For Sean Hannity, It's Still All About Hillary's Emails

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Fox News

It’s Sean Hannity’s party, and he’ll cry about Hillary Clinton if he wants to. He will do so even as Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act collapse. He will do so if North Korea should decide to obliterate California. Oh, sure, he’ll take a moment to mourn the Golden State...before returning to greater outrages, like Clinton’s private email server.

If Fox & Friends sets U.S. President Donald Trump’s agenda at the beginning of the day, Hannity is an evening venting session, exposing his deepest frustrations, outlining the bulging veins of his unceasing anger. As such, Hannity’s show is infinitely more useful than the daily White House press briefing, as it is infinitely more forthright, not to mention always on the record. It is impossible to say just how much Hannity coordinates his messaging with the White House, if at all, but he seems to depict and predict the president’s fixations with remarkable accuracy.

Those fixations involve, to a large extent, the woman Trump defeated last November. Listening to Hannity — or reading Trump’s tweets — you’d be forgiven for thinking that Clinton was the president, or else the emboldened leader of an opposition party about to wrest power from Trump in some sort of coup. She is neither, of course, but the right’s obsession with Clinton is revealing, for it shows just how thoroughly Trump and his most ardent supporters in the right-wing media remain mired in the past, how unwilling or unable they are to move beyond the grievances that animated his presidential campaign.

"There are so many questions we need answers to,” Hannity said darkly during the opening monologue of Monday’s show. None of those questions had anything to do with Trump’s own imperiled agenda. Instead, they involved Ukraine’s alleged “collusion” with the Democratic candidate via a party operative unaffiliated with her campaign, an effort that involved a meeting Politico reported on months ago; a “massive scandal” that did involve American uranium sold to Russia, but did not involve Hillary Clinton; a dossier of compromising information on Trump, which was compiled by a British former spy and discounted by most mainstream news organizations because its contents could not be verified.

To hear Hannity, the main goal of the Trump administration is not to make America great again, but to keep running against Clinton as if it were still October and North Carolina were still in play, to relitigate every instance of dishonesty, real or imagined, that has ever attached itself to her name. Trump’s own Twitter account brims with reminders of her supposed sins, as if he were a prosecutor trying a case before the public

Other right-wing outlets have taken the cue.

"One of the most serious cases of foreign intervention in a U.S. election actually occurred on behalf of the Clintons," declared Breitbart News on Monday in recounting the obscure story of an Indonesian billionaire who may have had some pull with Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

The Daily Caller, meanwhile, thought this the proper time to interview a retired diplomat who criticized Clinton for her "mind-boggling" lack of muscular response to Russia's explulsion in 2012, when she was Secretary of State, of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Why now? Why not!

The constant references to Clinton are intended as cover: If she did it, why can’t Trump? Nevermind that an ill-advised meeting with a Ukrainian ambassador is nothing compared to a concerted campaign that may well have enlisted Russian hackers; that the Clintons’ influence-peddling is dwarfed many times over by Trump’s blatant disregard for ethics, personal, governmental or otherwise; that, above all, Clinton’s errors do not license Trump’s transgressions.

Republicans seem to treat the Clintons’ secrecy and ocassional dishonesty as some new revelation, one that should shock all Americans into immediatelly taking stock of their deepest civic convictions, when it was precisely those qualities that gave many Democrats discomfort during both the Democratic primary and the general election. Clinton compounded those worries with her own sometimes inexplicable behavior, such as the protracted refusal to apologize for setting up a private email server or the extended drama over her speeches to Goldman Sachs. That’s why she lost. That’s why Trump is president.

But what, exactly, does that presidency entail? Do the “forgotten Americans” Trump promised to fight for really care about Clinton’s deleted emails? Or about the fact that she didn’t campaign in Wisconsin?

"We will demand the media will do their job,” Hannity said on Monday night. The irony of pointing to a Politico article while denouncing the media was beyond the grasp of the excitable propagandist. Perhaps he knew that The New York Times and other outlets had covered the uranium deal that, in Hannity’s telling, demanded the nation’s attention many years after its completion.

And while many outlets mentioned the British dossier, very few took it seriously. Most were too responsible to do so. One wonders how responsible Fox News would have been with a similarly dubious file on Obama. Given the network’s ugly history of questioning his American citizenship, the answer seems depressingly obvious.

The right can rail about uranium all its wants. Clinton isn’t to blame for Trump’s troubles. Neither is CNN. She’s relaxing, while the media are doing their job. When will Trump do his?