Fox News host Sean Hannity was recently embarrassed by his support of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who decided not to pay his grazing fees for twenty years and then tried to start a ‘range war’ when federal authorities started removing his trespassing cattle from public lands. Hannity was forced to deny Bundy after the welfare cattleman made public statements fondly recalling the days of slavery, leading observers to wonder how he and so many of his fellow conservative voices failed to notice that Bundy was tied to the racist ‘sovereign citizen’ movement. But as Mark Karlin reminds us at BuzzFlash, this is not the first time Sean Hannity has gotten cozy with a white supremacist only to deny knowing them when they get exposed.
Several years ago, BuzzFlash noted that while Hannity was daily trying to make Obama into a black panther radical during the 2008 election campaign, the author Max Blumenthal had charged Hannity with being quite cozy with neo-Nazi Hal Turner when Hannity was starting out as a right-wing radio talk show host.
We wrote about these charges and evidence to seemingly back them up on BuzzFlash at the time, but due to a server move, those commentaries are not currently available.
However, an indispensible web site, “News Hounds: We watch Fox so you don’t have to,” reported on the allegations in a March 23, 2008, entry, “Neo Nazi/White Supremacist Hal Turner Confirms Friendship And Kinship With Sean Hannity”:
Earlier in the week, Sean Hannity denied, albeit in contradictory terms, ever having a relationship with neo Nazi/white supremacist Hal Turner. <a ” href=”http://www.newshounds.us/2008/03/20/hannity_denies_past_association_with_white_supremacist_but_evidence_suggests_otherwise.php”>As I posted the night Hannity was confronted about Turner, the evidence conflicts with Hannity’s claims. Now Turner has confirmed their friendship and their sympatico views in a blog post called, “About Sean Hannity and Me. . . . . Yes, we were friends and yes, Sean agreed with some of my views.”
Blumenthal wrote a 2005 article in The Nation, “Hannity’s Soul-Mate of Hate”:
On WABC Hannity inherited Grant’s fan base of angry white males, who listened to his show in the New York City area. Hannity recognized his audience’s thirst for red meat, racist rhetoric. However, he knew that if he wanted to avoid Grant’s fate, he needed an air of deniability. When “Hal from North Bergen” began calling his show, Hannity found he could avoid the dangers of direct race-baiting by simply outsourcing it to Turner.
During an August 1998 episode of the show, Turner reminded Hannity that were it not for the graciousness of the white man, “black people would still be swinging on trees in Africa,” according to Daryle Jenkins, co-founder of the New Jersey-based antiracism group One People’s Project. Instead of rebuking Turner or cutting him off, Hannity continued to welcome his calls. On December 10 of the following year, Turner called Hannity’s show to announce his campaign to run for a seat in the US House of Representatives from New Jersey, and to attack his presumptive opponent, Democratic Representative Robert Menendez, as a “left-wing nut.”
Turner claimed that “Sean and I spoke regularly off the air about our kids, politics and news of the day. My on-air calls to his show remained regular and welcome.”
Hannity has denied knowing Turner, but has left a lot of questions unanswered about Turner’s assertions as to their relationship.
Hal Turner is one of America’s best-known white supremacists. Convicted in 2010 of threatening federal judges, he was an early target of the Anonymous hacking collective, which accessed his email and discovered that Turner was a paid FBI informant, essentially destroying his career as a white supremacist leader. If we take him at his word, Sean Hannity is the most naive and blinkered person on Fox News. But Hannity’s claims of ignorance are far more likely the hollow protests of a man who has spent the last twenty years trying to mainstream fringe views like Bundy’s.
Video: Anonymous vs. Hal Turner, from the documentary We Are Legion.