In the hour-long love-in, pre-taped at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange is holed up, Hannity served up yet another uncritical, fluffy, and conciliatory Q&A with the WikiLeaks editor in chief. The hour-long special, billed as a Hannity “EXCLUSIVE” and “THE ASSANGE INTERVIEW,” was noteworthy only in the sense that its host miraculously managed to make zero news. (It’s a specialty of Hannity’s, particularly when in the service of Donald J. Trump.)
The interview was largely a retread of the comfortable, WikiLeaks-praising conversation the pair had on Hannity’s radio program last month: Hannity and Assange again both bashed the “very dishonest,” liberally biased “mainstream media.” The two again dinged Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, and repeated their claims that the Obama administration is actively trying to “delegitimize” a Trump presidency before it begins. And, perhaps most important, Hannity seized another opportunity to hand Assange a megaphone to deny that the source for the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta emails was the Russian government or its affiliated hackers.
“Can you say to the American people, unequivocally... a thousand percent, that you did not get it from Russia, or anyone associated with Russia?” Hannity inquired credulously.
Assange then said multiple times that the source was “not the Russian government and not a state party.”
Hannity (yet again!) praised WikiLeaks for being an organization that in “10 years, not one [example] of when you were proven wrong” has come to pass. Assange concurred that he and his organization have a “perfect record” in this respect. (Again, this was all practically taken verbatim from their last bromantic interview from last month.)
Regarding the Russia question, Hannity asked Assange, of President Obama: “Does he know he’s wrong, from your perspective?”
“He’s playing games, he’s playing games,” Assange replied.
“Who do you believe? Julian Assange or President Obama and Hillary Clinton?” Hannity asked—both on social media and on air—his viewers at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s episode.
During their last chat in December, Hannity told the WikiLeaks chief that “America owes you a debt of gratitude,” and that “we hope you come on [my TV show] soon.” And during Tuesday’s pre-taped dialogue, Hannity showed at least some self-awareness over just how bizarre it is that he’s morphed into an Assange cheerleader.
As the Fox host acknowledged during the episode, six years ago, he accused Assange of “waging war against the U.S.” by publishing secret diplomatic cables that Hannity said at the time put American lives in “jeopardy” and “danger” all over the world. Back then, the Fox News star was asking why the Obama administration hadn’t “arrested” Assange, wondering, why “we can stop pirating music and Hollywood movies, but we can’t stop this guy from stealing highly classified documents that puts people’s lives at risk?”
However, during the 2016 presidential election, when Assange became widely known as anti-Clinton, the unflaggingly pro-Trump Hannity had a fast change of heart. And thus Fox News, a cable news network that in years past has pumped out the most aggressive type of anti-Assange messaging, was itself transformed into a warm and affectionate public-relations platform for WikiLeaks and its staff.
And that newfound relationship shows only seems to be getting cozier.