It’s no secret that “Fox News” hit a bit of an unenviable snag recently when a Senate review of America’s interrogation techniques during the Bush administration revealed wide-spread, systematic use of horrific acts of torture. Tasked with somehow supporting former president George W. Bush through the ugly details, the network dove head first into not just apologizing for, but justifying, the use of torture by his administration.
While the whole “Fox News” family really pulled together on this one and pushed their pro-torture message in unison, there was one standout who really managed to take the “torture isn’t wrong” message to the next level.
Nobody does shameless right-wing pandering better than Sean Hannity, so the conservative pundit has been working overtime to pretend that he is totally cool with the findings of the Senate torture report. Apparently, spindoctoring the Bush war crimes didn’t stop at the end of his broadcast, though, because on December 10, he gleefully spent the night tweeting visual reminders of why America had to inflict pain on terror suspects — extremely graphic, sickening visual reminders.
First, Hannity retweeted one of his fans tweets which featured the Twin Towers at the moment of impact on 9/11. Then he tweeted it again.
— Paul Clarke (@PClarke316) December 11, 2014
Concluding that wasn’t enough, Hannity then decided to show “liberals” what real torture was by retweeting an image of journalist James Foley’s body after ISIS decapitated him. Foley’s family has been vocal about people not using images of his murder to push petty political agendas but hey, Hannity doesn’t see the problem with it.
Thinking that wasn’t enough vileness for one night, Hannity tweeted a picture of some dead and dismembered children. To the photo, he added a list of acts of terrorism committed against the United States which he believed justified torture. Again, we censored the photos out of respect. Hannity did no such thing.
— Stevie C (@StevieCbaby) December 11, 2014
— Matt (@yetdizzle) December 11, 2014
— Master Muppet ™ (@rblotnicky) December 11, 2014
By morning, Hannity had deleted the tweet featuring Foley’s dead body, but — oddly — decided to keep the one with the mutilated dead children.
The cognitive dissonance required to pretend torturing people is something a civilized, moral society does is severe. As such, Hannity has apparently lost all ability to differentiate between the kinds of right-wing pandering he does so well and the tasteless manipulation of horrific images to push an agenda so heartless that it requires the suspension of all levels of compassion.
As crazy as it sounds, what Hannity advocates is the type of “our side vs. their side” tribalism that means anything goes as long as the people doing it believe the ends justify the means. This mirrors what Dick Cheney, one of the architects and cheerleaders of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, said explicitly on Fox News:
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Sir, did the ends justify the means?
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Absolutely.
BRET BAIER: No doubt in your mind?
DICK CHENEY: No doubt in my mind, I’m totally comfortable with it.
Even that morally dubious position is meaningless in the wake of what we now know about the CIA’s torture program: It didn’t work. The entire premise that Hannity has clung to is predicated on the idea that torturing people saved countless lives, or averted another 9/11, or helped find bin Laden. It did none of those things. It caused many people to suffer. It caused many innocent people to suffer. It made the United States look hypocritical and barbaric. It made the Bush administration look like monsters. It didn’t help us fight the War on Terror.
Nor will Hannity’s idiotic tweets help win the argument that torture is good. They just make him look like the worst person on Fox — and that’s saying something.