Brent, a POLIS Summer School student is the latest guest-blogger. He gives a flavour of how American politics can seep in to a summer sojourn in London thanks to New Media. And as it does, it raises questions about how partial American media can be.
Several mornings ago, coffee and scone in-hand, I thumbwheeled to the Sean Hannity podcast I had recently downloaded. I listen to his radio show often for amusement and occasionally in agreement. As Hannity, who is a conservative political commentator, began discussing George W. Bush’s recent commutation of “Scooter” Libby’s sentence, I could feel my disappointment growing; he simply wasn’t covering the story. Hannity’s complete disregard for the requisite integrity of journalism led me to take my frustration out on the misfortunate scone, as geographical barriers prevented me from skipping class and showing up at his studio.
I hope that the President had some rationale (beyond cronyism) for interfering with the criminal justice system to protect a convicted felon. Regardless, I would have expected Hannity to feel obligated to explain Bush’s decision, but he chose otherwise. Instead of offering some sort of justification—or if none is available, a condemnation—he shifted the focus of the discussion by rehashing Bill Clinton’s controversial pardons issued at the end of his term. I am probably not Hannity’s target audience, and at age 20 I neither remember nor care about Clinton’s inconsequential lame-duck activities. Perhaps Hannity can get away with such deliberate misguiding with an older audience, but it doesn’t change the nature of the current situation.
As a journalist, Hannity has a responsibility not to selectively exclude stories that don’t fit his political agenda. There is quite a difference between arguing for particular political views and completely ignoring a story because it does not conform to one’s politics. Previously, despite my frequent disagreement with him, I still believed that he was credible. Now Hannity must rebuild my trust.