MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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If you have been watching Jon Stewart lately, you have had the pleasure of witnessing a series of withering attacks on Sean Hannity's hypocrisy. Furthermore, BuzzFlash (for many years) and Stewart have both sniffed the simmering racism of Hannity and FOX. Yes, it's a coded racism, but it's there - lingering in the smirk of his smug lacerating comments about liberals - and is a strong magnet of attraction to the aged, largely white male, viewing base of FOX.
This came to the forefront again with Hannity's strong support for Cliven Bundy, until Bundy openly expressed his racism - thus breaking the tacit understanding of Hannity, FOX and their viewers to never publicly disclose their bigotry. Racism on FOX (along with its bigoted cousin: "multiculturalism is destroying the United States") is a primary attraction of the program to its watchers who see white entitlement slipping from their hands. However, it is never to be openly acknowleged -- and even officially renounced if necessary, as Hannity did when he had to walk back his embrace of Bundy after the rancher channeled the opinions of a plantation slave owner on video.
As Jon Stewart pointed out, Hannity is always attacking President Obama and liberals for allegedly selectively applying the law, but when it comes to white male gun loving racists like Bundy (and anyone watching what happened before Bundy's followers threatened law enforcement officers with guns knew that racism and anti-big government sedition fit together like a hand in a kid glove), Hannity gives enormous latitude to white males who express anti-government sentiments, even when their firearms are pointed at Hannity's beloved police.
It is important to note, yet again, that the Nevada state Constitution designates as federal property, by law, the land Cliven Bundy has been using for grazing his cattle on. Around 15,000 ranchers pay the US goverment Bureau of Land Management for the right to have their cows eat and roam on US land. But Bundy wants welfare for his cattle, so he has broken Nevada and federal laws and now owes the US government over a million dollars.
You could call Cliven Bundy Sean Hannity's "Welfare King."
But let's return to the racial underpinnings of much of the FOX and Hannity "frame" on culture and politics in the US.
Several years ago, BuzzFlash noted that while Hannity was daily trying to make Obama into a black panther radical during the 2008 election campaign, the author Max Blumenthal had charged Hannity with being quite cozy with neo-Nazi Hal Turner when Hannity was starting out as a right-wing radio talk show host.
We wrote about these charges and evidence to seemingly back them up on BuzzFlash at the time, but due to a server move, those commentaries are not currently available.
However, an indispensible web site, "News Hounds: We watch Fox so you don't have to," reported on the allegations in a March 23, 2008, entry, "Neo Nazi/White Supremacist Hal Turner Confirms Friendship And Kinship With Sean Hannity":
Earlier in the week, Sean Hannity denied, albeit in contradictory terms, ever having a relationship with neo Nazi/white supremacist Hal Turner. As I posted the night Hannity was confronted about Turner, the evidence conflicts with Hanniy’s claims. Now Turner has confirmed their friendship and their sympatico views in a blog post called, “About Sean Hannity and Me. . . . . Yes, we were friends and yes, Sean agreed with some of my views.”
On WABC Hannity inherited Grant's fan base of angry white males, who listened to his show in the New York City area. Hannity recognized his audience's thirst for red meat, racist rhetoric. However, he knew that if he wanted to avoid Grant's fate, he needed an air of deniability. When "Hal from North Bergen" began calling his show, Hannity found he could avoid the dangers of direct race-baiting by simply outsourcing it to Turner.
During an August 1998 episode of the show, Turner reminded Hannity that were it not for the graciousness of the white man, "black people would still be swinging on trees in Africa," according to Daryle Jenkins, co-founder of the New Jersey-based antiracism group One People's Project. Instead of rebuking Turner or cutting him off, Hannity continued to welcome his calls. On December 10 of the following year, Turner called Hannity's show to announce his campaign to run for a seat in the US House of Representatives from New Jersey, and to attack his presumptive opponent, Democratic Representative Robert Menendez, as a "left-wing nut."
Turner claimed that "Sean and I spoke regularly off the air about our kids, politics and news of the day. My on-air calls to his show remained regular and welcome."
Hannity has denied knowing Turner, but has left a lot of questions unanswered about Turner's assertions as to their relationship.
As an up and coming right-wing radio talk show host, Hannity probably realized that Turner fit the profile of the WABC audience, and that Turner provided the kind of provocative racism that might help Hannity's ratings with his "white first" male listenership.
Hannity may have sanitized his white-male-centric appeal since coming to FOX, primarily by wrapping himself in the US flag and carefully choosing code words for much of the outlook that Turner represented, but his core appeal to ethnic bigotry remains the same.
As Rachel Maddow persuasively pointed out in a recent segment - by recounting the history of the posse comitatus movement - it would be hard from the beginning not to recognize that racism was linked to Cliven Bundy's literal refusal to acknowledge the existence of the government of the United States.
It would indeed be a stretch to think that Sean Hannity wasn't aware of the relationship.
Read also Bill Berkowitz on the same topic: "Conservative Supporters of Cliven Bundy Head for the Hills After Rancher's Racist Remarks."
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