The Washington Post reports on the clash between Fox News personalities Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity — a feud that I suspect delights the Post’s liberal media reporter Paul Farhi.
Yesterday, after criticizing Hillary Clinton for doing lightweight interviews with “Entertainment Tonight” and comedian-talk show host Steve Harvey, Kelly stated on her program:
Donald Trump, with all due respect to my friend at 10 pm, will go on Hannity and pretty much only Hannity and will not venture out to the unsafe spaces these days, which doesn’t exactly expand the tent [of supporters].
Hannity fired back on Twitter: “u should be mad at @hillaryClinton. Clearly you support her. And @realDonaldTrump did talk to u.”
Hannity tweet is nonsense. First, in the segment to which Hannity took exception, Kelly expressed her displeasure with Clinton.
Second, it isn’t clear that Kelly supports Clinton. She has never declared her preference in this election, and her reporting has been highly critical of both major presidential candidates.
Third, it’s true that Trump talked to Kelly. But that was months ago. Recently, Trump (probably wisely) has tended to avoid interviews with journalists who are likely to ask him tough questions. This was Kelly’s point, and she specifically said she’s talking about Trump’s practices “these days.”
Kelly’s corollary was that Hannity doesn’t ask Trump difficult questions. One can debate whether Kelly should have called out her colleague, but it’s indisputable that Hannity provides Trump a “safe space.” His interviews with the tycoon are fawning and, in my view, embarrassing.
One can fault Kelly for letting frustration over not being able to interview either major party presidential nominee spill over into public criticism of a colleague. But one can’t honestly disagree with what she said. Nor was Hannity’s response fact-based.
The big questions, I suppose, are whether Fox News is “big enough” for Kelly and Hannity and, if not, who will be the first to go. I would think that if Trump loses decisively, Hannity might be a casualty.
What use would the network have for a commentator who shilled relentlessly for a defeated and discredited non-conservative candidate and who, undoubtedly, will spend the next few years accusing “the establishment” of “stabbing Trump in the back”?
As between such a commentator and a host with star power whose show tilts conservative but maintains a decent regard for journalistic standards, the choice should be easy.