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Alternative Fact of the Week: Take the Sean Hannity challenge

Alternative Fact of the Week: Take the Sean Hannity challenge
The mansion at Sherwood Gardens, where one brave editorial writer is willing to live for as long as necessary while Fox News host Sean Hannity inhabits a border detention facility. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun)

The fact-sorters at Alternative Fact of the Week Central don’t normally go after media figures, particularly those who have vigorously denied that they are journalists, but we’ve decided to make an exception for Sean Hannity, the 57-year-old Fox News host/quasi-White House communications director. There is no more loyal foot soldier to the Great Prevaricator Donald Trump than this extremely loud New York native. But most crucially, Mr. Hannity has the same affinity for factual accuracy as Ronald Reagan had for racial sensitivity, especially while on the phone with Richard Nixon talking about UN delegates from Africa. And that’s not even mentioning the shock-talk guy’s own embrace of debunked conspiracy theories (having offered to buy Barack Obama a one-way plane ticket to Kenya in die-hard birther fashion just a few years ago).

Naturally, when the subject of Baltimore came up this week, Mr. Hannity was quick to pile on — apparently, like the president, he has only recently discovered that rats, trash, vacant homes and homicides exist in Charm City and believes them all the fault of one of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. But then, part of Mr. Hannity’s diatribe caught our ear.

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In a brief conversation last Monday with fellow Fox flame-thrower Laura Ingraham (best remembered as last year’s enthusiastic taunter of a teen Parkland shooting survivor turned down in several college applications), Mr. Hannity said he’d rather live in a migrant detention center than in Baltimore or similar big cities where there are “15, 30, 100 people shot and killed every weekend.” Yikes. We thought Baltimore had a crime problem, but there’s a U.S. city where 100 people are shot and killed every weekend? We would call on Mr. Hannity to identify that jurisdiction in the interest of public safety (and, sorry, but Liberty City in the ultra-violent Grand Theft Auto video game doesn’t count as it’s fictional). Given the U.S. suffers about 13,000 homicides per year, that hellish town is responsible for more than one-third of the problem, and that’s not even counting weekdays. But we digress.

What we really want to do is to challenge the talking head to a contest. One member of our crack Alternative Fact staff will agree to live in Rep. Elijah Cummings’ dreaded 7th Congressional District while Mr. Hannity agrees to live at one of those spiffy migrant detention facilities run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a comparable amount of time. Our personal preference would be the one in Clint, Texas, that has come under considerable criticism for being cramped and foul with young children who are hungry, scared and suffering with chickenpox and scabies. Sometimes, as The New York Times has reported, the youngsters live in their own filth. Trump cheerleaders like Mr. Hannity claim such dire conditions are a pure fiction, so what better moment to demonstrate that they are not?

We're sure Sean Hannity would appreciate the shade tarp that National Guard soldiers draped over the portable toilets adjacent to a building used for the detention of unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody in Clint, Texas.
We're sure Sean Hannity would appreciate the shade tarp that National Guard soldiers draped over the portable toilets adjacent to a building used for the detention of unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody in Clint, Texas. (Cedar Attanasio / AP)

Meanwhile, we will bravely consent to have one of our staff attempt what we are calling "The Survival of the 7th.” We’ll even stipulate that the residence will be within Baltimore’s boundaries, as the district extends deep into surrounding counties.

In the interests of full disclosure, the brave staffer already lives in Baltimore’s 7th, which really cuts down on our costs. So, if you prefer, Mr. Hannity, we will insist she move out of her home and into a dwelling next to Sherwood Gardens in the city neighborhood of Guilford. You probably aren’t familiar with the area, Sean, but we think there’s a decent chance she’ll survive. In return, we expect you to move out of your sprawling Long Island waterfront estate and show up in Clint for some old-fashioned border patrol hospitality that you spend so much time bragging about.

Live in Maryland's 7th Congressional District? We'll manage somehow.
Live in Maryland's 7th Congressional District? We'll manage somehow. (GENE SWEENEY JR / Baltimore Sun)

Do we have a deal? The winner gets to taunt. The loser publicly acknowledges that Baltimore’s best path forward requires fewer racist tweets from the liar-in-chief seeking to score political points on a House Oversight Committee chairman and more help from Washington, D.C., as well as Annapolis, and yes, a better performance from locally-elected leaders and a continuing strong commitment from the people who live here but don’t seem to get much sympathy from you until it’s politically convenient for your rat-like White House master. To be honest, we like our chances.

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