Could be nothing but a quirk of scheduling but when you’ve got Kelly criticizing O’Reilly in interviews for not sticking up for her against Trump and Greg Gutfeld admitting on air to strife within the network over His Trumpiness, every perceived snub seems significant.
Here’s what Hannity tweeted last Thursday night when he was getting savaged by Cruz fans on Twitter for being in the tank for Trump:
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 1, 2016
That seemed plausible. Cruz has been campaigning nonstop in Wisconsin, a must-win state for him, for two weeks. How’s he supposed to find time for a long interview amidst all that?
Then this happened:
Inbox: Megyn Kelly is hosting a Ted Cruz town hall on Monday
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) April 2, 2016
That town hall is being held as I write this. A reporter who’s there says Kelly started with 12 minutes of questions about the National Enquirer story (“I have always been faithful to my wife”) and Trump’s attacks on Heidi Cruz. Why’d Cruz give her some time after denying Hannity for (at least) two weeks? Was this town hall with Kelly booked far in advance? Had Cruz promised Kelly an interview before Wisconsin votes and felt obliged not to scoop that interview by giving Hannity an hour first?
Or is there another explanation? Here’s a noteworthy tweet from one week ago:
— Brian Phillips (@RealBPhil) March 28, 2016
Brian Phillips is a Cruz campaign spokesman. A Fox representative claimed last week that Hannity spoke to Team Cruz after Phillips tweeted that and that “all was and is fine,” but we won’t really know if that’s true until we see what the next few weeks of Fox News primetime looks like. It could be that Cruz’s town hall with Kelly is less about snubbing Hannity than about pure strategy: Remember, he’s beating Trump big among women in Wisconsin according to at least three different polls. An interview with the most prominent woman anchor in TV news might well reach more women voters than an hour with Hannity would. It could also be that Team Cruz figures they’re doing more for Hannity at this point in agreeing to regular appearances than Hannity’s doing for them. The more segments Cruz does on his show, the easier it is for Hannity to claim that he’s neutral between Trump and Cruz, a claim that many Cruz fans scoff at. Better to cede that ground to Trump entirely (or mostly, as I’m sure Cruz will still put in an appearance here and there) and let Hannity be perceived as a Trump partisan — especially if Cruz still has access to Fox News primetime via Kelly’s show.
Here’s Kelly’s interview with Charlie Rose this weekend in which she talks about receiving death threats since Trump started attacking her. (“It’s how he gins up anger among so many. So it manifests in my life in several ways.”) Hannity’s guest tonight for the full hour will be Donald Trump.