Last month, Ted Koppel ran a story on CBS Sunday Morning about the political divide and polarization in America. Most of the story included clips from various points throughout history, and a small portion featured an interview with Sean Hannity.
The story was not a profile of Sean Hannity. Hannity’s comments were not the basis for the story. Yet between March 26th and 28th, Hannity tweeted and re-tweeted 23 times to complain that his interview was 45 minutes long and the portion CBS used was edited “unfairly.”
He even went so far as to run a special feature on his own show about “The Anatomy of EDITED Fake News." The ALL CAPS in the title was OMINOUS and THREATENING, and I was waiting for an intense breakdown of Koppel's piece explaining how and why it was FAKE. Instead, Hannity spent his time connecting random, factually-dubious dots to create a CBS-fake-news-conspiracy-theory tracing back through generations of newscasters. Of course, Koppel being a contributor for CBS for one year makes him culpable as the leader of the CBS-fake-news army, right?
It was painfully clear that there was no validity against anything Koppel did and Hannity was merely throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it would stick. But the act of dedicating an entire TV segment to attack Ted Koppel brings Hannity’s usual banter to a new low. Ted Koppel is a legend who paid his dues and demands respect, yet Hannity declared him "not a journalist." The irony of Hannity thinking he understands journalistic integrity (or journalism in general) is rich.
If Hannity understood journalism, he would know that interviewers give interviewees the basic idea of the piece, so Hannity knew it was not a profile and anything he said would be used merely as context.
If Hannity understood journalism, he would know the interviewee has no rights to the final published story, so CBS can edit however they wish. Unless Hannity sues CBS for defamation and a court mandates the release of the full interview (which is not a winnable case) CBS does not owe Hannity anything.
If Hannity understood journalism, he would know that editing is a necessary and standard practice. If it wasn’t, we would expect novelists to publish their first drafts and 20-minute segments on 60 Minutes would be 6 months long. Hannity’s definition of edited news being “fake” is incorrect and ridiculous.
Hannity’s final tweets on the subject were perhaps the most telling to his attitude:
“Hey John,” he responded to John Heilemann, “who called the election of 2016 correct? You told me @POTUS had ‘no shot’. And I am ‘bad for America’? This arrogance is laughable” Translation: I was right, you were wrong. Let me spit on the ground you walk on.
Followed with, “I'm so thankful to expose ‘Edited Fake News’. I don't give a sh/;()$& what any media people think of me.”
Translation: I don’t know how many characters to use to make up the s-word, so I’m just going to smack my keyboard for emphasis against those darn “media people.”
And of course, only a true journalist would put his punctuation outside his quotation marks.
Let’s all just be honest: no one noticed or cared that news pieces are edited until Hannity got his feelings hurt and cried to twitter about it. All he proved was despite his flippancy in assigning the term “angry snowflake” to others, he is the most appropriate definition of one.