Fox scolds Sean Hannity for taking stage at Trump rally

Sean Hannity took the stage at a rally for President Donald Trump Monday night and delivered a short, supportive speech.

Fox scolds Sean Hannity for taking stage at Trump rally
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
  • Fox News says it doesn't condone "any talent participating in campaign events."
  • It's not the first time Hannity has been rebuked by network executives for his political activism.
  • Still, it's not clear whether the network plans to penalize Hannity, partly because he's the most-watched host in cable news.

On the morning of President Donald Trump's last rally before the midterm elections, Sean Hannity tweeted that he planned to attend the event so he could cover it for his TV show on Fox News. Trump's campaign had billed Hannity as a "special guest" at the event, but the conservative commentator made sure to write in his tweet that he would not "be on stage campaigning with the President."

Covering rallies, after all, is something Hannity has done "in every election in the past," he had tweeted.

But shortly after Trump appeared in front of thousands of his supporters, some of whom had been waiting for hours in the packed Show Me Center at Southeast Missouri State University, the president called on Hannity to join him on stage.

"Sean Hannity, come on up, Sean Hannity," Trump said, as if maybe the Fox News host had just won a new car.

The crowd roared. Hannity walked up, shook the president's hand, hugged him and turned toward the microphone.

"By the way, all those people in the back are fake news," Hannity said about the reporters stationed in the back of the arena. He then went on to deliver a short speech to support the president.

It's unclear how the "fake news" comment landed with his Fox News colleagues who were in the back of the arena with the other press. (Hannity later tweeted that he was not referring to Fox News journalists.) But what is certain is that Hannity's onstage appearance with the president annoyed some executives at Fox News, which released the following statement Tuesday:

"Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events. We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight, and we are extremely proud of their work. This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed."

Hannity insisted that the appearance wasn't planned.

It's not the first time Hannity has vexed executives at Fox News with his political activism. In 2010, he used his TV show to promote his scheduled appearance at a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati. But Fox News executives later cancelled his appearance after learning rally organizers had been raising money based on Hannity's promotion.

In 2016, Hannity appeared in a Trump campaign video. Network executives said they were unaware of Hannity's involvement and told him not to do it again. It's unclear whether Fox plans in any way to punish Hannity, who is the most-watched host in cable news.

Also present at Monday's rally were Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro and conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh. Pirro, standing in front of thousands of cheering Trump supporters, pleaded with the crowd to get out and vote red in Tuesday's elections.

"Do you like that this man is the tip of the spear who goes out there every day, who goes out there and fights for us? If you like the America he is making now, you have to make sure you get out there tomorrow, if you haven't voted yet."

A landslide is imminent and so is its tsunami

An open letter predicts that a massive wall of rock is about to plunge into Barry Arm Fjord in Alaska.

Image source: Christian Zimmerman/USGS/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • A remote area visited by tourists and cruises, and home to fishing villages, is about to be visited by a devastating tsunami.
  • A wall of rock exposed by a receding glacier is about crash into the waters below.
  • Glaciers hold such areas together — and when they're gone, bad stuff can be left behind.

The Barry Glacier gives its name to Alaska's Barry Arm Fjord, and a new open letter forecasts trouble ahead.

Thanks to global warming, the glacier has been retreating, so far removing two-thirds of its support for a steep mile-long slope, or scarp, containing perhaps 500 million cubic meters of material. (Think the Hoover Dam times several hundred.) The slope has been moving slowly since 1957, but scientists say it's become an avalanche waiting to happen, maybe within the next year, and likely within 20. When it does come crashing down into the fjord, it could set in motion a frightening tsunami overwhelming the fjord's normally peaceful waters .

"It could happen anytime, but the risk just goes way up as this glacier recedes," says hydrologist Anna Liljedahl of Woods Hole, one of the signatories to the letter.

