hannity’s is not a journalist, as he himself has admitted. That he plays one on television, though, affords him the chance to have the best of both worlds in the same manner that his employer, Fox News, enjoys.

He can adopt the trappings of journalism when needed, like pushing back against a request for information from the Jan. 6 committee on the grounds that he’s an esteemed member of the Fourth Estate. But, since his show falls on Fox’s “opinion” side of the ledger — the subtlest of distinctions — he’s also free to simply advocate for Donald Trump and Trump’s allies as desired.

Again, I do not expect Hannity to interview Manafort in good faith. I am not naive; I recognize Hannity for who and what he is. It’s also possible that Manafort agreed to an interview only if some subjects were off-limits, but I very much doubt he even needed to raise that prospect. You don’t appear on Hannity’s show for an interview as a Trump ally and worry in advance about how harsh the experience will be.

Even with that standard set, though, the “interview” was an embarrassment that could only have made Fox News viewers less well-informed than if they hadn’t watched at all.

Hannity began with a false assertion about the Russia probe itself.

“You really — in many ways, you, Roger Stone, [George] Papadopoulos, General [Michael] Flynn and Carter Page, the president himself,” Hannity said, referring to various targets of the Russia investigation — “all of this stems from a false, phony narrative based on a false dossier and phony FISA warrants.”

Nope. Wrong. Obviously and immediately wrong.

Quickly: Papadopoulos was investigated after telling an Australian diplomat that he had heard that Russia had incriminating emails belonging to Hillary Clinton. He later admitted to lying to investigators about his interactions with a man apparently linked to Russian intelligence. Flynn was investigated after his conversations with Russia’s ambassador were collected by the National Security Agency. He later admitted to lying about those conversations. Stone was convicted by a jury on charges of lying to investigators and attempting to block testimony from another witness; his sentence was commuted by Trump.

The line about the dossier — a reference to reports collected by an investigator named Christopher Steele — really applies only to Carter Page, who served as an adviser to Trump’s campaign. He had been on investigators’ radar for years and traveled to Russia in July 2016, during the campaign. Shortly after he resigned from Trump’s team following public scrutiny of his interactions with Russia, the government obtained a warrant to surveil him based in part on that dossier. This has been retconned into being the genesis of the Russia probe overall, as Hannity suggests here. That’s obvious nonsense but taken as an article of faith on the right. hannity’s

Once he gained his position with the 2016 campaign, generously working for free, he quickly began trying to figure out how to leverage the gig to repair his relationship with an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Manafort participated in the well-known meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked attorney.

 

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