June 28, 2021

CNN's Brian Stelter delivers some words of warning on how dangerous the divisive rhetoric coming from Sean Hannity, and others at Fox and OANN has become. Stelter straight up called Hannity a "poisonous propagandist," and without saying as much, made a good case for why the network shouldn't be allowed to let the likes of Hannity and his cohorts pollute our airways at all.

STELTER: The major networks did not carry Donald Trump's Saturday night rally. Even Fox News ignored it. But Fox is serving the ex-president's agenda in lots of other ways. Reporters likened the rally to a revenge tour, and Fox sure knows revenge.

To understand why so many Republicans have abandoned democracy, to see why so many believe the big lie, to get why so many are trying to rewrite voting rules, you have to hear the poisonous propaganda that the GOP's activist base is listening to. You have to really hear it. It's coming more from Sean Hannity than from Trump right now.

So, that's what we did this week. We watched every episode of Sean Hannity's show and we color coded it, as you can see. We focused on his language, the insults and the phrases that he repeats every night.


On Hannity's show, President Biden is president sippy cup. Biden's a weak, frail, cognitive mess Hannity says. And the Democratic Party is portrayed as an existential threat. Hannity calls it the “Green New Deal Socialist party.” He labels some Dems “extremists.” He calls American cities “hell holes.” He sometimes calls them Democratic-run hell holes. And he says the media is the mob and are “stalkers.”

Just think on that for a minute. Fox claims to employ lots of reporters, but their prime-time star calls reporters “stalkers.” So the idea of the news media as a check and balance, as a form of accountability, flawed but essential.... no, no, no, on Hannity, the media is the enemy even though Fox is the media.

Here's my point. Don't get numb to this abusive language, because it is through these insults, it is through these attacks that Hannity yields power. This dark language is fundamentally authoritarian. It softens the ground for movements like Stop the Steal, you know, Trump's ploy to actually steal the election.

It portrays anyone who disagrees as not legitimate, as not American. It's not opinion, what Hannity does. You know what's been the Fox defense for decades right? “Opinion shows! We have opinion shows!” No.

Saying we should keep the 2017 tax cuts in place, that's an opinion. Let's expand universal pre-k! That's an opinion. Hannity is spouting something else. Hannity is spouting poison, denouncing democratic norms like a free press. That's poison, corroding the public discourse is poisonous.

And the Murdochs let it happen every day, and then it radicalizes people, people like Hannity's colleague Tucker Carlson who's out there calling the Joint Chiefs Chairman a stupid pig.

God bless the USA that we're allowed, that that's okay, that's normal, and yet there is nothing healthy and constructive about it. It's destructive. And the language just gets more and more vile, with a propagandist on One America News suggesting that Democrats could be killed for suggesting, for supposedly stealing the election.

So this is a big lie, on top of a big lie, on top of a big lie. Just listen to how coldly he talked about executions. […]

Then, of course, he tried to weasel out of what he said by saying he was just reporting the legal punishment for treason. Right, right.

Pro-Trump media is getting viewers comfortable with violence. That's really what's going on here.

These people live, eat, sleep and breathe the election fraud line and they want their followers to do the same. The level of rancor, resentment, all-out hate for fellow Americans just keeps intensifying.

Look at this, from the Gateway Pundit. The mainstream media on there is evil and Nancy Pelosi is a demon, and Dr. Anthony Fauci is the greatest mass killer of the 21st century. On his show like Hannity's reporters are stalkers and cities are hell holes.

And you listen to enough of this filth, and you stop recognizing your country, and you start living in fear, or disgust, and you might stop at nothing to save America.

That's what the signs at Trump's rallies say, “Save America,” but do they even know what they're trying to save anymore? Do they even know the real America?

Stelter followed up with an interview with author Adam Serwer, who reminded the audience at CNN that what we're seeing from Trump, who just has just been parroting what he watches on Fox to his MAGA cult, is nothing new in American politics, despite the fact that most Americans have a bad case of political amnesia when it comes to that topic, and that the the ideological forces Trump represents are much older than he is.

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