A few hours after news was released of a shooting that left five people dead and many more injured, Sean Hannity suggested Maxine Waters inspired the Capital Gazette shooting with her "rhetoric". The claims were made on his radio show on Thursday afternoon. Hannity spent a few moments lamenting the horror of such an event— but then he changed course.
According to The Huffington Post, Hannity tried to make a connection between Representative Waters' (D-Calif.) recent rally speech and a gunman's decision to enter the building of the Capital Gazette office and open fire. During her speech, Waters had encouraged people to tell Trump administration officials they were not welcome in public places
Hannity said, “I’ve been saying now for days that something horrible was going to happen because of the rhetoric. Really, Maxine?” said Hannity, referring to Waters. “You want people to create ― ‘Call your friends, get in their faces,’ and Obama said that, too. ‘Get in their faces, call them out, call your friends, get protesters, follow them into restaurants and shopping malls’ and wherever else she said.”
As The Huffington Post acknowledged, what's especially shocking about this rant (beyond Hannity connecting Waters to a shooting she was in no way related to) was that Hannity chose not to talk about Milo Yiannopoulos. The controversial YouTube celebrity and former Breitbart senior editor reportedly texted a reporter earlier this week, “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.”
“I’m not turning this into a gun debate. I know that’s where the media will be in 30 seconds from now. That’s not it," he continued. "It’s so sad that there are so many sick, demented and evil people in this world.”
But Waters defended herself from the get-go against accusations she was trying to incite violence. During the rally, she did encourage people to make Trump administration officials uncomfortable for their role in the family separation and detainment policy. However, she never suggested they should use physical force to make their voices heard.
Via CNN, Waters said, "Let's make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere. We've got to get the children connected to their parents."
She added, "We don't know what damage has been done to these children. All that we know is they're in cages. They're in prisons. They're in jails. I don't care what they call it, that's where they are and Mr. President, we will see you every day, every hour of the day, everywhere that we are to let you know you cannot get away with this."
Then Waters made the point later in the day during an interview on MSNBC that would soon cause a frenzy: "The people are going to turn on [Trump officials]. They're going to protest. They're going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they're going to tell the President, 'No, I can't hang with you.'"
Since then, Waters has insisted that she was calling for peaceful resistance, not violence. She also pointed out that Trump has incited and directly encouraged violence on numerous occasions, and even went so far as to list the occasions (as shown in the video above) she says he has explicitly called for violence. Hannity, however, still seems far more outraged by Waters' own words about protesting the Trump administration.