For many observers, the discovery on Monday that Sean Hannity had been hiding his involvement with Michael Cohen raised questions about the journalistic scruples of the Fox News host. But some point out that he was never a journalist anyway.
On Monday Sean Hannity was outed as one of Michael Cohen's clients, next to President Donald Trump. Hannity came under fire for his decision to omit that fact from previous discussions of the case, even as he would rail against the FBI investigations into Cohen and Trump.
Hannity responded to the criticism in a series of tweets, insisting that Cohen never represented him, that he never retained Cohen or paid him legal fees, and that the conversations they had “dealt almost exclusively with real estate.”
Some of Hannity's harshest critics have taken to Twitter to point out, in backhanded defense, that Hannity couldn’t have broken journalism’s code of ethics, because he isn’t a journalist.
.@SeanHannity is so into this, like a pig in the mud, he can't get out of it and I think he deserves to be fired. His word could never again be trusted given the fact that he consciously did not reveal this relationship. @CNNSitRoom @WolfBlitzer #FireHannity pic.twitter.com/UCOoo1kW3U— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) April 16, 2018
Fox host Juan Williams questions Hannity's refusal to disclose his relationship with Michael Cohen: pic.twitter.com/XOrRWFVeWj— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) April 16, 2018
The outrage is real. Filmmaker Rob Reiner considers Hannity's omission a serious ethical breach.
If Fox News doesn’t fire Sean Hannity for not revealing his conflict of interest with Michael Cohen, the thinly veiled “news” organization will officially become state run television. God help Democracy if a huge portion of the media refuses to search for the truth.— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) April 17, 2018
Berkley Economics Professor Robert Reich explained the stakes thusly:
Fox News has a choice. It can either fire Sean Hannity or take the word "News" out of its name.— Robert Reich (@RBReich) April 17, 2018
But don't get your hopes up, according to Vanity Fair's Joe Hagan:
The idea that Fox News would consider Sean Hannity compromised by his relationship to Michael Cohen is almost cute.— Joe Hagan (@joehagansays) April 16, 2018
Wait, ethics, what? Interestingly, some liberals were less eager to banish Hannity. He didn't deserve infamy for being an unethical journalist, they said, because he was never a journalist to being with.
He's not a journalist so he doesn't "cover". Don't give him too much credit.— Terri LCR (@tlcr0605) April 16, 2018
Pollster Matt McDermott called "big duh" on the whole thing.
Wait, are some people seriously *just* realizing that Sean Hannity is an unethical fraud who has absolutely no place hosting a show on a so-called news network?— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) April 16, 2018
Author Mark Harris put it this way:
So, as I understand it, Michael Cohen is a "lawyer" who "represented" "journalist" Sean Hannity.— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) April 16, 2018
Conservative radio host and former-Republican Congressman from Illinois Joe Walsh quipped that expecting Fox to discipline Hannity is to hold the very network to higher journalistic standards than it deserves.
In conclusion... maybe it's not really that big of a deal?
Sean Hannity can't be accused of a conflict of interest because he has no interest— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) April 16, 2018