‘Hardball’ Guest Whacks Hannity for Advising Trump Without a College Degree, Matthews Defends

For the second time in as many days, frequent CNN and MSNBC guest/former Republican Congressman David Jolly proved his usefulness to the liberal media by not criticizing the relationship between President Trump and Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity on conflicts of interest or policy, but by cheaply condemning Hannity for not having graduated college.

The discussion came during Wednesday’s Hardball in light of the Monday revelation following an unsealing of court documents that Michael Cohen has given legal advice to Hannity and further put a spotlight (albeit an obsessive one by the liberal media) on the pair’s closeness. 

 

 

Host Chris Matthews initially condemned Hannity for “spinning conspiracy theories” about the idea of a Deep State out to remove President Trump from office. Aside from his policy, however, Matthews sought to understand and even defend Hannity.

Speaking to Jolly and The Washington Post’s Robert Costa, he told them that he doesn’t “want to be a media critic...because I am in the media and I think it's like a baseball player complaining about another baseball player” but focus on “the possible extraordinary influence that Sean Hannity might have on this President.”

Having written a front-page story about it, Costa argued that the pair jell since Hannity’s “a New Yorker, brash, conservative” who “relishes his anti-establishment persona.”

Matthews went to Jolly and admirably defined why elected officials turn to friendly journalists and pundits to get a sense of what their political base might be thinking (click “expand” to see more):

If you're on the air three hours a day, I think three hours a day that Sean is, it takes a particular talent to be on the air in talk radio. I don’t know if I’d be any good at it or not because you really have to have a good ear for the audience and you begin to develop a conversation with your regular audience...Is that what he's checking on? Is it like a polling operation, calling up Sean, is the President saying: “Is this working? Is that working? What should I be pushing? What should I be playing down? Where is the action? How are the people reacting to this?” Is that what he's using it for? And so, what's so wrong with that if he's using him as his guy with an ear to the ground? 

Jolly replied that this this relationship instead “feeds into the lack of credibility that I think a lot of Americans have when it comes to Donald Trump and the fact is Sean Hannity is not a subject matter expert.”

After a nod to George W. Bush’s less-than-ideal election that was redeemed by “seasoned advisers,” Jolly went personal:

In this case, Sean Hannity is not seen as a trusted hand, a subject matter expert, a man who never graduated from college is giving policy advice to the President of the United States and I think that's the concern and anxiety this story that Robert so ably reported on creates within the American people. 

Matthews again tried to strike a middle ground, conceding that Hannity “does have his ear to the ground” by being on-air “four hours a day” (three on the radio, one on television). 

Unlike Jolly, Costa reiterated that “[t]he way it's described to me by White House officials and friends of the President is that it's feedback” and “[t]hat Hannity to the President represents that base, that base conservative voter who listens to talk radio who may have voted for President Trump.”

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on April 18, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
April 18, 2018
7:22 p.m. Eastern

SEAN HANNITY: Let’s look at the Mueller crime family. Of course, we are now on day 329 of the Mueller witch hunt and there's still zero evidence of collusion. Imagine that. [SCREEN WIPE] Remember this whole witch hunt started when Mueller’s best friend, James Comey, leaked his personal, potentially classified notes. [SCREEN WIPE] During his tenure at the FBI, We all know about the special treatment that Hillary Clinton received from the Bureau. [SCREEN WIPE] Knowing what we now know about what is obvious deep state crime families trying to take down the President. [SCREEN WIPE] Aren't you now glad that Trump fired Comey. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball. That was Fox News host Sean Hannity spinning conspiracy theories on his show last week, arguing that Clinton, Mueller and Comey crime families — that’s what he calls them — are out to get President Trump. Well, before this segment aired — that did — the President tweeted: “Big show tonight on [Hannity].” He was promoting what Sean was about to say. On Monday, it was revealed that both Trump and Hannity had — were clients of lawyer Michael Cohen. They share a lawyer. Well, at least in case of Trump, a fixer. The Washington Post’s Robert Costa reports that: “The revelation this week that the two men share an attorney is just the latest sign of how Hannity is intertwined with Trump's world — an increasingly powerful confidant who offers the media-driven president a sympathetic ear and shared grievances. The conservative commentator is so close to Trump that some white house aides have dubbed him the unofficial chief of staff.” The author of that article, of course, Robert Costa, who’s a national political reporter from The Washington Post and MSNBC political analyst and David Jolly, former Republican congressman from Florida. I don't want to be a media critic. I try to avoid that because I am in the media and I think it's like a baseball player complaining about another baseball player. What I do focus here is on is the possible extraordinary influence that Sean Hannity might have on this President. How would you describe it when he gives that deep state conspiracy stuff about how it's all a plot by bureaucrats and the federal agencies to get this particular President and he's not just echoing the president, He may be forcing the President to echo him which is a thought I want you to dwell on for a second. Robert? 

ROBERT COSTA: It's an understandable story for a long time watchers of President Trump, Sean Hannity, a New Yorker, brash, conservative, relishes his anti-establishment persona. As the president returns to his roots in a sense during this presidency, ignoring at times the advice of his traditional advisers, he's turning to people like Sean Hannity and often Sean Hannity to give him counsel informally, phone calls late at night, sometimes early in the morning as they think through their own lives and the President's agenda. 

MATTHEWS: Well, let me give some logic to this, first of all, to David Jolly. You know, I’ll check this on you. If you're on the air three hours a day, I think three hours a day that Sean is, it takes a particular talent to be on the air in talk radio. I don’t know if I’d be any good at it or not because you really have to have a good ear for the audience and you begin to develop a conversation with your regular audience, the ones who's tune in every day that give you the big bucks and the big audience, obviously. Is that what he's checking on? Is it like a polling operation, calling up Sean, is the President saying, is this working? Is that working? What should I be pushing? What should I be playing down? Where is the action? How are the people reacting to this? Is that what he's using it for? And so, what's so wrong with that if he's using him as his guy with an ear to the ground. 

DAVID JOLLY: Sure. If it's measuring the pulse of the body politic, perhaps there's nothing wrong with that. But I think this feeds into a bigger suspicion and it’s this. There's a difference between lack of experience and lack of credibility. Frankly, most presidents come to the job without the experience necessary to be commander in chief on day one. But this feeds into the lack of credibility that I think a lot of Americans have when it comes to Donald Trump and the fact is Sean Hannity is not a subject matter expert. 

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

JOLLY: If you look at Bush 43 came in, he was young. The legitimacy of the election was questioned, but he surrounded had himself by seasoned advisers, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Rumsfeld. Whether you agreed with their ideology or not, you knew he was in trusted hands. In this case, Sean Hannity is not seen as a trusted hand, a subject matter expert, a man who never graduated from college is giving policy advice to the President of the United States and I think that's the concern and anxiety this story that Robert so ably reported on creates within the American people. 

MATTHEWS: Is that the overlay, the dangerous red line here, Robert, as you report it is not that he's giving him political advice which Sean would be good at because he does have his ear to the ground. He's on the air all day long — four hours a day, including radio. He knows what's working with the conservative base. The poll, the right-wing poll, if you will, but he's not an expert on regional studies with China or regional studies with the Middle East. Is he getting policy advice or political advice from Sean Hannity? 

COSTA: The way it's described to me by White House officials and friends of the President is that it's feedback. That Hannity to the President represents that base, that base conservative voter who listens to talk radio who may have voted for President Trump. He's not looking to Hannity for policy advice. But he trusts his own instincts but he also trusts as someone who has a mass audience, has to cater to a mass audience and he sees Hannity as someone in a similar position in that respect, trying to play to that base and keep that audience. 


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