In the months up to Donald Trump2016 election victory, Fox News host Sean Hannity used his massive media platform to openly help his “friend” defeat Hillary Clinton–– an approach he justified by insisting that he is not a journalist and should not adhere to journalistic ethics. “I make no secret of the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States,” Hannity said in August 2016, adding, “I have never claimed to be a journalist.” Earlier that year, the Fox News star admitted that if he were to interview Clinton, he would go after her “a hundred times harder than any Republican” because he is an overtly biased actor. “I’m not a journalist, I’m a talk show host,” he concluded.
But on Tuesday, Hannity’s lawyer Jay Sekulow insisted that Parliament’s select committee investigate the Capitol riot – which has released text messages Hannity sent to Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows––Treat his client like a journalist and offer him the same protection as members of the press are granted by the first amendment. “We are assessing the letter from the committee. We remain very concerned about the constitutional implications, especially with regard to the first amendment. ” wrote Sekulow. “We will respond as needed.” Sekulow mentioned separately to Axio’s “concerns about press freedom.”
The text messages in question, which were obtained as part of 9,000 pages of documents that Meadows handed in after being summoned, show how Hannity acted as a central external adviser to the former president during his last days in office. One week before the Capitol riot broke out, Hannity questioned Trump’s strategy of overthrowing the election, warning that it could result in mass announcements in the White House. “We can not lose all WH advice [sic] office. I do NOT see January 6 happening that way [Trump] being told, ”Hannity wrote in an exchange with Meadows. On the night of January 5, Hannity again texted Meadows, writing that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours”, while expressing concern over Trump’s attempts to press Mike Pence to intervene in the certification process of the election. On the afternoon of January 6, when violence broke out around the Capitol building, Hannity begged Meadows to try to put an end to the attack. “Can he speak out? Ask people to leave the Capitol,” he wrote. “Ask people to leave the Capitol peacefully.” Rep. Jim Jordan that Trump ”can not mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what’s left to do or say, and I do not like not knowing if it’s really understood. Ideas? ”
The chairman and vice-chairman have asked Hannity to cooperate with the investigation. “We have no doubt that you love our country and respect our Constitution,” wrote Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson and Vice President Rep. Liz Cheney. “Now is the time to step forward and serve the interests of your country.” On Tuesday night the edition of Hannity, the host lashed out at the “cowardly swamps” and the “media mob”, though he ultimately avoided the problem by not responding directly to the committee’s request. He also failed to address the role that his personal messages and advice to Trump have played in the January 6 investigation. Instead, he allowed his lawyer to speak for him, and Sekulow released his “First Amendment” statement shortly after the end of Hannity’s show.
When a Fox News spokesman was asked to comment on the committee’s request and Hannity’s lawyer referred to the first amendment Vanity Fair to Sekulow’s statement. The question of whether Hannity is a journalist and subject to any professional and ethical obligations that come with it has arisen before. While Hannity has both denied being a journalist and described herself as such – “I’m an advocacy journalist or an opinion journalist,” he said in 2017 –That Washington Post fought the following year for a direct response from his employer after the revelation of that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen also represented the Fox News host. At the time, a spokesman for the network would allow Hannity to be “an opinion talk show host.”
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