New York Times media reporters Michael Grynbaum and John Koblin doubled down on hypocritical double standards on disclosure Wednesday, criticizing Fox News host, commentator, and Trump supporter Sean Hannity for his undisclosed client relationship with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, while letting NBC News host Chuck Todd throw stones at Hannity from his crystal perch, in “No Disclosure, but No Punishment, as Hannity Gets ‘Full Support’ From Fox.” The online headline was snarkier: “No Disclosure? No Problem. Sean Hannity Gets a Pass at Fox News.”
Fox News declared its “full support” for Sean Hannity on Tuesday, even as the network acknowledged that its executives were caught by surprise when the conservative commentator was named as a client of President Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen.
But in the past, Mr. Hannity had run into trouble for crossing the line from commentator to activist -- and Tuesday’s subdued reaction speaks to the new realities at Trump-era Fox News.
He has offered Mr. Trump advice, parroted his sulfurous attacks on the media, and dined with him at Mar-a-Lago and the White House. Like other cheerleading Fox pundits, including Jesse Watters and Jeanine Pirro, Mr. Hannity has been granted a presidential interview multiple times.
It has been good for business. In early 2016, “Hannity” averaged 1.8 million viewers and was the sixth-most watched show on cable news. This year, he is averaging 3.2 million viewers — and is ranked No. 1. On Monday, his first show since the revelations about Mr. Cohen, Mr. Hannity pulled in 3.7 million viewers, topping his MSNBC rival, Rachel Maddow, and two N.B.A. playoff games.
Those numbers are the envy of the industry, even as rival hosts have increasingly lamented Fox News’s hard-line turn.
Then the paper shamelessly quoted NBC News political director and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, excoriating Fox News’ ethical standards, without mentioning Todd’s own lack of disclosure.
In February, the NBC News anchor Chuck Todd wondered aloud if the network’s ethics standards had deteriorated since the 2016 exit of Roger E. Ailes, the network’s late mastermind. “I can’t believe that I’m about to say what I’m about to say,” Mr. Todd said on a Recode podcast. “But Roger Ailes ran a more journalistically honest organization.”
The Times didn't mention Todd's own discloure failues -- how Todd has often failed to note during relevant interviews that his wife was active in Democratic Party strategic communications and sometimes donated to Democrats. In 2012, Kristian Denny Todd contributed $2,500 to Sen. Tim Kaine, who in 2016 was picked as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate. Yet Todd failed to disclose the donation during three Kaine interviews on NBC in 2016. Kristian Denny Todd’s firm also had a business relationship (almost $2 million in billing) with socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, which he also failed to disclose in the course of 11 interviews with Sanders in 2016.
Todd tweeted Tuesday morning: “Going to find out what kind of org Fox is today. No serious news org would allow someone this conflicted to cover this story.” Todd is so lacking in self-awareness that he seems to think his wife's million-dollar billings with national Democrats aren't worth disclosing, but Fox isn't a "serious news org" on the Hannity matter.
One cheer for the Times for briefly mentioning two liberal media embarrassments.
MSNBC suspended the liberal commentator Keith Olbermann in 2010 after it learned that he made campaign donations to Democratic congressional candidates. ABC News backed George Stephanopoulos, its chief news anchor, after he apologized for not having disclosed $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation, saying, “We stand behind him.”