by Jonathan Gonzalez
Sean Hannity, anchor of Fox News’ Prime Time show “The Sean Hannity Show,” has been recently connected with Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen. The question on many people’s minds is if this relationship was known by Fox News, or did Hannity fail to provide such crucial information to his employers. For a news station that promotes itself as being fair and balanced, a relationship that directly links one of its prominent hosts to a Republican Party official opens a gateway of bias to be put forward in the news that he has reported.
As the news broke out of the professional relationship between Hannity and Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, Hannity immediately stated that he “never retained his services, I never received an invoice. I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees.” This statement from Hannity was baffling because if that were to be the case, then why was he named in federal court as a client of Cohen’s? He then went on to state that he “might have handed him ten bucks – ‘I definitely want attorney-client privilege on this’ – something like that.” So not only has he withheld information that would impede him from doing his job unbiasedly, but he has also lied to his viewers on national television as well.
As news of the revelation hit, many other news anchors put in their two cents of just how detrimental a relation such as Hannity and Cohen’s could be to their organization. CNN’s Host, Anderson Cooper, stated that “not disclosing a business or legal relationship with someone you reported on … doesn’t sound either fair or balanced.” USA Today found that “Another Fox News Pundit, Juan Williams, also took issue, suggesting on The Five that Hannity should have disclosed his connection with Cohen. Some of his fellow Fox anchors attempted to defend Hannity’s actions by saying things such as “Who he hires as a lawyer is nobody’s business” (Tucker Carlson).
For a news anchor reporting on a story that he has a personal investment in, it is much like an investigator who has tainted evidence in that all of their previous work will be open for review. Hannity’s reporting on the election as well as his reporting on the investigations that have been going on, have now become a problem for Fox News. Their employment of Hannity puts them under scrutiny as many feel that they should have stricter standards for the people they put on air, as they are the ones who are promoting the vision or philosophy of fox news. It is also because of issues like this one that long time Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters, a retired lieutenant colonel, left Fox news. Peters stated in a farewell note sent to his colleagues, that “In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”
A situation like this leads to more questions than answers. Ultimately, it is up to the viewers to determine if they would like to continue viewing a news anchor that has an active bias towards the news that he is reporting. Like with all news, if one only receives it from a single entity, then they are only being given a partial side of the story. For those that only received their news from “The Sean Hannity Show,” they are actively choosing to be blind.