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Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Hannity snubbed for man of the year, but named liar of the year

Posted by James McPherson on December 19, 2008

I tend to pay less attention to Sean Hannity than to Bill O’Reilly or Ann Coulter, in large part because I have trouble believing that anyone really pays any attention to Hannity.

Mind you, I don’t understand why anyone listens to O’Reilly or Coulter, either, but since they are regular guests on the so-called “liberal media” I have to assume that they do have some sort of deluded following. I occasionally check in on all of them because it’s my job as a media scholar–kind of like a doctor who has to occasionally check a patient for prostate cancer.

Still, even Hannity gets more attention than he deserves. I noted pretty much in passing in my last book that he was a liar, but this week Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group, named him its “Misinformer of the Year.”

Even if you consider the source of the “award,” however, that doesn’t explain Hannity’s actions later that same night, when he suggested that Time magazine had named Barack Obama its “Person of the Year” so that a writer for the magazine would get a job in the Obama administration.

Hannity’s report begins: “So as 2008 comes to a close, Time Magazine picks its Person of the Year, and to no one’s surprise, Time has chosen President-elect Barack Obama to grace the cover. This honor comes as the magazine’s Washington bureau chief, Jay Carney, leaves his post to become Joe Biden’s director of communication.”

When Fox News personality Kirsten Powers noted the obvious, that there was “no connection” and that Obama “would have been Man of the Year anyway,” Hannity offered this gem: “You know what? There have been a lot of great people over the years. I know this burst Obama of the ‘yes, we can’ chanting, Obama mania media, but there are other good leaders in the world besides a man who’s done nothing so far.”

Powers, no doubt used to Hannity’s unique combination of bluster and ignorance, did not embarrass him by asking which of those “good leaders” he thought Time should have picked.

Incidentally I agree that the mainstream media love Obama too much–but this year was there any other choice? And for the record,  Time has named a just-elected president more often than not every four years since 1964 (Lyndon Johnson), also tabbing Richard Nixon (shared with Henry Kissinger), Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004. Apparently Time editors were as amazed as I was that Bush won twice.

Time also named Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and  Harry Truman in 1948, while picking John F. Kennedy 1961 because of his 1960 win. Presidents or future presidents named in non-election years were FDR (twice more), Dwight D. Eisenhower (twice), Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan (with Yuri Andropov), George H. W. Bush and Clinton (with Kenneth Starr). See all the “Person of the Year” covers here.

This year’s the runners-up were Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, French President Nicolas Sarkozy (also president of the European Union), Sarah Palin (if she had won, I’ll bet Hannity wouldn’t say she’d “done nothing”), and Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who produced the opening ceremony for the Olympics. Apparently, using Hannity’s logic, Jay Carney didn’t want a job in the EU or in the Chinese film industry.

Of course Hannity is right, in one respect: So far, Obama has “done nothing”: at least not much of anything other than coming from nowhere to inspire huge worldwide crowds, and then beating Hillary Clinton and the Republican Party to become the first African American to win the presidency.

On the other hand, Obama hasn’t cured cancer, stopped the Iraq War or saved the economy–or figured out a way to get Hannity to shut up.

10 Responses to “Hannity snubbed for man of the year, but named liar of the year”

  1. vaughn said

    Anyone who was surprised at the choosing is a fool. TIME has a history of selecting just about any presidential winner to be the man of the year. Bush’s 2004 reelection got him on the cover.

    As for Obama getting on more TIME covers, I am not so sure. But he’s out to a good start. It might happened that way because he was a fresh face on the arena, not because they loved him. It is much harder to write a new angle about McCain or Bush these days.

    Plus, Obama did shattered just about every election record but winning a by Reagan-esque landslide.

    Vauighn, Memo to Self

  2. I vaguely recall that Time once named Hitler the man of the year … being selected by Time ain’t much of a thing to the point of making Obama just come out and say: “Wow … I’m Time’s Man Of The Year … and now I’m gracefyully side by side with Dolfie Hitler” …

  3. James McPherson said

    Yes, previous “winners” have included Hitler (1938), Joseph Stalin (1939 and 1942), Nikita Krushchev ((1957), Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal (1974), Deng Xiaoping (1978 and 1985), the Ayatulla Khomeini (1979), Mikhael Gorbachev (1987 and 1989) and Vladamir Putin (2007).

  4. What does the inevitability of Obama being named “man of the year” have to do with Hannity? Nothing at all, other than to give this McPherson person an opportunity to vent against Republicans. the truth is that Obama is going to find governing one heck of a lot more difficult than running for president, impressing swooning crowds, and pandering to every liberal interest group under the sun.

    Even with the help of his pals in the media, he is in for the shock of his life.

  5. James McPherson said

    Venting aside, you’ll also notice (though maybe I buried the lead too much) that the reason for this post was because of Hannity’s weird comment in reaction to Time’s choice of Obama (a choice that I agree was pretty much inevitable). Thanks for the comments, all.

  6. Luis Lopez said

    As Jim already noted, Time has profiled a number of subjects that are indeed controversial. Just to emphasize, Time magazine notes that the designation itself: “features and profiles a man, woman, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year.”

    But, going back to Jim’s main point, I do agree with the whole notion that Hannity bloviates just for the sake of bloviating. It’s a shame that a bulwark of major conservative commentators, like Hannity, are scraping the bottom of the barrel in regards to criticizing Obama.

    Going off of that point, for Hannity to insinuate that Obama bribed Time to get it’s “Person of the Year” designation is just silly. It seems to me that Hannity is just plain bitter over the fact that his smearing of Obama in the lead up to the election just didn’t work this time around. And I am certain that if John McCain had won the election, and got the “Person of the Year” designation by Time, he wouldn’t utter a solitary complaint.

  7. Gabrielle said

    “McPherson person.” Haha. I like it.

    Also, yes. Hannity….*pregnant pause*…’nuff said.

  8. I agree Obama deserves to be the person of the year. I didn’t vote for him, but I can’t argue with the reality that his election is historically noteworthy.

    But Obama will need to do more than simply run an efficient campaign and win an election to persuade me to support him. After all, George W. Bush was a very good campaigner. And in the wake of 9/11, George W. Bush was also extremely popular. Popularity and campaign winning are fleeting things. It’s governance that matters. And we are about to find out just how good Obama is at that.

    As yet, we don’t have much to base expectations on b/c Obama has never governed from an executive position over any substantial private or public body before.

  9. […] how?” and I immediately think of the pain in my temples caused by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews and Lou […]

  10. […] most Americans don’t care if the media zombies disappear. Those who listen to talk radio or Fox News may even cheer the deaths–failing to recognize that those zombies may be all that stands […]

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