Sean Hannity was caught in the middle of controversy Monday when he was disclosed as the third client of President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who is in a heap of legal trouble himself.
At a court hearing that focused on his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels about her alleged affair with Trump, the judge demanded Cohen reveal his mystery client, who up until yesterday did not want to be named. And once the name was revealed, it sent shockwaves through much of the media.
The Fox News host attempted to defuse the situation by insisting that Cohen never represented him in any sort of legal battle, though he had previously sought legal advice, and by stressing that there was never a financial transaction between them. But no matter how he tries to distance himself from Cohen, their ties were strong enough for Cohen to list him among his three clients.
Hannity has every right to seek counsel from any attorney (he says he has eight lawyers representing him for various matters) and whatever was discussed between him and Cohen should be protected under attorney-client privilege unless criminality is involved. That being said, his failure to disclose his personal ties to Cohen, who has dominated the news cycle in recent months, was a complete lapse in judgment as a cable news host.
We all know Hannity isn’t an objective journalist. He himself acknowledges that. He’s an opinion host who is a staunch supporter of Trump and more recently, a vocal defender of Cohen. Yet, folks in the media are calling for his head because he wasn’t forthcoming about his relationship with Cohen.
Okay. If that’s the standard, why don’t we apply it to actual “objective” journalists?
CNN’s Jim Sciutto is the network’s chief national security correspondent who also serves as a fill-in anchor for Jake Tapper and Erin Burnett. He has quite the prominent role considering the fact that he’s a former Obama administration official. You can’t even find Obama’s name in Sciutto’s full bio on CNN’s website. Isn’t he obligated to tell his viewers that he had served in the previous presidency, which has its animus towards the current one?
Then there’s also the face of ABC News, George Stephanopoulos, who famously served as White House Communications Director for President Bill Clinton. But no one seems to think it’s a “conflict of interest” when he interviews people like Hillary Clinton or former FBI Director James Comey.
And we can’t forget all those reporters who were exposed aiding the Clinton campaign in John Podesta’s hacked emails during the 2016 election. Glenn Thrush, who at the time worked for Politico, sent Podesta drafts of Clinton puff pieces for him to approve and even referred to himself as a “hack.” And what happened to him? He got a better job at The New York Times. NYT reporter Mark Leibovich emailed Palmieri to ask permission about what portions of an interview with Hillary Clinton he could use. Was he ever suspended? No. CNBC’s John Harwood, who co-moderated a GOP primary debate, asked Podesta what sorts of questions he should ask Jeb Bush during an interview. Did anyone call for his firing? Of course not.
Two wrongs don’t make a right, but this double standard is overwhelming. Hannity makes his pro-Trump, pro-Cohen bias clear. Meanwhile, Jim Sciutto, George Stephanopoulos, Glenn Thrush, Mark Leibovich, and John Harwood pretend to be neutral players despite their ties to Democrats. If Hannity is going to face such scrutiny, so should these so-called “objective” journalists.