It takes real effort to be this awful, redux

IT TAKES REAL EFFORT TO BE THIS AWFUL, REDUX…. Anyone who’s seen Fox News’ Sean Hannity knows better than to expect honest broadcasts. But he has one habit that’s especially ridiculous, and far exceeds the more routine problems associated with his bizarre worldview.

A month ago, Hannity carefully edited a portion of President Obama’s speech in Cairo to make it sound like the president “decided to give 9/11 sympathizers a voice on the world stage,” when in reality, Obama had actually expressed a sentiment Hannity agreed with. It was news broadcasting at its worst and most offensive.

This week, Hannity did it again, editing comments Obama made in Russia to distort reality and offer Hannity another cheap, baseless shot.

It’s not just the president: “Over the past few years, Fox News host Sean Hannity has repeatedly smeared progressives and Democrats by cropping their comments in a way that misrepresented them.”

I can appreciate why this seems routine. “Hannity is a shameless hack, deliberately deceiving voters? You don’t say.”

But this seems different. Hannity spewing right-wing nonsense every night is just his standard m.o. Indeed, it’s what his audience expects and it’s what he’s paid handsomely to do.

Carefully editing quotes to remove context and misrepresent reality is altogether different. It’s just about the worst thing someone in media can do. Lazy media figures may plagiarize or fabricate, but Hannity’s habit takes real effort. It reflects someone who knows the truth, but is so desperate to mislead an audience, he’ll use his editing powers to make viewers believe what he wants them to believe, reality be damned.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.