Hannity’s ethics under fire

Sean Hannity is pictured. | Getty Images

Fox News host’s failure to disclose his relationship with Trump attorney Michael Cohen puts his credibility on the line.

Sean Hannity has wavered over the years on whether he is a journalist or conservative activist, but ethics specialists say that whichever hat the Fox News host was wearing last week when he condemned the FBI raid on attorney Michael Cohen’s office, he should have disclosed that he’s a client of Cohen’s.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a newspaper reporter or an opinion journalist,” said Indira Lakshmanan, the journalism ethics chair at the Poynter Institute. “If you want to maintain credibility with an audience, and be honest with them, you have to disclose all facts.”

Just hours after the raid on the office of Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Hannity inveighed that special counsel Robert Mueller had “declared war against the president of the United States.” But Hannity didn’t disclose that he, too, had received legal advice from Cohen. Hannity’s relationship with the embattled attorney was revealed during Monday’s hearing over materials gathered during the raid — and only after a judge pressed Cohen’s attorney on the identity of a previously unnamed third client.

The omission raised questions about whether Hannity had violated journalistic ethics — or whether he was a journalist at all.

Hannity has shifted in recent years on that point. “I never claimed to be a journalist,” Hannity told The New York Times in 2016 when asked about his informal advising of then-candidate Trump. The next year, Hannity referred to himself in a Times magazine profile as an “opinion journalist” or “advocacy journalist.” He said last month that his show “breaks news daily” in response to colleague Shep Smith characterizing Fox News’ prime-time lineup as entertainment.

Kathleen Bartzen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin, said you don’t “move out of the realm of ethics when we move into the realm of opinion.” She said commentators should still be expected to maintain independence from subjects they are covering and disclose relevant ties.

“This is not a small matter,” she said. “We’re talking about one of the most important new stories of this time and he did not disclose his connection to it while commenting on it. His audience deserves to know when he has connections that may be affecting that commentary.”

Bartzen Culver added: “An organization needs to have standards for the people who do its reporting or commenting.”

Hannity, the top-rated Fox News host and an especially influential voice in the Trump era, appears to have few constraints at the network. He immediately began discussing the Cohen situation on his afternoon radio show and tweeted responses to the controversy.

A Fox News spokesperson did not directly respond to a question about Hannity not disclosing his relationship to Cohen, but provided a statement from the host.

“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees,” Hannity said. “I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective. I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.”

On Twitter, Hannity disputed reporting by Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman that he brought in Cohen last year when facing an advertiser boycott spurred by progressive groups over his fueling of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. “What part of Michael and I never discussed anything that involved any third party is so hard to understand?” Hannity tweeted.

On Fox News’ “The Five,” Juan Williams said there was no evidence Cohen was involved in any third-party disputes on Hannity’s behalf, as was the case with Trump and Republican National Committee Deputy Finance Chair Elliott Broidy. Cohen arranged to pay $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels for her silence over an alleged affair with Trump and reportedly negotiated a $1.6 million payment to a former Playboy model who claimed Broidy impregnated her.

But Williams questioned why Hannity “didn’t disclose this earlier.”

“Why when Sean was on the air, strongly an advocate for President Trump, not saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got a relationship with the lawyer?’” Williams asked. “I think that’s a question.”


House Republicans Defeat Dems 13-9 To Restore Major Constitutional Right

Things are about to get even more interesting in Washington, D.C. And Liberals are beginning to panic.

There have long been rumblings that things just aren’t right in some of our nation’s most ‘sacred’ institutions, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice. But truly, just how ‘sacred’ are these two administrative forces?

Well, in recent months, it has become quite apparent that those rumblings of such things as abuse and political profiling are spot on. And the Obama swamp slugs that haven’t been drained from these two departments will have a good reason to flee now. And it’s all thanks to House Republicans.

From Breitbart:

The House Intelligence Committee voted Monday to release a classified memo to the public detailing alleged abuse by senior Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigations officials in their investigation of the Trump campaign.

The committee voted on a party line — all 13 Republicans for and all nine Democrats against, according to the Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA), who gave a press conference after the decision.

Schiff, who has never come across a camera that he didn’t sprint towards like an Olympic athlete, has been all over the airwaves pounding his chest and pontificating about how downright awful this development is.

The memo reportedly details — among other things — how senior officials abused FISA to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump foreign policy campaign adviser Carter Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Unfortunately for Schiff and his Leftist pals, he’s failed miserably in his latest attempt to demonstrate that obstructionism is the only tool he carries around in his tool belt. Which means that the House Republicans are ensuring that our 4th Amendment rights to warrants before search and seizure are still protected, despite what Democrats want to do with conservatives.

The memo reportedly will show that the senior DOJ and FBI officials did reveal to the secret court that grants FISA warrants that the dossier was a political document.

Democrats on the committee have drafted their own counter-memo and sought a vote to have it released to the public at the same time as the other memo.

The committee rejected releasing the Democratic memo to the public, but approved releasing it to House members, as was the procedure with the FISA memo. The committee could later vote to make that memo public as well.

While it’s no secret that Schiff has a tortured relationship with facts that don’t support his preferred narrative, don’t allow the wool to be pulled over your eyes.

The Democratic memo will go through the same exact process that the GOP memo just went through, and it too will see the light of day.

In reality, that’s not really necessary. The Democratic talking points are blared from the rooftops on a daily basis by the mainstream media, which has dissolved into nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Left.

You can be sure that we’ll see an immediate dismissal of the findings of the GOP memo with the patented snide remarks and mock indignation.

We’ll take that as further confirmation that the curtain is finally starting to be pulled back. And Democrats are in a big heap of trouble.

Source: Breitbart, patriotjournal.org