The Barry Arm Fjord

Camping on the fjord's Black Sand Beach

Image source: Matt Zimmerman

The Barry Arm Fjord is a stretch of water between the Harriman Fjord and the Port Wills Fjord, located at the northwest corner of the well-known Prince William Sound. It's a beautiful area, home to a few hundred people supporting the local fishing industry, and it's also a popular destination for tourists — its Black Sand Beach is one of Alaska's most scenic — and cruise ships.

Not Alaska’s first watery rodeo, but likely the biggest

Image source: whrc.org

There have been at least two similar events in the state's recent history, though not on such a massive scale. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake nearby caused 40 million cubic yards of rock to suddenly slide 2,000 feet down into Lituya Bay, producing a tsunami whose peak waves reportedly reached 1,720 feet in height. By the time the wall of water reached the mouth of the bay, it was still 75 feet high. At Taan Fjord in 2015, a landslide caused a tsunami that crested at 600 feet. Both of these events thankfully occurred in sparsely populated areas, so few fatalities occurred.

The Barry Arm event will be larger than either of these by far.

"This is an enormous slope — the mass that could fail weighs over a billion tonnes," said geologist Dave Petley, speaking to Earther. "The internal structure of that rock mass, which will determine whether it collapses, is very complex. At the moment we don't know enough about it to be able to forecast its future behavior."

Outside of Alaska, on the west coast of Greenland, a landslide-produced tsunami towered 300 feet high, obliterating a fishing village in its path.

What the letter predicts for Barry Arm Fjord

Moving slowly at first...

Image source: whrc.org

"The effects would be especially severe near where the landslide enters the water at the head of Barry Arm. Additionally, areas of shallow water, or low-lying land near the shore, would be in danger even further from the source. A minor failure may not produce significant impacts beyond the inner parts of the fiord, while a complete failure could be destructive throughout Barry Arm, Harriman Fiord, and parts of Port Wells. Our initial results show complex impacts further from the landslide than Barry Arm, with over 30 foot waves in some distant bays, including Whittier."

The discovery of the impeding landslide began with an observation by the sister of geologist Hig Higman of Ground Truth, an organization in Seldovia, Alaska. Artist Valisa Higman was vacationing in the area and sent her brother some photos of worrying fractures she noticed in the slope, taken while she was on a boat cruising the fjord.

Higman confirmed his sister's hunch via available satellite imagery and, digging deeper, found that between 2009 and 2015 the slope had moved 600 feet downhill, leaving a prominent scar.

Ohio State's Chunli Dai unearthed a connection between the movement and the receding of the Barry Glacier. Comparison of the Barry Arm slope with other similar areas, combined with computer modeling of the possible resulting tsunamis, led to the publication of the group's letter.

While the full group of signatories from 14 organizations and institutions has only been working on the situation for a month, the implications were immediately clear. The signers include experts from Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, and the Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses of the University of Alaska.

Once informed of the open letter's contents, the Alaska's Department of Natural Resources immediately released a warning that "an increasingly likely landslide could generate a wave with devastating effects on fishermen and recreationalists."

How do you prepare for something like this?

Image source: whrc.org

The obvious question is what can be done to prepare for the landslide and tsunami? For one thing, there's more to understand about the upcoming event, and the researchers lay out their plan in the letter:

"To inform and refine hazard mitigation efforts, we would like to pursue several lines of investigation: Detect changes in the slope that might forewarn of a landslide, better understand what could trigger a landslide, and refine tsunami model projections. By mapping the landslide and nearby terrain, both above and below sea level, we can more accurately determine the basic physical dimensions of the landslide. This can be paired with GPS and seismic measurements made over time to see how the slope responds to changes in the glacier and to events like rainstorms and earthquakes. Field and satellite data can support near-real time hazard monitoring, while computer models of landslide and tsunami scenarios can help identify specific places that are most at risk."

In the letter, the authors reached out to those living in and visiting the area, asking, "What specific questions are most important to you?" and "What could be done to reduce the danger to people who want to visit or work in Barry Arm?" They also invited locals to let them know about any changes, including even small rock-falls and landslides.

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