Earlier this week, conservative media went crazy with a new conspiracy theory surrounding DNC staffer Seth Rich's mysterious death. They love to speculate about Rich, but this last one was the most evil yet.
It was also utterly false, but Sean Hannity ran with it anyway.
Just moments later, Hannity detailed a “massive breaking news story” -- “explosive developments” in last year’s “mysterious murder” of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. “If true, this could become one of the biggest scandals in American history,” the Fox host said of claims that Rich had been killed because he was the source of the stolen DNC documents acquired and released by Wikileaks.
But the story was not true -- it was vile, it was transparently false, and it collapsed at the first hint of skepticism, as several media accounts had already revealed before Hannity’s show aired. The Fox host had done exactly what he had falsely accused the mainstream media of doing.
This is Fox News at this moment in history -- desperate defenses of Trump that revolve around attacks on the rest of the press, interspersed with even more desperate efforts to change the subject and focus attention on some other liberal foe. Journalists for mainstream outlets continue to produce reports indicating that the nation stands on the precipice of a constitutional crisis. But Fox appears more committed than ever to convincing its viewers to voluntarily plug themselves back into the Matrix, where the Trump administration is actually going great, save for the vicious attacks by the president's enemies.
It was a completely vile, totally false conspiracy theory that must have been horrible for that young man's family to endure. So what does Sean Hannity do? He serves as one of the prime movers of the story. He didn't care what he did to Seth Rich's family. He gave not one second of thought to that. Which brings us to Tweet #1.
Fast forward to this morning, when news broke that Roger Ailes has departed this planet for his suite in hell.
That's not how it works. Roger Ailes earns every negative memorial he gets. He built an entire media empire out of grievance and fear, for the sole purpose of electing and protecting Republicans.
Sean Hannity had no problem at all trashing a young man's memory by constructing an elaborate conspiracy theory in order to keep viewers from learning the truth about Trump's crumbling presidency. And now he would like everyone to respect Ailes' family?
Yeah, not so much. I'm guessing they're better off free of him.
Extra: After I published this, I saw Matt Taibbi's lovely "eulogy."
Read the whole thing. Here's a taste:
We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we're that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.
Ailes was the Christopher Columbus of hate. When the former daytime TV executive and political strategist looked across the American continent, he saw money laying around in giant piles. He knew all that was needed to pick it up was a) the total abandonment of any sense of decency or civic duty in the news business, and b) the factory-like production of news stories that spoke to Americans' worst fantasies about each other.
Update: He went at it again! On the very night that he was eulogizing Ailes.