Donald Trump doesn’t have much of a campaign. In the handful of states that will determine the election — Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia — Trump has few staffers on the ground and no campaign ads on the air. The Republican National Committee, which has been providing what exists of the Trump campaign apparatus, is under pressure to pull the plug.
Donald Trump doesn’t have much of a campaign, but he does have Sean Hannity.
For more than a year, Hannity has largely devoted his show to shameless Trump boosterism. He has interviewed Trump dozens of time, showering him with praise and never once making news.
Hannity said it was his New Year’s resolution to make sure Trump, or whoever won the Republican nomination, wins the presidency.
It is often very difficult to tell where the Trump campaign ends and Hannity’s show begins:
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 14, 2016
Trump has spent the last week suggesting that Hillary Clinton could be assassinated, repeatedly proclaiming that Barack Obama founded ISIS and preemptively declaring the outcome of the election “rigged.”
What happens when the candidate that you’ve devoted your primetime television show to goes completely off the rails?
Hannity followed Trump’s lead.
Day 1: Hosts two infamous Islamophobes to smear gold star father Khizr Khan
On the first day, Hannity attacked the military.
Khan’s son Humayun was a captain in the U.S. Army who was killed in the line of duty in Iraq. Khizr Khan’s crime was to speak at the Democratic National Convention and criticize Trump for his bigotry against Muslims, including his plan to ban Muslim immigrants from the U.S.
Hannity invited Sebastian Gorka and Robert Spencer, two of the America’s most infamous Islamophobes, to smear the gold star father.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) August 9, 2016
Khan was attacked by an online conspiracy theorist as an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood based on a scholarly article he wrote on the subject of Islamic law. When that baseless attack unraveled, Hannity and his guests were left struggling to find ways to attack Khan anyway.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 9, 2016
Hannity asked Spencer if Khan was “hiding his real views.”
“I can’t search his soul, but I do think that it’s very, very strange that he makes these kinds of statements that don’t comport with what he said earlier,” Spencer replied.
Day 2: Convenes panel of “medical experts” to discuss whether Hillary Clinton has an undisclosed medical condition
On the second day, Hannity suggested Hillary Clinton was brain-damaged.
On Monday, Hannity hosted Dr. Daniel Kassicieh and Dr. Marc Seigel, members of the “Fox News Medical A-Team,” to wildly speculate on Hillary Clinton’s health.
HANNITY: Daniel, let me start with you. Doctor, let me ask you, what do you see in her condition and some of these images where she keeps getting flustered or the coughing fits or you hear about the blood clots. What is your interpretation?
DR. DANIEL KASSICIEH: My concern is going back to her concussion when she fell back in December of 2012 and she had a reported blood clot. The blood clot cleared up quickly with the blood thinners, but Bill Clinton actually reported that it took six months of hard work for Hillary to recover from her head injury.
HANNITY: Is it possible she had a stroke, or do you really believe it was a head injury, traumatic brain injury?
KASSICIEH: I believe that she had a concussion with a possible brain injury. Of course, I haven’t seen medical records, but the blood clot once it cleared up was no longer an issue. It was the latent effects of the concussion that I would be concerned about.
HANNITY: By the way, I’m glad you’re a headache expert because any time she or any liberal speaks, I get a headache. Dr. Siegel?
DR. MARC SIEGEL, FOX NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sean, this is a year when we’re looking into the long term effects of concussions and we’re finding that we’re underestimating this, that someone who has a severe blow to the head can have affects later on that even an MRI doesn’t show. So at the very least I want to see her medical records.
Day 3: Defends Trump’s suggestion that “Second Amendment people” could assassinate Hillary
On the third day, Hannity justified promoting assassination.
Hannity brought back more doctors to suggest that Hillary Clinton had a brain injury. But Hannity proved he’s capable of tackling multiple issues at once, also offering a spirited defense of Trump’s suggestion that Hillary Clinton could be assassinated by gun rights advocates upset with her selections for the Supreme Court.
Hannity brought on Rudy Giuliani to defend these comments as totally appropriate and normal.
HANNITY: What do you make of the media in this election cycle? For example, Donald Trump was talking about people that value the Second Amendment, that they be able to do something in terms of voting.
GIULIANI: Sean, that whole thing on the Second Amendment, I was there. I watched the speech. It was 1,000 percent clear exactly what Donald Trump — What Donald Trump meant was, very simply, you have the power, the political power, because of your strong belief in the Second Amendment to make changes necessary. That is what he is talking about. There is no doubt about it. If you go look at the tape and you look at the reaction of the audience, you can see that.
And this is exactly what I’ve been talking about and what Donald Trump has been talking about. This is why the system is rigged. The Clinton people take those words, they spin them. And then they have a whole bunch of acolytes out there, and then the acolytes make a story that doesn’t exist.
Day 4: Defends Trump’s claim that Obama and Hillary founded ISIS
On the fourth day, Sean Hannity brought on more doctors, including former candidate Dr. Ben Carson, to suggest that Hillary Clinton was brain-damaged and covering it up. (Carson helpfully suggested that Clinton undergo a “mental examination” and make the results public.)
But Hannity also stayed current, finding time to back up Trump’s outrageous suggestion that Obama (with an assist from Clinton) “founded ISIS.”
Hannity teamed up with Oliver North, who was indicted for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, to make the case.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) August 12, 2016
What would North conclude? Oh, the suspense.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) August 12, 2016
Of course, North and Hannity skipped over the real point of Trump’s attack — to suggest that Obama has a secret allegiance. More than two-thirds of Trump supporters believe Obama is actually a Muslim.
Day 5: Touting Trump’s stamina
On the fifth day, Hannity rested.
Mike Huckabee filled in and interviewed Trump himself.
It was Trump’s second appearance on Hannity that week. (Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence also appeared.)
HUCKABEE: In the interests of full disclosure, I think I’ve got to tell people that I’ve been out campaigning with you for the past couple of days. So it’s not like I’m objective. I’m not pretending or even playing the role of a journalist.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, that’s good. I like that.
HUCKABEE: Your stamina is pretty amazing. You’re doing events starting early in the morning. Wednesday night, we didn’t finish dinner until well after midnight. And I’ve watched you through this process. Where do you get that stamina to do this?
I think Hannity would have approved.