I should start with the caveat that much of “conservative media” isn’t very conservative, and we need to find a new term for these meat sacks filled with rage whose only goal in life is to stoke fear and confusion in order to put more dollars in their pocket. Sean Hannity is the textbook definition of a con artist, save for the fact that he doesn’t actually give you anything other than high blood pressure. In the wake of the Wikileaks Vault 7 dump from the CIA, a new conspiracy theory has taken root amongst the far right and the #MAGA crowd that makes absolutely no sense on any level that’s remotely tied to reality.
Got that folks? The CIA posed as Russia to hack the DNC and to connect Donald Trump and his associates to the Kremlin, all in order to swing an election towards…um…well, Hillary Clinton…who put CIA lives at risk by storing highly classified information on a very accessible private server…but they didn't start leaking the most damning information until after the election in order to…well…um…you see…um…WIKILEAKS!!!!
Hannity hasn't always slurped at the fountain of Kremlin intelligence's favorite laundromat, as he said back in 2010:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will make an appearance before a British judge tomorrow. Now the appearance is related to sexual assault charges that he's facing in Sweden. Now this news comes just as there's word that Assange is apparently not done waging his war against the U.S., at least not yet.
Revealing their identities, helping us and cooperating with us in our battle against the Taliban. These are real lives that are now in jeopardy and in danger. That was step one.
Then 390,000 other documents were released. Many of them classified documents. And now we have this. What is—why? Why didn't they go after this guy and why didn't they arrest him? Why didn't they stop this from being published when we had so much time to do it?
Why can't Obama do something about the WikiLeaks? We got this four months ago. You know, we can stop pirating a music and Hollywood movies, but we can't stop this guy from stealing highly classified documents that puts people's lives at risk?
Hannity's caveman logic is now exposed for all to see. When Wikileaks is putting American soldiers in danger on a Democratic president's watch, it's a national shame that the perpetrators aren't arrested (and his rant from 2010 is 100% correct). But when Wikileaks is putting American soldiers in danger on a “Republican” president's watch—all while providing cover for that president to deny the avalanche of reports suggesting that he has an uncomfortably cozy relationship with the Kremlin—they're doing God's work, and the CIA are the baddies.
Hannity interviewed retired Army Lietenant Colonel Anthony Schaffer, who is an avowed conspiracy theorist and 9/11 truther, on his radio show on Wednesday, and Shaffer made a claim that perfectly encapsulates the fraudulence of this segment of “conservative” media.
“Sean, we did it. Not me, but our guys, former members of NSA, retired intelligence officers used these tools to break in there and get the information out. That's what the Democrats don't want to talk about because it doesn't fit their narrative.
“You're telling me this whole Russian story that the media has been running with for months and months and months—that it was our people that did it, and they put the fingerprints of the Russians on it?”
Shaffer shot back:
Hannity then remembered at one point in a previous life that he did qualify as a quasi-journalist, and asked:
“Do you have proof of that?”
Shaffer then stuck the cherry on top of this entire exchange that sounded like it took place inside four padded walls:
“I don't have proof of that.”
This is the playbook of “conservative” media. Make an explosive claim with absolute certainty, then drop a silent “but it's not confirmed” at the end to maintain the facade of journalistic integrity. Bill Mitchell demonstrated the next stage of this fraudulence to Business Insider when he told them:
“I consider the idea the CIA faked Russian evidence to be MORE plausible than a sophisticated state-sponsor of cyber-warfare using an off the shelf and easily detected dimestore hack, don't you? The whole concept of 'evidence' can be misleading. Clearly, if the CIA did this, they would be careful not to leave “evidence.” Regardless, thoughtful men could look at the facts we do know and consider their 'planting drugs in Russia's trunk' on the DNC hack to be plausible.”
Step 1: Say crazy thing.
Step 2: Quietly admit there is no proof for crazy thing.
Step 3: Rant about how “logic” clearly dictates that said crazy thing isn't crazy, and therefore, evidence is not even necessary.
Step 4: Profit off of angry and uninformed listeners.
There's really no way to describe what grifters like Hannity, Mitchell and Coulter are doing as anything other than traitorous. They're saying that they believe a foreign adversary's story more than our own government's. Now, our government clearly lies to us all the time, but acting like the Kremlin is a paragon of virtue by comparison is patently insane. And make no mistake about it, the vile bullshit peddled by these commentators is a carbon copy of what Kremlin bots perpetuate all over the web.
At best, these “conservative” commentators are being naive. At worst, they’re Kremlin agents, and there’s really no in-between because regardless of their intention, the end-result is that the Coulter’s, Hannity’s and Mitchell’s of the world are acting as useful idiots for the FSB. The fact that this unrelated talking point has come out of the CIA hack is some of the most convincing evidence yet that there really may be something to this Trump-Russia connection. Wikileaks claimed that the encrypted apps which government leakers use to communicate with the media are compromised, despite not providing a shred of evidence for it. The data dump also created this bogus narrative that the CIA is framing Russia, and then simpletons like Hannity essentially allege that Kremlin cutouts are more patriotic than the CIA.
These “conservative” grifters may sleep well in their million-dollar homes built on the suffering and confusion of their listeners, but history has a much keener eye, and future generations will no doubt look back on this moment and decide that these con artists were either some of the dumbest people alive, or were consciously working to delegitimize their own government. For the sake of their future descendants, they better hope that it’s the former. Stupidity is a feature of humanity, betrayal is a bug.
Jacob Weindling is Paste’s business and media editor, as well as a staff writer for politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.