Fox News host Sean Hannity sided with the Freedom Caucus on Thursday in its feud with President Trump, saying he didn’t think the conservative lawmakers were at fault for last week's failure of the GOP healthcare bill.It's very mild criticism. But it's unexpected. Or is it?
“Now, in my opinion, it’s not the Freedom Caucus that's responsible for the GOP failure in this case to repeal and replace ObamaCare,” Hannity, a vocal supporter of Trump, said on his prime-time program.
“Now, this legislation was flawed from the beginning. It was created behind closed doors. Not one single member saw the bill until it was rolled out. And that made it a disaster,” he said.
... In rare criticism of the president, Hannity said that Trump's anger was “misplaced.”
“Now I don't know who's telling the White House to focus their anger on the Freedom Caucus, but I do think it's misplaced," Hannity said. "Because the Freedom Caucus, I've talked to them, they want to make a deal, and they want the win for the president and the country.”
On further reflection, I'd say we should have seen this coming. The important thing for Hannity -- and Fox in general -- is to stay in sync with whatever its audience believes True Conservatism is at any given moment, and to hate whatever the audience hates. Fox's audience hates Obamacare with the fury of a thousand suns. If Fox's audience could beat Obamacare to death and then burn the corpse while urinating on it, that's what would happen.
The Ryan/Trumpcare bill was way too much like Obamacare for True Conservatives' tastes. Even Trump's imprimatur couldn't change his fans' minds. So rejecting it is a shrewd move for Hannity.
Now, here's the thing: If Donald Trump thinks he can salvage his presidency by turning his back on the ultras in his party while making deals with Democrats and Republican centrists, the right-wing media is going to turn against him -- even Sean Hannity. A serious infrastructure plan? Big government! Shoring up Obamacare? Socialism!
Donald Trump was the embodiment of all that is good, in the eyes of the Fox audience -- until, in that audience's eyes, he showed inadequate hatred for Obamacare. Sean Hannity is too much of an opportunist not to see that.