On Monday night, far-right Fox News host Sean Hannity breathlessly railed against New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, whose scoops on the administration of former President Donald Trump led to some of the most consequential headlines of his time in office.
Hannity called Haberman a "stalker" for continuing to report on Trump, and he soon brought in Trump's White House press secretary turned Fox News pundit, Kayleigh McCenany.
True to form, McEnany accused Haberman of bias and insisted that if someone were to hack the text messages of prominent journalists, they would find evidence of malice toward her former boss.
"It was Justice Scalia who pointed out that it's so hard to win a defamation case against one of these publications because you have to prove actual malice. Well, I'm pretty sure if you got access to the personal text messages of a New York Times reporter or a Washington Post reporter, you may find that actual malice against you, a conservative, President Trump, James O'Keefe, or others."
Of course, the Trump administration did seek to uncover the communications of journalists in order to uncover their sources within the White House. Trump's White House seized the phone records of New York Times reporters, seized the emails and phone records of CNN correspondent Barbara Starr, and seized the phone records of Washington Post reporters—all in secret. This is, of course, in addition to secretly obtaining phone records from members of Congress.
While these efforts succeeded only in securing the phone records, not the contents of text messages or calls, social media users still skewered McEnany's rant.
Her reasoning—as well as her definition for the legal standard of malice—fell short.
Hannity, of course, had no objections.