Common Topics, Divergent Views on Dueling Cable News Shows

Both Fox News host Sean Hannity and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow began their broadcasts Wednesday with the news of an election interference scheme perpetrated by Iran. The similarities ended there.

Courthouse News switched things up a bit this week with our comparison of two evening news programs, this time turning to Fox News’ Sean Hannity and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Hannity didn’t pull any punches in his disdain for Democrats. He devoted a solid 10 minutes of his opening monologue to denigrating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for everything from sleeping and drinking chocolate, to his debate prep and naturally, Biden’s son Hunter.

Maddow took interest in a series of threatening emails recently sent by Iran to Democratic voters, which she covered for much of her show — baffled that anyone would claim they’re designed to damage President Donald Trump.

(CN) — Fox News host Sean Hannity began his broadcast Wednesday warning of an election interference scheme allegedly perpetrated by Iran. The FBI reported Iranian agents sent emails threatening U.S. voters with violence, which Hannity clearly believes is a coordinated effort to help Democrat Joe Biden win the election.

(Art by Carlos Ayala)

Not to be outdone, Maddow started her show by alerting viewers to the same emails. The authors, claiming to be the white supremacist group known as the “Proud Boys,” among others, warn that they have accessed “the entire voting infrastructure” and caution that the recipient must vote for Trump or “we will come after you.”

The alarming part is that the emails contained the recipients’ physical mailing address. It’s not hard to ascertain many Americans’ voting preference with a quick trip to Twitter. But pairing that with their home address is another story.

Amy Gardner, political reporter for The Washington Post, told Maddow the point of the emails isn’t to stuff the proverbial ballot box as much as to sow doubt.

“Foreign interference is not necessarily going to mess with the vote count, or actually undermine the integrity of our election results, but they believe the potential hacking and the actual hacking of these email systems by the Proud Boys has the potential to undermine public confidence,” Gardner said.

Old nemesis, new election

Discussing the campaign trail, Hannity referred to Biden as former President Barack Obama’s “geriatric, cognitively struggling former VP.” He took particular joy in noting Biden’s love of hot cocoa and naps, two beloved American pastimes, while insinuating Biden has been missing in action for most of the past week while hiding out in his basement.

For old time’s sake, Hannity changed his focus to Obama and questioned what the former president knew about Biden’s supposed shady dealings during their time together in the White House.

“Sadly, for Barack there’s no more hope. There’s no more change, there’s no more positive vibes, there’s no more ‘they go low, we go high’ — and like most of the far-left, Obama is filled with nothing but hate and rage for all things Donald Trump,” Hannity said.

Without the slightest hint of irony, he added: “Obama’s been obsessed with Fox, me in particular, for years.”

Judging Judge Barrett

Maddow tore into Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett for, among other things, sitting on the board of a private school that excludes children whose parents are gay, as well as excluding gay teachers.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York told Maddow that Democrats refuse to participate in what they consider to be a charade. Schumer believes Republicans are rushing through Barrett’s nomination because they’re afraid the longer the process takes, the more her views will come under a microscope. He said her views are “so far away from the American mainstream in terms of what she believes in terms of a woman’s right to choose, health care, labor rights, civil rights, gun safety, LGBTQ rights, that they don’t want it out there.”

Democrats have been frustrated with what they say is a clear-cut double standard for election year judicial nominations. Senate Republicans previously refused to even consider Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, citing the proximity to a coming election.

Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court on March 16, 2016 — nearly eight months before the presidential election. His nomination expired 293 days later, at the end of the 114th Congress on Jan. 3, 2017.

Prodigal sons and the liberal media

Turning to his other arch-nemesis, Hannity blasted the media which he said are giving Biden a pass for lying about his son Hunter’s activities with Ukrainian energy giant Burisma and a nebulous “state-backed Chinese entity.” Hannity believes a paper trail exists linking the Bidens to a motley crew of organized crime figures around the world, and said he’s looking forward to Trump bringing the topic up during Thursday’s debate.

“Zero-experience Hunter and his criminally convicted partners made millions of dollars as people believe they are buying access and favor from his then-VP father,” said Hannity as he reported that a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden is currently being investigated by the FBI in connection to a money laundering scheme.

Eric Trump, the president’s son, made an appearance to question Biden’s work ethic. Trump said his dad has been out campaigning every day while Biden has been hiding in his basement, neglecting to acknowledge the worsening pandemic which makes Trump’s rallies especially risky.

“He saved the country from socialism!” extolled the younger Trump.


Maddow turned her attention to a recent decision by leaders in Fargo, North Dakota, to mandate that residents wear masks in public. The state has got by thus far without such mandates, but due to rising case numbers the city’s mayor finally relented. As a predominately Republican state, Maddow acknowledged that it must have been a tough and likely unpopular call since masks have become so politicized.

“We were at a positivity rate of 2% and now we’re heading to 19%, that’s huge,” Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney told Maddow. “And so, you have a higher risk of people catching it so whatever tools we can use to help decrease the spread is extremely important to us.”

The deep state

Republican Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told Hannity reporters have been ignoring the alleged money laundering scandal involving the Bidens, which he said is itself a scandal. Johnson wants investigative reporters to use their sources to get to the bottom of what he considers to be the deep state agenda, saying FBI director Christopher Wray and CIA director Gina Haspel aren’t responsive to congressional oversight.

“That’s the other scandal, the deep state, slow-walking legitimate congressional oversight requests and keeping important information from the American public before an election,” Johnson said.

To illustrate the senator’s point, Hannity displayed a graphic with lines and arrows linking Hunter Biden to a group of supposedly nefarious individuals, very much reminiscent of the ever-popular conspiracy theory meme from the sitcom “Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

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