The recent revelations that Hannity’s business dealings with Michael Cohen involved real estate ventures in low-income areas is a classic example of outrage being stirred up over nothing, and the media behind the attacks, once again, should take a good look in the mirror before they cast stones.
The Guardian, whose political leanings are quite opposite of Hannity’s, revealed the information in a now widely-circulated story. The major claim against Hannity is that he did not disclose this when covering Ben Carson and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the fact that he worked with Cohen just gives an aura of absolute shadiness to the whole deal.
Hannity defended himself with this statement:
It is ironic that I am being attacked for investing my personal money in communities that badly need such investment and in which, I am sure, those attacking me have not invested their money. The fact is, these are investments that I do not individually select, control, or know the details about; except that obviously I believe in putting my money to work in communities that otherwise struggle to receive such support.
I have never discussed with anybody at HUD the original loans that were obtained in the Obama years, nor the subsequent refinance of such loans, as they are a private matter. I had no role in, or responsibility for, any HUD involvement in any of these investments. I can say that every rigorous process and strict standard of improvement requirements were followed; all were met, fulfilled and inspected.
The LLC’s are REAL companies that spend real investment money on real properties.
The second paragraph here is important for two reasons.
First, he points out those deals were made during the Obama years – as in before Ben Carson was appointed to lead the department under President Donald Trump. That in itself deals a pretty heavy blow to claims that Hannity didn’t “properly disclose” this information with regard to Carson and the Department. He was under no obligation to because he didn’t make a deal with Carson’s agency.
The second reason that the paragraph is so important is that there is no actual scandal involving the purchase themselves. Everything, legally, appears on the up-and-up. Just because he used Cohen to broker those deals doesn’t make then automatically any less legitimate.
The key issue in this non-scandal is the issue of “disclosure,” which honestly makes very little sense. “Disclosure” in the media is a word we use when we find a possible conflict of interest that would prevent someone honestly and fairly reporting on something or someone. Hannity is neither a journalist nor is he contractually obligated to be “fair.” His show can make or break news, but he himself is not a reporter to be held to the same standards as a traditional reporter would be.
For that matter, it is incredibly easy to pick out a nice handful of disclosures or conflicts of interest in the media. When a sizable chunk of the Beltway media has worked for or made major donations to key Democratic politicians (including presidents) over the past few decades, the idea that Hannity of all people should be held to this standard most media could not fairly hold themselves to is not just absurd. It is insulting.
Let’s be perfectly clear: Hannity has done nothing wrong. Nothing illegal or unethical, nothing untoward or shady in this.
It is only his political ideology and, in particular, his loyalty toward Donald Trump that makes him a target when non-stories like this blow up. It is silly to think that he is somehow this unethical disgrace to journalism when those rules can’t and shouldn’t apply to a partisan talk show host – especially when the supposedly objective media can’t hold themselves to it.
When it comes to Sean Hannity, I readily admit that I will be the first to criticize whenever he says something I find absurd. This was long before Trump and it will probably continue long after Trump. Sometimes I criticize fairly, sometimes I can be too mean.
However, at the end of the day, Hannity is a human being and is entitled to a fair defense whenever there is a media assault launched against him on, at best, spurious grounds.