Aug. 16, 2013 By Jack Jodell.
With this post, I begin an intermittent new feature. It will be devoted to those figures in mass media who have built their entire professional careers by skillfully telling one lie after another either to achieve ratings success or to fulfill some other devious end. To the average viewer or listener, they seem credible enough, and present themselves in most cases as average, believable media personalities with at least some degree of expertise in their field. At best, though, they are guilty of hyprtbolic sensationalism. At the very worst, they are guilty of blatant, deliberate acts of hyperpartisan distortion and outright lying. I will present; you will decide where each of these persons belongs om the scale of falsehoods. ALL, however, should be grouped under the catergory of Masters of Mass Deception, and their utterances should be taken by all rational, thinking people with a large grain of salt. l begin this series today with SEAN HANNITY of Fox “News”.
Sean Hannity was born to first-generation parents of Irish immigrants on December 30, 1961. He grew up in Franklin Square, New York and attended Catholic elementary, middle, and high schools before briefly attending, and shortly thereafter dropping out of, both New York University and Adelphi University. He never attained a degree of any sort in Journalism, and he has never been a professional reporter. Yet what he lacked in education, he more than made up for with cunning and an inherent self-marketing ability.
Hannity must have been a fairly good student in his earlier days, as he speaks rather articulately and has used this talent to amass a huge fortune from his mass media television and radio shows. Unlike Rush Limbaugh and other shock-jocks on right-wing dominated talk radio, he has not engaged in outrageous behavior to attract a following. Rather, similar to conservative predecessors Paul Harvey and current FOX TV host Bill O’Reilly, he has employed a smoother, man-next-door approach to achieve believability and trust with his audience. But make no mistake about it: he can also be smug, flippant, and even brutally callous with his remarks at times. And, of course, he cleverly often plays fast and loose with the facts if it serves his purpose, regardless of whether his “facts” are political, economic, or historical in derivation. An early example of this can be found in the way he maneuvered himself into radio. While working as a general contractor in Santa Barbara, CA. during 1989, he hosted his first talk radio show at the all-volunteer station KCSB-FM of the UC Santa Barbara. He mouthed off to one lesbian caller by saying “I feel sorry for your child.” After a mere 40 hours on the air, the station abruptly cancelled his show. He left and then began to opportunistically portray himself as “the most talked-about college radio host in America” in various radio publications. The untruthfulness of this claim didn’t matter to Hannity: he merely used it as a vehicle to launch himself into a profitable talk radio career – first in Athens, AL, and later at WGST in Atlanta, GA. Eventually, Hannity came under the scrutiny of the devious Roger Ailes of FOX “News”, and the rest is history. He embarked on a very long and successful stint at FOX and centered himself in New York City with his long-running and widely syndicated conservative talk radio show.
Hannity has been justifiably criticized for his inaccurate and/or biased reporting by a great many over the years, from Keith Olbermann to Thom Hartmann to even Media Matters, a watchdog group which monitors news reports for misinformation. In their book Common Ground, both liberal Bob Beckel and conservative Cal Thomas describe Hannity as one of those who is intensely “committed to a candidate, a culture, or an ideology that sets people in one group definitively apart from people in another, rival group.” Such polarizing, antisocial, and insensitive behavior is divisively inappropriate to all fair-minded people, and is revolting for even a political commentator.
Sean Hannity has devised a successful methodology for his broadcasts. One of his favorite tactics is to use out-of-context, partial quotes, invariably distoring the speaker’s true meaning in the process. He has done this repeatedly with polticians he opposes, from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton to Al Gore to Bill Clinton. Hannity, much like Glenn Beck, has succeeded in convincing millions of low-information voters that President Obama is suspicious and has a mysterious, secret agenda that is to be avoided at all costs, and that Obama has magically tricked millions of unsuspecting, ignorant voters into voting for him. Hannity’s arrogance lies in the insinuation that he supposedly has all the answers about Obama’s true intentions, and that the millions who voted against Obama’s opponents both times were supposedly duped. Being a very informed, very well read and very aware person myself, I greatly resent this smug insinuation coming from a mere lying, two-bit opportunistic commentator who plays fast and loose with fact. I have developed my own reservations about the Obama administration, but I have based them objectively on what he has done or has failed to do in office, not on my own subjective fears about what he might be up to!
Another of Hannity’s tactics is to cut people off and redirect them if they challenge him or his beliefs. To his credit, though, I have never seen him cut off one of his guests’ microphones the way O’Reilly has done.
Still another aggravating trait is the way that Hannity constantly presents huge factual errors – outright lies – as if they were the absolute truth. Just recently, for example, he stated quite incorrectly that if striking fast food workers at McDonald’s were to receive the livable $15 per hour wage they were requesting, “your Big Mac would cost you double what you are paying mow.” A recenly revised University of Kansas study (which I would trust far more than Hannity) concluded the price increase would be only $1.28. This is considerably less than the doubling Hannity described, but his lie reinforced an underlying fear of labor unions that some people still harbor today. Years ago, Hannity repeated over and over that Saddam Hussein had gassed “1.5 million of his own people”, which was completely ludictous. The actual figure was less than 10,000 – still a horrible total, but far, far less than 1.5 million! When the U.S. economy began to slide in early 2001, long before 9/11 and years ahead of 2008’s Great Recession, Hannity was chirping incessantly about how “we got (the weak economy) out of the Clinton-Gore recession.”This was insultingly transparent, owing to the FACT that the recession actually began in March of 2001, two full months after Clinton and Gore had left office! This, of course, was the expert conclusion of the National Bureau of Economic Research, hardly a bastion of liberalism. Hannity has been getting away with these lies for years and years, but he still keeps right on repeating them.
As such, Sean Hannity more than meets the requirements for being known as a Master of Mass Deception. I place absolutely no faith whatsoever in the validity of his arguments and conclusions, because they are nearly all based on false premises. If you value truth, don’t listen to this man and weigh VERY carefully his every spoken word!