We were discussing the fallout of Sean Hannity's involvement with the Tea Party movement. The fact is, it wasn't really a "movement" until he got involved, so is what he's done ethical. In other words, if he is playing the role of a responsible journalist, is being the cause for a rally to gain attention and, ultimately, influence, stepping over the bounds of the journalist's job?
It seemed that the class all agreed that Hannity had, in fact, overstepped his role, if he were, in fact, a journalist. But, his stance within the world of news is shaky. The role he plays is neither reporter, nor editor; columnist or pundit. He is, quite simply, a talking head. Whether or not Fox News should have people who are simply talking heads - whose job it is to hike ratings - is another topic altogether. Hannity, on an individual level, is charged with the task of inciting rage in the viewer. And he did just that.
Now, the class argued that he should be held to the same standard of accuracy as any journalist if he is to broadcast on a "news" outlet. Thus, his blunder with switching footage to make the first Tea Parties seem larger would be outrageous. However, upon further examination, it is clear that he is NOT in fact the executive producer of the Sean Hannity Show. In fact, he has no role in it, whatsoever, other than to be the face.
The Fox News website lists the staff of the show as such (they do not provide last names):
James: Executive Producer
Elisha: Senior Producer
Eileen: Affiliate Relations Director
Lynda: Associate Producer
Eric: Talk Programming Director
So, it's entirely possible that Hannity had no idea that the footage was fake. Of course, we will never know who made the final decision and who really has the power (I'm sure Hannity is given a measured amount of decision-making power for the sake of keeping the talent happy) but, it's safe to say that the decision to switch footage was not entirely up to him.