Entertainment

After the Hannity travesty, Fox News freed itself (just a little) with a bold election night decision

After the Hannity travesty, Fox News freed itself (just a little) with a bold election night decision

Nothing could disprove the journalistic shame of Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity, who appeared on an onstage love party with President Trump this week during a rally in the Missouri.

But the "decision desk" of the network boldly steered in that direction on Tuesday night when it made an early prediction that the House would go to the Democrats.

It was a wonderful moment.

The voting round of the observers' observers arrived just after 9.30 pm.

For the next 45 minutes or so – an eon in the election night – no news organization has supported Fox. And it was not until 11 a.m. that CNN has made its own similar decision.

After about half an hour of that special form of loneliness, Fox's political editor came on the set to talk about it.


President Trump greets Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity at a Make America Great Again rally in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on Monday. (Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)

"Why do we do that phone call?" Early Bret Baier to Chris Stirewalt.

"We are just that good", was the confident response from Stirewalt.

Of course, the appeal turned out well – and it was a triumph for a network that had had a terrible week from a journalistic perspective.

Fox Messing had issued a statement just a day earlier in which Hannity and his colleague Jeanine Pirro were slightly rebuked for what it called – too lightly – the derivation of their appearance at the rally stage.

It was much worse than a distraction. For every other news organization, it would have been an offensive fact.

But Fox plays according to his own rules, and as the Washington Post said Erik Wemple memorablely: "Sean Hannity owns Fox News."

The decision-desk's decision made me think that somewhere – including all its horrendous propaganda and conspiracy peddling – a beating heart of news is still pumping away at Fox, no matter how weak.

The problem is that Fox caused so much damage to Hannity and his other anxious experts that even the best work immediately caused the cry of disbelief and distrust. It is the network that called wolf.

And so, shortly after the call was made, Twitter burst out with conspiracy theories: Fox went out on this part for cynical political purposes: to discourage Democrats who had not voted not to bother with it.

But that was not the case.

It was just good mechanics – and a lot of confidence – from the team that had set up a new voter analysis system that uses a new approach to abandon polls.

And it was in stark contrast to what Peter Baker of the New York Times described at the meeting in Missouri: that, at least on Monday night, "the merger of president and network seemed complete".

When the rally began, he wrote, White House communications tsar Bill Shine (a former CEO at Fox) and Hannity were seen high-fiving each other.

And on stage, perhaps at the lowest moment, Hannity repeated Trump's chorus: "By the way, all those people in the back are fake news."

Among those people in the back were a Fox News crew and correspondent Kristin Fisher.

Hannity later explained that he obviously did not intend to take his colleagues in his insult: it was just everyone different in the media he was talking about.

The news team of the cable network – allegedly hurt by Hannian's antics – deserves the credit to claim Tuesday's most memorable media moment.

It does not make up for the worst of Fox.

But it suggests that there is still life in the battered entity that Fox wants you to think is a news network.

For more information from Margaret Sullivan go to wapo.st/sullivan

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