Fox News host Sean Hannity has removed a tweet endorsing a crazy conspiracy theory about Barack Obama’s recently unveiled official portrait.
“Obama’s portrait – a stark contrast to predecessors with inappropriate sexual innuendo,” the official Hannity account tweeted along with a full article and pictures of presidential portraits.
The article, also now deleted, claimed that the Obama portrait featured “SECRET SPERM” (all caps, scream it!) and that the artist Kehinde Wiley “Joked About Killing Whitey”.
According to The Daily Beast, the sperm theory comes from a 2008 New York Times article in which Wiley said he paints African-American men against backgrounds that have patterns resembling sperm.
Team Hannity took this idea and, with the encouragement of 4chan, did a classic “Enhance” on the Obama portrait. Here is what they found. Is that sperm? Or a forehead vein? You be the judge!
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) February 13, 2018
The Daily Beast went on to report that the “Kill Whitey” part comes from paintings Wiley did of black women holding the severed heads of a white women.
One of Wiley’s main themes is to take African Americans and insert them into paintings typically dominated by white people. In this case, he was putting a black person into a Caravaggio-style painting.
Normal people would call that art, but those on the right have been screeching that this is an attack on “Whitey” and indicative of something more sinister.
Why exactly did Barack Obama choose Kehinde Wiley to paint his presidential portrait? Kehinde Wiley has a habit of painting black people holding knives and the freshly severed heads of white people. Sick! pic.twitter.com/bpjVqahkkD
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) February 12, 2018
After deleting the tweet and article, Hannity told The Daily Beast that the content was posted by staff and did not reflect Hannity’s “voice and message” and was therefore taken down.
But it isn’t surprising to see Hannity come up with this kind of thing. Vox recently did a comprehensive content analysis of Hannity’s work and found that he is a repeat offender when it comes to promoting conspiracies.
Vox found a big overlap between the right-wing theories found on Reddit’s r/conspiracies and the content of Hannity’s show. Favorite topics include the Clintons (uranium deal and collusion with Russia, the murder of Seth Rich, the rigging of the primaries), and the so-called Deep State, which is the idea that there is a secret cabal pulling the strings of the US government.
This would be fine if Hannity was some ragged street corner Jesus screaming into the void. But the scary truth is he is the number one host on America’s most popular cable news network. What’s even worse is that Hannity has one very big and important fan: Donald Trump.
Will be another Sean success! https://t.co/SlNTENvJLA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2017
To recap: Nuts and Trolls on 4chan/Reddit cook up crazy ideas that are read by Hannity and his staff. Hannity blabs about the theories on his show, which Trump then watches and integrates into his policies and worldview.
Conclusion: Trolls, not the Deep State, are running America.
Prognosis: Bad, very, bad.