On Tuesday night, Sean Hannity brought Donald Trump Jr. onto his show to explain the emergent scandal over his meeting with a Russian lawyer—a meeting that his emails prove he attended despite being told that the information offered by the lawyer had been provided by the Russian government. The news has pushed some conservatives skeptical about Russiagate into admitting that there now exists evidence supporting the notion that the Trump campaign attempted to collude with the Russian government. Hannity is not one of those conservatives. “Democrats, the mainstream media are now hysterical over the story,” he said in a monologue before his interview. He proceeded to offer a list of other stories he argued the mainstream media should be hysterical about and report on instead.
Democratic Collusion with Ukraine
Back in January the Politico [sic]—hardly members of the right-wing conspiracy, published this explosive report: ‘Ukranian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire.’ Now the report there lays out how a DNC operative and Ukranian government officials tried to aid and assist Hillary Clinton and damage Donald Trump.
It’s true that there was a Ukrainian effort to disseminate opposition research about Paul Manafort’s political work in the country to people working in the DNC, including Democratic operative Alexandra Chalupa, who met with officials at the Ukrainian embassy and tried, evidently at the DNC’s behest, to meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. But the Politico piece doesn’t shed much light on to what extent people in the Clinton campaign were involved with getting information from those officials. The piece says that Chalupa had “occasionally” shared her own research on Trump’s ties to Russia with the Clinton campaign, but that was evidently before she began meeting with officials at the embassy, including the Ukranian ambassador, in March 2016. Hannity intentionally jumbles this chronology in his monologue, quoting the part of the Politico piece saying Chalupa shared information with the Clinton campaign after describing her interactions with Ukrainian officials. A political operative at the embassy, Andrii Telizhenko, is quoted in the piece as saying that the embassy was “coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa,” but further details on the extent of “the Hillary team’s” connection to Chalupa aren’t provided. The story does raise questions about the DNC and perhaps the Clinton campaign’s willingness to work with a foreign power, but Tuesday’s revelations prove, definitively after months of denials, that the Trump campaign was told about an effort by a hostile government to aid in Trump’s election and was willing to accept their help. The two stories simply aren’t equivocal. In any case, the Ukraine allegations were covered Tuesday here at Slate as well as at Newsweek, the Atlantic, and other outlets.
An Obama Grant to Defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
And if you’re interested, really interested, in election interference, why didn’t you care that a Congressional investigation found in 2014 an Israeli political group used a $300,000 Obama State Department grant to create a political apparatus to try to defeat our ally, our friend the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
PolitiFact rated claims that the group OneVoice had used State Department funding to attempt the defeat of Netanyahu “Mostly False.” OneVoice is a nonprofit advocating for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It was granted funds by the State Department in 2013 that OneVoice claims had been spent by November 2014. In January 2015, it partnered with a group called V15 that did run voter mobilization efforts for center-left candidates opposed to Netanyahu. But there’s no proof that State Department funds ever went to V15 and certainly no proof that it was the intention of the State Department to unseat Netanyahu. OneVoice and V15, contrary to Hannity’s assertions, were covered in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, and USA Today among other outlets.
A Meeting With the Chinese Ambassador and the Clinton Campaign
Or how about the Wikileaks email that shows a Clinton campaign aide talking about how a Chinese ambassador wanted to have a private, off-the-record meeting?
You can read the email here. There’s no evidence that the meeting—ostensibly about U.S.-China affairs, not about campaign assistance—even happened.
The Clinton Emails
Well, let’s talk about real crimes that have been committed that you in the media so often ignore. Hillary Clinton? Let’s see. We know she destroyed and mishandled top-secret, special access programs, classified government information.
As you may recall, the mainstream press did run a story or two about Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Clinton Selling Uranium to the Russians
Or what about a real Russian collusion conspiracy? That’s the Uranium One deal. Remember as Secretary State Hillary Clinton—she signed off on giving up to 20 percent of America’s uranium to Vladimir Putin and the Russians. And all those people in the deal? They kicked back over $100 million dollars.
Clinton’s State Department was one of the agencies in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that signed off on the Uranium One deal, which did give Russia the right to 20 percent of the United States’ uranium extraction capacity, although Russia isn’t allowed to export what it mines. Obama officials told reporters looking into the story that CFIUS approvals within the State Department weren’t brought to the secretary of state. The $100 million Hannity refers to seems to be part of donations to the Clinton Foundation two years before the deal and before Clinton went to the State Department. This story was reported in detail by the New York Times, the Washington Post, PolitiFact and other mainstream outlets.
The Clinton Foundation and Human Rights
And let’s not forget the Clinton Foundation—they took millions of dollars from countries that have the most atrocious human rights records.
Trump Administration Leaks
And how about a Senate report showing that the Trump administration has had to deal—since taking office, the president—with 125 deep state leaks in 126 days.
Hannity is referring to a report from the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee claiming that 125 stories published since the election contained leaks threatening to national security. A cursory review of those stories reveals that the committee’s standards for determining what constitutes a threat to national security are extremely elastic—the New York Times’ article on Trump’s dinner with James Comey is, for instance, evidently among the stories that placed Americans in mortal peril. Several of these stories are actually about the number of leaks coming from the White House.
What about Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn? You all followed the story. How you’ve been reporting about the fact that he was unmasked and that intel—raw intelligence—was leaked to the press? Well, that would be a crime.
The unmasking or de-anonymizing of Flynn in foreign surveillance has been reported by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, NPR, Politico, the New Yorker, and other outlets. The fact that his name has been leaked to the press has been mentioned by, for starters, the press outlets his name was leaked to.
The Comey Memos
Then there’s James Comey—a report from the Hill saying that four of Comey’s seven memos contained classified information and that the FBI considers the memos to be government property, meaning that Comey may have committed two felonies, broken the law, removing those files from the FBI.
To begin with, the documents in question are memos written by James Comey about his interactions with Trump, not a sheaf of documents Comey took out of the FBI’s possession. The allegation that they contained classified information and the legal questions that raises were covered by the Washington Post, Politico, CNN, ABC, NBC, Newsweek, the Daily Beast, Time, Vox, Slate, and other outlets.
Hannity ends the monologue by warning the mainstream press that it has “no crediblity left.” Among Hannity’s fans this is undoubtedly true. This naturally has less to do with what the mainstream press covers and how the press covers it than it does with the lies Hannity reads mindlessly from a prompter, night after night, to his viewers.