Sean Hannity is Donald Trump's Billy Mays

I asked Hollett what infomercials look for in a pitchman, specifically one selling with a celebrity co-host for a celebrity product. She told me: “When you’re picking a pitch person, a la Hannity, you need someone the audience will trust, will like, but won’t be too distracted by. Your celebrity host, Trump, needs to stand out. The other thing you want in a pitchman is a sure thing, so if your celebrity can’t get the words out or doesn’t hit the right sales notes, you have a qualified translator of sorts. Someone who is close to everyman, but just slightly better.”

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Hannity fits this description to a T. And if he wants to do 40-minute ads for Trump, that’s his business. The problem arises when he, Fox News, or anyone else pretends this is somehow a news program. It is not. In fact, it is almost the opposite of one. News is meant to probe and challenge. Hannity does neither. Instead, he shields his product from criticism and lays his own reputation on the line assuring us his product works.

This Tuesday and Wednesday Hannity will air another two-hour “town hall” with Trump, this time on securing the border. It will be more of the same. He has already announced we will hear from victims, experts and law enforcement, with no mention of audience questions. Why not? There is a reason there are so many infomercials on the air: they work, even when people know it’s advertising. In this case, however, many don’t. Many think they are watching a serious news program.

Even if Trump loses in November, this bastardization of journalistic standards is a legacy we will be left with. It is not a trivial matter. It is a distortion of discourse that promises to divide us and make finding real solutions even more difficult. It must be made very clear that Sean Hannity has left journalism behind and embraced his new role as pitchman and propagandist for Donald Trump.

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