Donald Trump Tweets Offensive Rant and Fox News' Dependable Sean Hannity Defends Him

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Sean Hannity lashes out at Trump's "cry-baby" critics on his "Hannity" show, Fox News, June 29. Fox News Screenshot

Loyalty, thy name is Sean Hannity. Even as President Donald J. Trump faced widespread condemnation for his sexist Twitter attack on MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski Thursday, he found a ferocious defender in the Fox News commentator, who said of the mainstream media in the opening monologue of that night's Hannity show: "They deserve to get hit back."

"The 'destroy Trump' media, they're a bunch of cry-baby whiners." he said. "They can't handle return fire." While Hannity didn't go so far as to defend Trump's tweets about Brzezinski's appearance and intelligence, he strongly argued that Trump was justified in lashing out at journalists and pundits who he believes set out to malign him from the moment he announced his candidacy for president two years ago, with his now-infamous speech about Mexican drug-dealers and rapists.

"Journalism in America is dead," Hannity said. "Do you need any more proof?" That proof for the most part included clips of television pundits attacking Trump, sometimes crudely. Hannity's own repeated attacks on former President Barack Obama, many of which had a plainly racial subtext, went unmentioned. Those were not, apparently, evidence of the demise of journalism or civility.

Hannity's red-faced defense of Trump was similar to that offered by deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier in the day. "Look, the American people elected a fighter. They didn't elect somebody to sit back and do nothing," Huckabee Sanders said. "He fights fire with fire."

As CNN's Brian Stelter pointed out on Twitter, fire is not customarily fought with fire. Fire has historically been fought with water.

In defending Trump, Huckabee Sanders called out personal attacks made by the "liberal media" and "Hollywood elites," two tropes beloved by Fox News. Hannity, for his part, invoked tin-foil hats and black helicopters, imagery he uses nearly every night to describe the media's supposed conspiracy-mongering about Trump's alleged ties to Russia. Those ties are now the subject of five separate investigations. It is not known whether any of those investigating Trump's potential collusion with Russia, or his potential obstruction of justice in firing FBI director James B. Comey, have recourse to helicopters. It is also not known if anyone affiliated with those investigations wears tin-foil hats.

"Members of the media, they're sheep, they're lazy, they follow each other," Hannity said as he continued to defend the White House with what appeared to be more or less its own talking points from earlier in the day.

Hannity and Huckabee Sanders both implicitly disputed the widely shared notion that attacking a television host was unbecoming of the leader of the free world, one with nuclear weapons at his disposal. The attack, which was denounced by many Republicans, comes as Trump struggles to advance his legislative agenda while tending to foreign threats, including North Korea.

One Republican congressman suggested that the tweet was meant to "distract from the healthcare debate." Indeed, some believe that Trump's more unhinged tweets are decoys meant to send the media chasing empty stories, thus giving Republican legislators time to do the work they believe is necessary to restore American greatness, such as repealing environmental regulations on carcinogens and keeping out orphaned Syrian refugees. Others believe they are merely unhinged tweets.

During the presidential campaign, Trump suggested that his personal attacks on enemies real and imagined would end when he took office. "I'm gonna be so presidential that you people will be so bored," he said.

Nobody seems bored quite yet.