CNN and Media Matters trying tag-team takedown on Sean Hannity

Media Matters for America (MMFA), the far-left advocacy group that targets conservative media and talk show hosts, was assisted in its efforts to get Fox News host Sean Hannity fired during a show on CNN on Sunday.  In a new low point for the Cable News Network, CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter welcomed MMFA president Angelo Carusone for a live, in-studio softball interview on why Hannity should be forced to go.

Stelter is no friend of Hannity, who has the #1 talk show on cable news.  He introduced the CNN segment halfway into his show Sunday at 11 A.M. EST (source: transcript at CNN dot com):

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Sean Hannity's show is simply called "Hannity," but I think it's time for a renaming. It really is the Hillary Clinton horror show.

Let's call it "The Clinton Scandal Hour," because, night after night after night, Hannity delights in supposed Clinton wrongdoing, seizing on old stories and spinning them into huge scandals.

Vox recently called him the media's top conspiracy theorist.

Now, my theory is that Hannity focuses on the Clintons partly so he doesn't have to deal with the daily Trump-related controversies.

Lately, it's also been a convenient diversion from the Roy Moore scandal.

At the end of one of his Clinton-bashing segments this week, Hannity kind of randomly said this:


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": By the way, I have sources all of us are being surveilled illegally, just in case you're interested.

Just telling you. Anyway...


STELTER: Anyway?

Sean, that's a huge story. You're under surveillance? By who, the Trump administration?

You know, kooky sound bites like that would sometimes go unnoticed, if not for Media Matters. Media Matters is a left-wing group that monitors right-wing media.

The group flagged that video clip and many, many more as part of an ongoing anti-Hannity campaign. Right now, it's promoting an ad boycott. It says, "Sign up to join the effort to encourage Hannity's advertisers to stop financially supporting his propaganda."

Let's talk about that with the group's president, Angelo Carusone. He joins me now here in New York.

After that intro, Carusone was given six minutes to make his case – without interruption or any serious challenge or probing questions – for organizing a serious effort to convince Hannity’s advertisers to stop sponsoring his show.

A similar advertiser boycott championed by MMFA and Carusone, aimed at former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, succeeded in getting O'Reilly fired last April – after being the #1 host on cable news for the previous fifteen years.  Previously, MMFA and/or Carusone worked to get conservative hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck fired from their programs.

It was advertisers deserting O'Reilly's show that cost him his job.  Carusone is following the same playbook, hoping to repeat that success with Hannity, whom he has been targeting since last May.

Stelter asked Carusone, "Why do you think it's appropriate to try to take away any commentator's advertisers?"

CARUSONE: I don't – I don't like it at all. ... [A]t some point, you are forced to do it. ... No other network would let their personalities go out there and do the kinds of destructive and reckless things that Sean Hannity does.

But when you're faced with an entity that doesn't have any accountability, you have two choices, do nothing and continue to endure the destructive consequences of it, or appeal to a higher power. In this case, it's the advertisers.

Angelo Carusone.

Carusone's appeals to low-information voters and sympathetic hosts like Stelter rely – like so much of the propaganda of the left – on systematic ambiguity: making vague but incendiary charges – of racism, hate speech, etc. – against a target without citing any specifics.  This is a tactic popularized by left-wing agitator and Hillary Clinton mentor Saul Alinsky in the 1960s, the author of one of the bibles of the left, Rules for Radicals (in effect dedicated by the author to Lucifer).

One would think a demand that the most popular program on cable TV news be summarily shut down would require hard evidence and specific examples of something egregious to justify such censorship and denial of a host's and his large audience's 1st Amendment rights.  But this is not and never has been the intent of the left, whether here or in the Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela, or anywhere else where the failed socialist-communist transformation of society has been tried.

An article at CNN dot com published after the program aired, twice on Sunday, continued to make MMFA's arguments:

Media Matters argues that Hannity's show is essentially "a Trump propaganda operation." ... The organization first called for a boycott in August, and it upped the pressure after Hannity stood by Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore.

