I just watched a CNN segment featuring Republican and Democratic panelists reacting with shock and astonishment over the news that Sean Hannity appeared on stage in support of President Trump during a campaign rally. That’s right, Sean Hannity is politically biased. I’ll wait for you to catch your breath.
“It was completely inappropriate,” sputtered panelist Tara Setmeyer about the rally. “They’re living in another world over there. It was like a college homecoming. They’re talking about, you know, owning the libs, and how the faces of the left-wing media, what we’re going to look like on Wednesday morning.”
We. On a panel discussing how shocking and appalling it is for media figures to openly involve themselves in partisan political agendas, a CNN staff political commentator said “we” when referring to the “left-wing media” Trump and his sycophants like Hannity attack. Leaving aside the impressive feat of social engineering which has allowed a warmongering, Wall Street-coddling corporate propaganda firm like CNN to refer to itself as “left-wing”, it is worth noting that Setmeyer said this, and that she said it because the staff of both Fox and CNN are acutely aware of their respective partisan biases.
Setmeyer is acknowledging that the bias is there, but essentially just arguing that it’s wrong to cross the line into blatantly acknowledging it. In effect, she is making the argument that it’s better for mass media firms to tacitly lie to their audiences by pretending to some extent that they are unbiased and impartial.
Mixed in with all the chatter about the US midterms is a cloud of outrage from the media class over Hannity’s supposed transgression.
“Still can’t get over Hannity denying he would be on stage the whole day, getting brought up by Trump, and then pointing to actual news reporters and calling them fake,” tweeted Maggie Haberman of the New York Times.
“Sean Hannity is now on stage at the Trump rally repeating Trump’s midterm campaign slogan, ‘Promises made, promises kept,'” tweeted NBC’s Christina Wilkie. “Hannity, earlier today: ‘To be clear, I will not be on stage campaigning with the President.'”
“Sean Hannity is to journalism what Donald Trump is to conservatism,” tweeted Hannity’s fellow Iraq war cheerleader Max Boot.
“It disturbs me to my core,” a senior Fox News employee told CNN Business. “I am so fucking mad.”
Another senior Fox News employee told CNN that “People throughout the company think a new line was crossed.”
“FOX News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” said a Fox News spokesperson in a statement. “We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight and we are extremely proud of their work. This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed.”
Everyone knows Hannity (& "Judge Jeanine") is a GOP servant, worships Trump & is devoted to their empowerment. Why force them to pretend otherwise? Let journalists & media figures be honest about who they are. Ending journalistic pretenses & costumes will help rebuild confidence: https://t.co/ujZahoAd0N
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 6, 2018
Fox’s statement was weird for a couple of reasons, one of them being that Sean Hannity has already campaigned for two Republican candidates this year. Fox’s Jeanine Pirro, who appeared with Hannity at the rally, has also been actively participating in paid campaign events.
And why shouldn’t they? Hannity and Pirro are both unscrupulous whores for the Republican Party and everyone knows it; the only difference is that they’re straightforward about it and don’t try to hide their servitude the way other pundits and reporters generally do. The world would be better off if all journalists and commentators stopped pretending to be impartial arbiters of objective reality and admitted that they are all biased and they all have an agenda. Every single one of them, without a single solitary exception.
All reporters have an agenda. For most, that agenda is to make money and become prestigious in a profession which puts them in touch with people who wield immense power. For others, the agenda is to bring truth to the masses, hold power to account, and/or help make the world a better place in some way. But in both cases there is an agenda, and in both cases their audiences should be made aware of that agenda.
My belief in this principle is the reason I wear my biases and agendas on my sleeve so openly. On the very rare occasions that anyone bothers to play Captain Obvious and accuse me of bias or pushing an agenda I just say, “Yeah, no shit.” I’m a hard left critic of US-centralized imperialism and I’d like to see the end of the western unelected power establishment before they get us all killed by war or ecocide; if I were to try and mask that in the illusion of impartiality I’d be deceiving and manipulating my readers.
I truly believe we’d all be much better off if everyone in news media did this, rather than trying to dishonestly present an illusion of impartiality that they’ve never actually had. People are able to inform themselves far more effectively of what’s going on when they are aware of the biases and agendas of the sources giving them the information.
But that of course is precisely why this doesn’t happen, and I suspect it’s the reason for the feigned outrage over Sean Hannity’s open bias as well. In order to effectively sell narratives about what’s going on in the world to the public, the mass media needs to also sell the illusion that the talking heads it puts forward are neutral, fair and balanced conveyors of objective fact. As the anonymous Fox News employee said, “a new line was crossed” when the network’s most popular face took a step toward shattering that illusion.
In reality, mass media pundits and reporters are hired by the billionaires who control the media based on their reliability in promoting a worldview which is beneficial to the status quo upon which those billionaires have built their plutocratic empires. If those pundits and reporters were straightforward about the fact that they are biased toward the imperial status quo because they know holding that bias is how they get and keep the best jobs, nobody would believe them when they tell us that we need to be afraid of a new Official Bad Guy or new group of people, or that it’s time for a new war, or that Julian Assange is bad and dangerous, or that it makes perfect sense to ignore third parties, or that America has a real government with real elections or what have you.
Impartiality has never existed in corporate media. The only reason some people pine for the days of yore when reporters were honest and spoke truth to power is because there was no internet back then, and narratives were therefore much easier to control by the media-owning class. Impartiality in the media is an imaginary unicorn believed in by children, so it’s actually to our benefit when these plutocratic cum dumpsters are honest about what they are. Hannity should be allowed to campaign for the plutocrat-owned president, MSNBC staff should be allowed to campaign for the plutocrat-owned Democrats, and Wolf Blitzer should have “BROUGHT TO YOU BY RAYTHEON” scrawled across his forehead in red lipstick.
Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. All news media must be consumed with an acute awareness that there are extremely powerful people who have a vested interest in manipulating the way you think, perceive, act, and vote; if this isn’t at the forefront of your consciousness, your worldview will be malformed.
All mass media lackeys are just as biased and malignant as Sean Hannity; the only difference between him and the others is that at least he’s honest about it. They’re not mad at him for being biased, they’re mad at him for blowing their cover.
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