News Update

Analysis: How Sean Hannity and right-wing media personalities are using the Smollett verdict to attack the media

“CORRUPT LEFT-WING MEDIA MOB FUELED SMOLLETT’S LIES, IN JUST LATEST EXAMPLE OF EFFORTS TO PERPETUATE HOAXES.”
“RATHER THAN FOCUS ON REAL VIOLENCE IN CHICAGO, MEDIA MOB WASTED TIME PERPETUATING SMOLLETT HOAX.”
“SMOLLETT GUILTY VERDICT EXPOSES YET ANOTHER MEDIA-DRIVEN HOAX.”
Those were the chyrons on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Thursday night after a jury found Jussie Smollett guilty of falsely reporting a hate crime. Hannity, and other bad faith media personalities on the right, used Smollett’s conviction to (predictably) attack the news media and aim to delegitimize the credibility of the entire press.
The tactic is dishonest, yet simple: Take an actual act of deception, in this case one that was perpetrated by an actor and covered heavily by the press, and then use it to suggest that anything reported by mainstream sources cannot be trusted. Everything is a hoax.
Propagandists know that their power increases substantially when they can convince their audiences not to trust other sources of information. And so, Smollett’s case is very valuable to them. They can hold up Smollett’s guilty verdict and then attempt to extrapolate it onto other stories which are politically inconvenient for them.
This was on full display during Hannity’s program Thursday night. As he discussed the Smollett case, Hannity also brought up the “three-and-a-half-year Russia lie against Donald Trump” to claim the supposed dishonesty from the press “never ends.”
We are seeing similar attempts to frame the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol as a hoax fueled by the media and the Omicron variant is being depicted as a hoax invented by Democrats to supposedly steal the election.
Of course, the Russia probe, insurrection, and Covid are not examples of hoaxes. And propagandists such as Hannity don’t mention stories, such as the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, that they peddled to their audiences. But that is besides the point.
When you cannot argue on the facts, it is much easier to dismiss a story in its entirety and go after the credibility of the press for reporting on it. It’s the timeless play — one that played on repeat during the Trump administration — and one that is only growing more and more popular in right-wing media…

Inside the courthouse

CNN’s Omar Jimenez writes: “Inside the camera-free courtroom, a social distanced group of pre-credentialed media members silently typed away as the verdict was read. Downstairs in the courthouse lobby, it was a completely different world. Reporters and photographers from local and national media organizations crowded shoulder to shoulder into the roped off media location, many masked per courthouse rules, as key members of the trial took turns speaking at the microphones. First, special prosecutor Dan Webb and lastly Jussie Smollett defense attorney Nenye Uche. Smollett walked briskly by and out the exit as reporters yelled questions at him like, ‘Do you have any remorse?’ No response…”
>> As Reuters’ Brendan O’Brien noted here, “Smollett’s acting career declined after the incident.” It’s hard to fathom what he might do next…
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