lot better with a simple rule that is in place in most other countries: broadcasters aren’t allowed to lie. Fox tried to get a station in Canada: gave up when their lawyers told them you lose your license for lying on the air in Canada. Kicked out of Britain for the same reason.

      The supreme objective of the capitalist shouldn’t be permitted to include lying to make a buck.

      It’s that simple.

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