The Trump Presidency has been terrible for America and the world at large, but it hasn’t been without its upsides. Stephen Colbert is now the overall leader in late night. MSNBC is dominating cable news (it had its best week ever last week), and Rachel Maddow has emerged as a ratings juggernaut.
The Trump Presidency has also seen the ouster of Bill O’Reilly at Fox News, as well as its co-President Bill Shine. Ratings are falling fast for the network, as well. In the demo that matters, last week Fox News was in third place, behind MSNBC and CNN. Tucker Carlson’s ratings are off 30-40 percent from what Bill O’Reilly’s were, The Five is a ratings disappointment in prime time, and Sean Hannity — now the most recognizable personality remaining on Fox News — is also coming in third, getting beat by Lawrence O’Donnell, a man whose show is quite likely to be cancelled in June.
One thing that’s probably not helping Fox News is that, while the rest of the media is covering the Trump scandals, Fox News is downplaying them or ignoring, choosing instead to try and depict the probe into ties between Russia and Trump as a left-wing or Deep State conspiracy. That might work with its dwindling base, but it’s alienating independents and even those on the center-right.
Sean Hannity has become the chief peddler of right-wing conspiracies, but with little to work with, Hannity has decided to reach into the bowels of Reddit and 4Chan and forcefully push the repeatedly debunked Seth Rich conspiracy, a conspiracy that inflames the grief of Seth Rich’s family. It’s a sleazy, transparent attempt by Hannity to suggest that a low-level staffer at the DNC is responsible for the DNC hacks, rather than the Russians, as has been repeatedly asserted with a “high level of confidence” by the intelligence agencies.
There’s nothing to this Seth Rich story. No evidence. No facts. It’s complete bullshit, a weak and futile attempt to convince Congress to stop their investigation of Trump.
Hannity is running such shameless interference for Trump that he should just be jingling his keys on-air and yelling "HEY LOOK OVER HERE"— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) May 22, 2017
It’s appalling. It’s not true. It’s hurting the Rich family. And it’s backfiring on Sean Hannity, who is being called out even by those in his own network. From The Daily Beast:
“The other reporters I’ve talked to [about this] are similarly pissed about the whole thing,” another Fox reporter said. “Some find it embarrassing, others downright heartless [to spread this].”
“It’s just gross,” the reporter added.
Another news reporter said he is “befuddled” that the network hasn’t intervened to decisively put an end to Hannity’s incessant support for, and coverage of, this particular conspiracy theory.
Fox News has long prided itself on a supposed firewall between its “straight-news” reporting and its right-wing commentary side. Such a distinction often becomes the network’s line of defense when critics lambast anything its opinion hosts say on-air.
And yet, several of the network’s opinion pundits expressed disgust at the conspiracy theorizing, using words like “absurd” and “unhinged” to describe Hannity’s antics.
Not that this bothers Hannity, who — by the way — now considers Julian Assange a credible source.
Very interesting. My heart is not troubled in the least. Night all. https://t.co/MgOow2XVYu— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 23, 2017
Months and months of destroy Trump media "Russia" conspiracy theories, and HRC collusion and they IGNORE @JulianAssange message on "source"— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 23, 2017
It’s gotten so bad that the #SethRich crowd is now alleging that the Manchester bombing last night was an attempt to divert attention away from the Hannity conspiracy.
Fox News’ credibility was already shot with much of America, but this conspiracy is pulling the network even farther into deranged, depraved territory. The Murdoch sons have been trying to steer the network to the center for a long while now. As they continue to see ratings for the network erode, and Hannity go to bat for a President who is likely to be impeached, it might make sense to dramatically shake things up.
The first step in that direction would be to fire Sean Hannity. It won’t help the network’s credibility, but it may stop the ship from leaking.