"Stood by" Moore?  This is a ridiculous and unsupportable assertion. The day after the story broke alleging that Moore had committed sexual misconduct or battery on several young women, one of them under the age of 16 at the time, four decades ago, Hannity interviewed Moore on his radio show.  He replayed much of the interview on his Fox News TV program later that evening.  So far, it's the only interview Moore has given.  It put a lot on the record and was referenced in thousands of media reports and TV and radio discussions, and Hannity was given credit, including grudgingly from some in the left of center press, for asking Moore tough questions and getting him to answer questions on the record in the first place.

The following Wednesday, after challenging Moore to answer the accusations against him more directly, Hannity read a statement from Moore on his Fox News show.  He never "stood by" Moore or gave Moore his approval.  Rather, he said it is up to the voters in Alabama to decide Moore's fate in the special election scheduled for December 12.  Moore, it should be noted, denies all of the charges against him.  None of the allegations was ever heard until the Washington Post story alleging Moore's sexual misconduct four decades ago was published on Thursday, November 9, and obviously, none has ever been heard in a court of law.

None of these facts is relevant to the sharks on the left – including CNN, which is in direct competition with Fox News – who smell blood in the water from what they think is a seriously wounded Sean Hannity.

On CNN Sunday, Carusone claimed that thirty of Hannity's advertisers have dumped his program.  This number is impossible to confirm.  According to a search at Google News, no substantive new reporting on this subject has been published since November 15.

Who is Angelo Carusone?

Three years ago, the Daily Caller published "Media Matters Executive Wrote Racist, Anti-Semitic, Anti-'Tranny' Blog Posts."  Many of the posts, by Angelo Carusone, are in poor taste or too obscene to be quoted here.  Readers are invited to review the Daily Caller article.

Carusone became MMFA's president in 2016.  The organization was founded in 2004 by right-wing author turned left-wing activist David Brock as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation.  It has a $10-million-plus-a-year budget dedicated to monitoring and taking down any conservative media it doesn't agree with.

In 2010, MMFA declared "war" on Fox News.  As Politico reported on March 27, 2011:

The liberal group Media Matters has quietly transformed itself in preparation for what its founder, David Brock, described in an interview as an all-out campaign of "guerrilla warfare and sabotage" aimed at the Fox News Channel.

Much like Brock, but even more surprising, considering Carusone's vitriolic attacks against Republicans now, Carusone once described himself as...a Republican!  There's a wonderful resource online, archive dot org, that has copied and saved billions of web pages going back to 1996.  Using it, one can find original pages of Carusone's website, angelocarusone dot com, when he controlled its content over a period of years.  (More recently, the domain has fallen into the hands of Carusone's critics.)

On this page below, for example – saved on November 24, 2005 – Carusone posted the following entry dated Nov. 21, 2005 and titled "Political Pickle."

Interesting, isn't it?  So Carusone's political opinions have evolved – a lot – over the past decade.  Fine.

In a page captured on Oct. 20, 2006, Carusone wrote "About Me."


A knowledgeable source who has proven to be accurate 100% of the time, who wishes to remain anonymous, told me this on Sunday:

Sources interviewed from both Fox News and Premier radio [Hannity's radio show syndicator] say there has been zero attrition and impact with this latest boycott attempt. Advertisers are fully aware that MMFA hates Fox News and Sean Hannity. One ad exec tells ... that advertisers just dismiss the obvious political agenda behind the attacks.

Most people [inside MMFA] are thinking a change in leadership is imminent, perhaps as early as January.

One top donor believes MMFA under Carusone has become so singularly focused on destroying Hannity that he will put their tax exempt status in jeopardy. Top donors and David Brock are becoming more concerned the MMFA brand is being destroyed because Angelo keeps making it personal and just about Hannity and Fox.

The CNN article Sunday is titled "Fox News defends Sean Hannity amid calls for ad boycott."  The story notes:

The network on Sunday denounced a petition that is calling on advertisers to ditch Hannity's show as an "intimidation effort" that is "nothing more than political opportunism based on deceit." ...

Sunday's statement was the first time that Fox News has commented on the boycott effort.

"Sean Hannity hosts the number one program in cable news because millions of Americans make the decision to join him every night and the audience relationship is stronger than ever," said a Fox News spokesperson.

A Fox News spokesperson confirmed in an email to me Sunday evening that the Fox News statement cited by CNN is accurate and complete as of this time.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  Follow Peter on Twitter @pchowka.

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