Sean Hannity (Getty/Nicholas Kamm)

Sean Hannity is guilty of "politicizing" mass shootings too

The Fox host says liberals are politicizing the Las Vegas massacre, but he's used other shootings for his agenda


Taylor Link
October 7, 2017 1:00PM (UTC)

An inherent vice of politics is hypocrisy. Pick an issue or a story and chances are hypocrisy lingers just around the corner.

On Fox News, however, hypocrisy occupies center stage, and Sean Hannity is its frequent co-star. Somehow, he's lionized disingenuousness and his latest venture — railing against liberals for politicizing Sunday's Las Vegas shooting — is no exception.

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A day after Stephen Paddock murdered 59 Americans at a country music concert, Hannity lamented on his show the rush to "politicize tragedy."

"Bodies weren't even in the morgue yet," he said. "None of this mattered to the left in this country." The next day, Hannity argued it was "beyond shameful" to watch late-night hosts and Democrats politicize the Las Vegas shooting.

It was not the first time Hannity denounced liberals for politicizing a mass shooting. Days after the deadly, racist-inspired 2015 shootings in Charleston, Hannity took to Twitter to attack the left for pushing gun control.

The way Hannity condemns politicization, Fox News viewers must think that every shooting demands a one-month grace period before even the most genteel of political discussions can begin. (The benefit there, of course, is that by the time that theoretical month would have passed, we're onto another senseless killing, another period of "thoughts and prayers.")

Yet, a review of Hannity's past commentary shows that he does not apply his no-politicization rule even-handedly. In fact, Hannity seems to delight in politicizing the death of Americans.

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Take, for example, the shooting death of Kathryn Steinle. Killed by an undocumented immigrant, Republicans used the shooting as a policy weapon to crack down on immigration. A week after Steinle's death, Hannity invited guests onto his show who had lost loved ones at the hands of undocumented immigrants.

He later wondered out loud whether former President Barack Obama would attend Steinle's funeral.

Through his grief-stricken guests, Hannity called for more hardline immigration policies. Later in the fall, he vehemently supported legislation named after Steinle (Kate's Law), and harangued Democrats for not backing the "common-sense legislation."

This exploitation of a shooting victim's death to marginalize people of color and whip up his red-state audience is no one-off incident for the host. Hannity did it after the San Bernardino massacre as well. Right after the shooting, Hannity suggested that the U.S. should be monitoring mosques and Muslims more closely.

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He again attacked Obama's leadership, questioning whether his policies were too lenient on foreign-sponsored terrorism.

When Democrats cautioned against policies that would punish all Muslims, Hannity and his colleagues chastised them for not being tougher.

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Sixteen Americans ultimately died from the San Bernardino shooting, and Hannity pretty well harnessed that tragedy to push his nationalist agenda.

Hannity's body of work demonstrates that he is willing, if not eager, to politicize a shooting, so long as the perpetrator is not a white, male, conservative American — basically the average Hannity watcher.

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Now, God knows, liberals too can be hypocrites. But in the fallout of the Las Vegas massacre and Charleston, Democrats did not call for the surveillance of old white men like Paddock; they did not seek to round up neo-Nazis like Dylann Roof. All they did was ask for common-sense gun regulation.

In Hannity's political world, that is "beyond shameful" — the inverse of banning refugees from entering the country. That itself is a damn shame.


Taylor Link

Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

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