David Zurawik

Hannity outrageously points finger at Waters, Obama for rhetoric that fed Annapolis Capital Gazette shooting

Fox News host Sean Hannity blamed Thursday's mass shooting in the Annapolis Capital Gazette newsroom on Rep. Maxine Waters and former President Barack Obama.

I would give anything for time to truly process my feelings before writing about the shooting that left five dead Thursday at The Sun’s sister publication, the Capital Gazette.

But Sean Hannity made that impossible with another one of his partisan culture-war, bomb-tossing comments, outrageously pointing his finger at Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters and former President Barack Obama for rhetoric that he suggested was in some way responsible for the shooting in Annapolis.


His inflammatory words tossed on to the bonfire of anger, pain and grief connected to these deaths matter on several levels, and they need to be immediately denounced. Though they are among the most egregious comments of the day, they are hardly the only highly politicized ones, particularly in social media.

Those who would recklessly attribute blame or guilt without evidence or seek to inflame passions for political motives in the wake of this horrific event need to be reminded that such acts are the very opposite of what people in newsrooms like the Capital Gazette dedicate their professional lives to — reporting facts and offering fact-based analyses day in and day out in an effort to serve their communities and democracy.


What makes Hannity’s comments today on his radio show particularly vile is that they come from a media personality who is a friend and powerful adviser to President Donald Trump, a politician who regularly uses inflammatory, anti-press rhetoric as a political tool, calling reporters “enemies of the people” and worse. The president has repeatedly sought to inflame rhetoric and incite animosity toward the press. He did it again in recent rallies the past week.

On his show today, Hannity said, “I’ve been saying now for days that something horrible was going to happen because of the rhetoric. Really, Maxine?” he continued as if addressing Waters. “You want people to ... ‘Call your friends, get in their faces?’ And Obama said that, too. ‘Get in their faces, call them out, call your friends, get protesters, follow them into restaurants and shopping malls’ and wherever else she said.”

For the record, here’s what Waters approvingly said in reaction to Trump administration officials being called out in public places or asked to leave in the wake of an administration policy that separated children from their parents at the Texas border.

“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up,” the congresswoman said. “If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

I am not sure what Hannity is referring to with Obama. If anything, the former president has been blamed lately for not being vocal enough in using his moral authority to shame Team Trump.

I have been denouncing Hannity as a dangerous propagandist on this blog since it started in 2008. I have called him just about every name I can without crawling into the media muck where he lives.

Maybe this is just too personal today. But the hypocrisy, the dishonesty, the willingness by Hannity to try and score partisan political points on the bodies of five dead journalists feels like almost too much to bear with any amount of equanimity tonight.