Not part of the job, Sean

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

It is time for Fox News to part ways with Sean Han­nity.

Mr. Han­nity has re­peat­edly crossed the line con­cern­ing what jour­nal­ists should do. The most re­cent in­ci­dent was Mon­day night be­fore the elec­tion at a Don­ald Trump rally in Cape Gi­rardeau, Mo.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued him an in­vi­ta­tion to be a “spe­cial guest.” That should have been em­bar­rass­ing enough for Sean Han­nity. But when the pres­i­dent in­vited him to come up on stage, in­stead of re­spect­fully de­clin­ing, Mr. Han­nity took him up on the of­fer. Sean Han­nity went even fur­ther, call­ing out the me­dia in the back of the room as “fake news,” a fa­mil­iar re­frain from this ad­min­is­tra­tion.

This was not the first time for Sean Han­nity. Fox had to make him can­cel an ap­pear­ance at a Tea Party fundraiser in 2010. In 2016, he was again ad­mon­ished for ap­pear­ing in a Don­ald Trump cam­paign video and told never to do it again. Af­ter Mr. Han­nity‘s most re­cent par­ti­san dis­play in Cape Gi­rardeau, Fox again stated it did not con­done such be­hav­ior, al­though Mr. Han­nity was de­fend­ing it at the end of his show Wed­nes­day night.

De­pend­ing on the job po­si­tion of jour­nal­ists, they can have very dif­fer­ent re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Re­porters strive for im­par­tial­ity and ob­jec­tiv­ity when it comes to re­port­ing the facts. Opin­ion writ­ers as jour­nal­ists do not have to be ob­jec­tive, be­cause they of­fer opin­ion­ated thoughts about the news of the day. Both are im­por­tant. But it’s also im­por­tant to sep­a­rate news from opin­ion. Fox, as well as CNN and MSNBC, do a very poor job of sep­a­rat­ing the two. But all jour­nal­ists, whether re­porters or opin­ion writ­ers, should never be­come the story. Their job is to re­port the story, or of­fer opin­ions on the story, not to be the story. Good jour­nal­is­tic or­ga­ni­za­tions pro­hibit their jour­nal­ists from dis­play­ing po­lit­i­cal bumper stick­ers, yard signs, or mak­ing pub­lic state­ments in fa­vor of any po­lit­i­cal is­sue or can­di­dates.

But what about jour­nal­ists who deal only in opin­ions and not in de­liv­er­ing news? They too should be de­tached from the sub­jects they write about. Their cred­i­bil­ity, and that of the news or­ga­ni­za­tions where they work, in­creases with greater de­tach­ment. Jour­nal­ism and pol­i­tics both play im­por­tant roles in our democ­racy. But they are both en­hanced where there is a sharp line be­tween them.

Fox News and the na­tion would both be bet­ter off, too, by hav­ing Sean Han­nity pur­sue an­other field other than jour­nal­ism. Like maybe go­ing to work for and be­ing a spokesman for Don­ald Trump—not on a news chan­nel, but in his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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