Here’s a feud to make everyone happy. If you’re on Team Hannity, i.e. Team Trump, good news: This sort of thing makes it more likely that Kelly will leave Fox when her contract is up. If you’re on Team Kelly, good news: This sort of thing makes it more likely that Kelly will leave Fox when her contract is up.
First, watch the clip.
Within an hour or so of that airing, Hannity dropped this on Twitter:
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) October 6, 2016
Megyn started it, right? Well, wait. Back in April, shortly after Trump and Kelly had their reconciliation interview, Hannity hosted a town hall with Trump on his show and brought up Kelly. The pro-Trump crowd booed her heartily as Trump smiled. Hannity said nothing to defend his colleague. Then, after last week’s debate, Kelly introduced Hannity’s interview with Trump this way: ”We’ve got Trump speaking to our own Sean Hannity. We’ll see whether he speaks to the journalists in this room after that interview.” That was perceived as a shot at the fluffiness of Hannity’s treatment of Trump. Really, they’re natural antagonists. If you’re all-in on Trump, as Hannity emphatically is, then Kelly is a saboteur who showed her cards at the first Fox News primary debate last year. If you’re all-in on basic journalistic standards, as Kelly is, then Hannity’s unpaid volunteerism for Trump at 10 p.m. is an embarrassment to the network.
Did Kelly say anything that’s incorrect, though, either in the clip above or after the debate last week? Hannity proclaims loudly and regularly that he’s not a journalist. That’s his get-out-of-jail-free card for cutting ads for his favorite candidate and pushing garbage online polls that his network’s own polling bureau denounces. It’s also true, as Kelly says, that Trump’s endless national media tour has gotten more, shall we say, selective lately. Brian Stelter noted on September 19th that Trump, despite being omnipresent across American news networks all last year and for much of this year, has increasingly retreated to Fox News. His willingness to field questions at press conferences, a welcome contrast to Clinton ducking the media this spring and summer, has also dried up. All of that is good strategy by a campaign that’s trying to minimize the risks of him saying anything self-destructive in the home stretch, especially when they’re trying to present him as a more disciplined candidate to swing voters, but the fact remains that Kelly is right that Hannity’s show is a safe space for Trump. And in saying that, she doesn’t spare Clinton criticism: Most of what she says in the clip above, in fact, is a criticism of Hillary for ducking tough interviews (most notably with Kelly herself). That’s the irony of Hannity’s tweet — he, of all people, is accusing Kelly of being in the tank for a candidate when she just got finished scrutinizing Clinton more harshly in 30 seconds than Hannity has scrutinized Trump all year.
As I write this, Fox still hasn’t commented on the exchange between its two employees even though Hannity, in questioning the impartiality of someone on the “news side” of the network, is essentially attacking Fox’s core claim of being “fair and balanced.” Stay tuned. In lieu of an exit question, I’ll leave you with these quotes from his radio show yesterday via Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy:
Hannity: "And Glenn Beck says Jesus didn't teach when they hit you to hit back twice as hard. Well, my martial arts teaches me that"
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) October 6, 2016
Why turn the other cheek if you can kick your opponent in the face? The pro-Trump, post-Christian GOP is going to be amazing. Enter the dragon.