Sean Hannity, the Fox News commentator and talk-radio host, is perfectly entitled to support President Donald Trump, to defend Trump’s allies, and to attack Trump’s enemies. But his audience deserves the truth about his relationship to this presidency.
He has yet to level with them.
Oh, viewers know that Hannity is a right-wing populist who calls himself a conservative and votes Republican. No one is under the impression that he is “fair and balanced,” and the most discerning can calibrate their viewing experience accordingly. But most viewers understandably assumed that Hannity’s coverage of Trump is no different than his commentary on other elected GOP officials he has supported.
That isn’t so. Hannity is not an outside observer who likes what he sees in the Trump White House and shares that perspective. He is a participant in this presidency, one who still hasn’t ever fully disclosed how he affects and is affected by the actions Trump takes.
That is not to say that he should shut up. It is to say that he owes his viewers enough context to make informed judgments about his biggest biases, blind spots, conflicts of interest, and how they may affect his words.
There is a long history of ideologically aligned pundits offering advice to elected officials with whom they agree. It would be difficult to determine the exact line where such behavior crosses over into the assumption of a fundamentally different role that confers an obligation to alert the public that something has changed. But Hannity’s case isn’t even a close call.