It's on: Shep, Hannity, Ingraham squabble over "news" in Fox News's opinion programming

Not the first time Shep and Hannity have skirmished over this subject. Remember?

Is there anyone else on the “news” side of Fox who’d be this brazen in knocking the people who pay the bills in primetime? Chris Wallace has criticized the “opinion” side before, but for specific failings like too-frequent media-bashing.

Shep’s critique is broader. He seems to have little use for what his network is most famous for.

“Some of our opinion programming is there strictly to be entertaining,” Smith told Time Magazine’s Daniel D’Addario in a piece titled, “Shep Smith Has the Hardest Job on Fox News.”

“We serve different masters,” Smith, 54, added when discussing the difference between the opinion side of Fox News, including shows such as “The Sean Hannity Show,” and the network’s news division. “We work for different reporting chains, we have different rules. They don’t really have rules on the opinion side. They can say whatever they want. If it’s their opinion.”…

“I don’t really watch a lot of opinion programming,” Smith continued. “I’m busy.”

Hannity didn’t like that even though he’s been quick to make Shep’s point himself in the past at times when he’s taken heat from critics. He’s not a journalist, he’s said, he’s a talk-show host. (Although more recently he’s taken to calling himself an “opinion journalist” or “advocacy journalist.”) That’s why there’s no ethical problem with him informally advising the president or cutting quickie campaign commercials for him. The rules are different — just as Shep said. Oh well:

Laura Ingraham, who follows Hannity in the Fox line-up, didn’t like it either:

Neither did their pal Geraldo:

They’ll have to learn to live with it. Shep just signed a new multiyear deal with Fox, which no doubt helps explain his boldness in sniffing at Fox’s bread-and-butter commentators.

It makes me laugh to see Shep lecturing people about the bright line between news and opinion when he’s famous for opinion-minded digressions on his news program. Remember when he called the Nunes memo a “weapon of mass distraction,” to take a recent example? He doesn’t go on sustained rants as Hannity does, but he’s well-practiced at the art of the opinionated aside. And why not? He’s not doing investigative news. He’s doing, uh…

He’s famous for narrating car chases, basically. Meanwhile, Hannity does break news sometimes on his show but it’s almost invariably dirt on his — or, rather, Trump’s — political enemies. That’s why he gets called “state media” so often. Because he’s so close to the president and so badly allergic to criticizing him, even when he’s breaking a story you get the sense that what you’re watching is less “news” than spoon-fed oppo.

We’re left with the Fox News equivalent of that old Reese’s commercial. Shep’s getting opinion chocolate in his news peanut butter, Hannity’s getting news peanut butter in his opinion chocolate, and they’re both pigging out. The Seth Rich clusterfark is a nice example: Although it’s Hannity who’s most notorious on the network for promoting the possibility that Rich leaked the hacked DNC emails and was murdered for it, it’s actually the “news” side of Fox that’s being sued by Rich’s family. The whole point of Fox is to deliver news that’s of special interest to an opinionated right-wing audience. The lines are destined to blur.

But of course, this is a fair point too:

Does Shep opine as much during his news broadcasts as any of the Russiagate obsessives at the gun-control Super PAC known as CNN do during theirs? Is there a single CNN anchor who hasn’t lectured Trump (and sometimes other Republicans) during “news” programming? Their new down-the-middle alternative to Hannity and Maddow at 9 p.m. is Chris Cuomo, for fark’s sake.

Here’s a video that’s creeping up on four million views as I write this. In fairness to everyone featured in it, I don’t think mindless partisan bias is the only reason one might have objected to Obama being willing to meet with the leader of North Korea in 2008 and applauded Trump for being willing to do it in 2018. I’ve held both those positions myself and I’m no Trump shill. The difference is that NK’s nuclear and ICBM programs are 10 years further along (thanks, Obama!) and our options are more limited now. Having run out of methods to pressure or convince North Korea to denuclearize, what’s the harm at this point in a long-long-longshot attempt by Trump to talk Kim out of it before bombs start dropping? You can have a good-faith nonpartisan reason for having changed your mind over time. Whether everyone in the clip *did* have a good-faith nonpartisan reason is a separate question.

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