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August 20, 2007

Sean Hannity Is Not A Journalist

It has been noted in a few places that Sean Hannity introduced Rudy Giuliani at a fundraiser a few weeks ago. Expect the left blogosphere to take the opportunity to freak out about “Faux News” and “blurring” between journalism and advocacy.

The details are here.

Hannity declined to comment, but his bosses at Fox News Channel and WABC, flagship station for his national radio show, defended their marquee star by arguing that he's not a journalist and shouldn't be judged as one.

"Sean is not a journalist - Sean is a conservative commentator," said Bill Shine, Fox's senior vice president of programming. "Sean doesn't hide, and never has hidden, his beliefs from anyone."

There is an important distinction between journalism and advocacy in the traditional media. But that distinction is relevant only because traditional media sources portray themselves as unbiased. I’m sure you’ll agree that no one would be surprised or outraged if Rush Limbaugh introduced a GOP candidate at a function. But that’s because Limbaugh, by no stretch of the imagination, can be confused for a journalist.

Is Hannity in the same situation as Limbaugh?


Yes. Hannity is a commentator on a TV talk show. He’s also a radio personality. He is not a journalist and should not be held to the rules that the journalist community have established to govern itself. When you hear people complaining about this today, don’t forget that.

The NY Daily News was nice enough to remind us of an occasion when an actual journalist crossed the line into advocacy. Can you guess which political party was involved?

[T]hen-CBS anchor Dan Rather caused howls of protest when he attended a Democratic Party fund-raiser in Texas in 2001 organized by his daughter.

Rather - whose transgression was in many ways worse, since news anchors are expected to betray no bias in covering the news - immediately apologized.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:55 PM

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