Seth Abramson @SethAbramson Attorney. @Newsweek columnist. NYT bestselling author of a book on Trump's Iran policy, Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, amzn.to/2sQBWYL). Professor. Jan. 09, 2020 2 min read

Would you believe there was a moment when I saw this in which I literally said *out loud*, "No—not Frank Luntz [posting fake news]!" And then I caught myself and actually laughed because this is *exactly* what I expect from Frank Luntz. These people literally can't or won't read.

Literally *no one* is "blaming Trump" or "claiming [X]" or "theorizing that [X]." There are a few troubling facts out there about *Hannity* that could add up to *nothing*. But there were/are enough facts—it's unquestionable—to think media should look into it briefly. That's *it*.

The GOP playbook—*specifically* on *crime* (any type of crime, anywhere)—has been, since the Southern Strategy, to rely on anecdotes, not data, to score points. The same ploy is used on Twitter: take a tweet, see if it can be twisted/decontextualized, then press "outrage" button.

Luntz doesn't think I "blame Trump" for the deaths of 176 innocents—nor does the Daily Caller. But they're *pretty* sure they've seeded the field sufficiently re: how insane (🤪) progressives are to get their *readers* to think so. It'd just be sad if it wasn't killing discourse.

How Trump handles nonpublic ops info has been a *mainstream* issue for 3 years. So has him using Hannity as a daily adviser. *No one* disputes that Hannity lost it on-air predicting imminent airstrikes. And US officials say an Iranian battery wrongly thought they were facing one.

This was a chance for us to have important, sober talks about 1) how Trump handles intel; 2) who he speaks to about it; 3) how the right is handling Trump's march to war; 4) where folks get their news in times of crisis; 5) the need to dial back the rhetoric. But no—we get Luntz.

Asking military experts if Iran would monitor a top Trump adviser who's on-air during a possible airstrike isn't unreasonable. Asking Hannity where he got nonpublic intel isn't unreasonable. But if the questions have solid answers, fine! Issue *over*. But it's called journalism.

Worst of all, this sort of thing discourages the asking of sincere questions and the airing of real concerns about our rhetoric and who hears it. Wild accusations stated as truth? Yes—discourage them. Mock them, I say. But don't kill reasoned earnest inquiry in our public sphere.

Last one in this thread—if you don't think alt-right trolls wait until a guy like Luntz levels false accusations like this and then go online posing as liberals accusing Trump of murder, you haven't spent the horrid hours in 4chan researching post-internet cultural theory I have.


You can follow @SethAbramson.



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