PolitiFact Fails to Rule Hannity's Phone-Hammering Sarcasm Was Mangled by MSNBC

Our News Analysis Division has given this fact checker a rating of:
Deeply Distorted Deeply Distorted

On June 6, Fox News host Sean Hannity sarcastically suggested that the Trump White House could emulate Hillary Clinton's tactics in the investigation of her private email server when it came to the Russia "collusion" probe:

If I advise them to follow Hillary Clinton's lead, delete all your emails and then acid-wash the emails and hard drives on the new phones, then take your phones and bash them with a hammer into little itsy-bitsy pieces, use BleachBit, remove the SIM cards  and then take the pieces and hand it over to Robert Mueller and say, ‘Hillary Rodham Clinton, this is equal justice under the law,' how do you think that would work out for everybody who Mueller is demanding their phones of tonight? I'm certain the result would not be the same as Hillary's.

Liberals took this message and twisted it into "Hannity urges destruction of evidence." On June 12, PolitiFact took up this liberal distortion of Hannity's words....and then proclaimed it would not issue any "Truth-o-Meter" verdict on this fact-mangling. PolitiFact's John Kruzel wrote: 

"Trump confidant Sean Hannity now advocating obstruction of Mueller probe," read the lower-third onscreen text — known as a chyron — during MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber.

Melber reinforced this point, saying, "Sean Hannity is now literally telling potential witnesses and subjects in the Mueller probe to destroy the evidence and hammer their phones into pieces."

We saw plenty of other examples of similar takes: "Sean Hannity is publicly instructing people to obstruct justice," [Amee Vanderpool, more than 1,600 RTs]  and "Sean Hannity suggested that the witnesses in the Mueller probe, which he may be a subject, target or witness in, destroy their cell phones, before handing them to investigators" [Brian Krassenstein, more than 1,600 RTs] are just two of the more popular posts we saw shared on social media.

We're not rating a statement on our Truth-O-Meter because this seems to be a case of differing interpretation.

"Differing interpretation"? That did not stop PolitiFact from ruling Hannity was "Mostly False" in 2015 when he cited Washington Free Beacon numbers showing Hillary Clinton paid full-time male staffers more than full-time female staffers. PolitiFact wanted to help Hillary look better by counting the part-timers and throwing in campaign operatives. That would be a differing interpretation, not a demonstration of "falsehood."

It's quite often that conservatives have a "differing intpretation" of the facts than liberal "fact checkers." In this "Hannity wants evidence destroyed" fable, Kruzel noted that Melber did note that Hannity said he was "kidding," but then he dismissed that as insincere (come on, "words are words"): 

"They would come on hard, they would tell people to destroy the evidence, to get rid of the evidence, and then they just say, ‘Oh, I’m just kidding,’" Akerman said. "It was kind of like a wink and a nod, but what they want you to do was destroy the evidence."

Melber did acknowledge that "Hannity's defenders may call that sarcasm or poetic license," before quickly adding, "but words are words."

On his June 7 show, Hannity showed that PolitiFact skipped over many more left-wing news outlets completely skipping over Hannity's sarcasm to inflame their left-wing audiences with dishonest clickbait: 


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