Does Fox News' Sean Hannity get talking points from Trump via carrier pigeon? Yes sir!

Texts show Hannity taking direction from Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and responding, in true journalistic fashion, 'Yes sir.'

Rex Huppke

As a huge fan of Fox News host Sean Hannity, I was delighted to learn that on Election Day 2020 he was in close touch with then-President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, getting direction on how best to help the reelection effort.

CNN first reported on the Nov. 3, 2020, text messages between Hannity and chief of staff Mark Meadows, in which Meadows told the host to “stress every vote matters” and Hannity, in true journalistic fashion, responded: “Yes sir.” He then asked Meadows: “Any place in particular we need a push.”

I saw a slew of folks reacting to this news with comments along the lines of “How does Sean Hannity still have a job?” and “This goes against every rule of journalism, and then some.”

What a bunch of baloney! If more news pundits and journalists marched in lockstep with the Trump administration, I wouldn’t have to shout the term “FAKE NEWS!” 450 times a day and our democracy would be a smooth-functioning monarchy, as the Founding Fathers intended.

President Donald Trump and Sean Hannity during a 2018 rally in Missouri.

The authenticity of toadyism

Hannity, as Fox News described him in an April 21 press release, is “the longest-running primetime cable news host in television history” and “one of the most prominent and influential voices in the country.” 

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Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott was quoted in the release: “Sean’s authenticity and insightful commentary have created one of the most enduring connections with our audience and it’s been an honor to watch him over the years.”

There are few purer signs of media authenticity than a widely watched news network host comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable by asking people in the highest seats of American power how they might be of service and, after receiving specific direction, saying, “Yes sir.” 

Just like Cronkite used to do

It’s like the time CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite texted President Richard Nixon and asked: “Yo Dick, how you want me to play this Watergate stuff LOL.” Nixon texted, “Keep on the DL, pls,” and Cronkite replied, “Yes sir” with a heart emoji. 

Walter Cronkite

I reached out to my friends at Fox News to see if they had a response to the release of Hannity’s texts with Meadows. I assumed that response would be, “Nice job, Sean, way to be a team player,” but I couldn’t be sure.

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I also asked: “Is it normal for one of the Fox News network’s leading voices to work in conjunction with political leaders in the White House?”

Since nobody responded, I’ll assume the answer is, “Yes, as long as it’s a Republican in the White House.” Makes perfect sense to me.

Hannity the maverick

Further cementing Hannity’s reputation as a maverick in the world of lickspittle journalism, I’ve yet to see a single text from a left-leaning, high-profile pundit that shows such self-assured sycophancy. Sure, CNN contributor and Democratic operative Donna Brazile once slipped debate questions to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ahead of a town hall event. But she was a mere contributor at CNN, not a big-name host, and rather than having the courage to applaud Brazile’s esprit de corps, the network quickly cut ties with her.

Former head of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile.

They just don’t understand good apple-polishing journalism. Besides, if similar texts from a big liberal TV figure like Rachel Maddow came out, people like Meadows and Hannity would have to find a way to frame it as unspeakably bad behavior, and that would eat up a good seven months that could be spent yelling about things Trump wants them to yell about.

Exclusive interview with a pigeon

Since the Fox News folks were unavailable, I was able to score a brief, exclusive interview with the carrier pigeon that now transports talking points from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to Hannity’s office in New York City. (It was decided this system is more secure than texting.)

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Here’s a transcript of our conversation.

Me: Hi, what’s your name, please?

Pigeon: Well, Mr. Hannity always says “Yes sir” when I arrive, so I guess my name is “Yes sir.” Or maybe it’s “Yessir.” 

Me: Fine, Yessir. How often do you deliver former President Trump’s talking points to Mr. Hannity?

Pigeon: Every day. It’s quite a flight, but I’m happy knowing I’m doing my part.

Me: That’s great. You’re a true patriot. Does Mr. Hannity ever ask questions about the talking points?

Pigeon: Nope. He just takes them, reads them and spits them back out into the microphone. Kind of reminds me of when I feed my kids in the nest. Just chew some stuff up and regurgitate it into their mouths.

Me: Gross.

Pigeon: Hey, I don’t judge your parenting, do I?

Me: Sorry. So Mr. Hannity just parrots what Trump tells him … Oops, sorry I said “parrot,” didn’t mean that as a joke.

Pigeon: It’s OK.

Me: So Mr. Hannity just repeats this stuff every day? How long do you think this will go on?

Pigeon: As long as it takes to Make America Great Again, I suppose.

Me: Cool. Thanks for talking to me today, Yessir.

Pigeon: You bet. Gotta fly.

Me: Godspeed. And watch out for subpoenas!

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @RexHuppke and Facebook: