A sneering group of MSNBC hosts and analysts on Thursday berated Sean Hannity for his "mindless" anti-government attitude, mocking him as "pathetic." The Fox News host gave an interview to Playboy magazine in which he dismissed much of the federal government as "dysfunctional." Ex-Newsweek editor Howard Fineman, who has bragged about "steering clear of partisanship," slammed Hannity for having a "deliberate lack of self-awareness [that] is just stunning."
Speaking of the federal government, Fineman continued, "One of the reasons why the system is so dysfunctional is because of the mindlessly accusatory nature of what he...what they [conservatives] do." The journalist, who has prided himself on "keeping an even keel ideologically," accused Hannity of being "an enthusiastically, vigorous user of that style of rhetoric and politics and it's one of the main reasons why things aren't working." Fineman exhorted viewers, "Wake up! Wake up!" [MP3 audio here.]
Time columnist Joe Klein excoriated Hannity: "There are an awful lot of scared people out there in this country right now. He preys on them, just as Rush does and the others. He's shameless."
Perhaps one reason the MSNBC crew had such anger for the Fox News host is that in the Playboy interview, Hannity mocked MSNBC's low ratings.
A transcript of the June 20 segment is below:
ALEX WAGNER: What do Donna Summer, Braveheart, the Grateful Dead, Angelina Jolie, meditation and the Passion of the Christ have in common? They're all a few of Sean Hannity's favorite things. In an interview with Playboy this month, Hannity talks politics, pot smoking and Obama the Muslim. Joy, because we never tire of talking about how people are convinced President Obama is a Muslim.
JOY REID: That's right.
WAGNER: Hannity plays playboy, "Obama did grow up in Kenya and he told the New York Times he went to a school there and one of the beautiful things on the planet is Islamic prayer at at sunset. He went to a Muslim school in Indonesia or wherever it was. Kenya. I forget. Now you've got me. I think it was Indonesia." The problem with this is it's still in the water supply.
REID: Not only that, but he's got no geography education in, like, school because–
WAGNER: Indonesia, Kenya. Whatever. It's pathetic.
REID: Indonesia, Kenya.
JOE KLEIN: Television should be an educational tool. Let me say to Sean, Indonesia is Asia. It's just off of Asia. It's an archipelago of a lot of different islands.
WAGNER: Do we have a map?
KLEIN: And Kenya is in Africa, so they're, you know, very, very far apart and very, very different cultures.
HOWARD FINEMAN: I think you lost him– You lost him at archipelago.
KLEIN: A bunch of islands.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: He doesn't read the articles, so he's not going to read the maps. He's looking for other pictures.
WAGNER: Oooh! Going there. Playboy. I do know just because someone thinks, Howard, that Islamic prayer is beautiful at sunset doesn't actually mean they're a Muslim.
FINEMAN: No. I mean– There are many things that strike me about this. One of them is he says, "I don't know why people put faith in government. The system is dysfunctional. It doesn't work." That's like somebody saying, you know, "this bicycle that I just stuck a, a, a--"
WAGNER: Twig in the spokes of.
FINEMAN: "Twig in the spokes of won't go anywhere." I mean, the lack of sort of self-awareness, deliberate lack of self-awareness is just stunning. One of the reasons why the system is so dysfunctional is because of the mindlessly accusatory nature of what he--
WAGNER: People like Sean Hannity!
FINEMAN: --what they do. What they do. Listen, nobody is innocent in all this, I will grant that. But he is a, for better or worse, he's an enthusiastically, vigorous user of that style of rhetoric and politics, and it's one of the main reasons why things aren't working. Wake up! Wake up!
KLEIN: The reason for it. The reason is there's an audience for it.
FINEMAN: Of course. I know that.
KLEIN: There are an awful lot of scared people out there in this country right now. He preys on them, just as Rush does and the others. He's shameless.
-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.