With top White House adviser Steve Bannon openly calling the media the “opposition party,” and President Trump in agreement, there is at least one cable news host who has been making that argument for years.
Sean Hannity, who hosts Fox News Channel’s 10 p.m. hour, told POLITICO in an interview that he believes the 2016 election destroyed the credibility of mainstream news outlets like CNN and The New York Times. By highlighting pundits and polls that dismissed Trump’s chances of winning the Presidency, Hannity argues, the “mainstream media” effectively delegitimized itself.
Now Hannity argues, those same outlets are digging themselves in deeper.
“There is a political earthquake that is rocking this country and D.C., and the media is missing it,” he said.
“When you have The New York Times, a host on CNN, a guest on MSNBC, all calling the President of the United States a liar, if that is their coverage, they will never get their credibility back,” Hannity said. “They don’t understand Donald Trump, they don’t understand the phenomenon, they don’t understand what happened in this election, the level of elitism is breathtaking to me.”
While the President often kickstarts news coverage with a tweet, say about voter fraud, or TV ratings, Hannity argues that the media is missing the forest for the trees, wasting its time chasing those stories, doing fact-checks instead of trying to figure out why Trump won and why it matters.
“They are all focused on ‘Donald Trump didn’t agree with our analysis of the crowd size.’ You know, Alex, how many angels dance on the head of a pin? Who gives a shit? That doesn’t help the average person,” Hannity said, “Then they are focused on voter fraud. I watched David Muir the other night, [doing David Muir impression] ‘Well I called the author of the study and he says that never happened.’ Well I have been citing that study myself, and my answer is, really? Then why the hell did the guy write it? It is breathtaking to me.”
When asked if he had any advice for some of Fox’s competitors trying to cover the new administration, Hannity joked that they should keep it up.
“You know what, why do I want to give them any advice? What do I care? Keep doing the wrong thing. Keep being stupid. Double down on stupid and keep losing,” he said.
As President Trump marks his first month in office, Fox News is marking a milestone of its own: 15 years as the top-rated cable news channel this month. Averaging 2.8 million viewers in primetime, and 1.8 million viewers in total day, FNC is seeing its ratings rise by double digits compared to the same month last year. While the channel was founded halfway through Bill Clinton’s presidency, it came into its own after 9/11, and has led its cable news competition for the remainder of the Bush years, and the entirety of President Obama’s tenure.
Hannity was with Fox from the very beginning, and has known the President for years. During the campaign, he was an outspoken and early supporter of Trump, and his program regularly hosted the then-candidate. That relationship has paid off. While Hannity says he did not push the administration for an interview after the inauguration, he was hoping to secure an interview at some point during the President’s first week. He ended up with the first cable news interview on Thursday (ABC News’ Muir interviewed Trump the day before).
Despite that access, Hannity says that his relationship with Trump–and his opposition to the elite press—is borne from blue-collar roots.
“Most people really don’t understand me. All I really want is my country fixed. That is all I really care about,” Hannity said. “I want our budget balanced, I want a Supreme Court that is not an extreme left court. I want our borders secure, I want healthcare choices that work for people, rather than this big top-down government failure of Obamacare. I want to see the men and women in poverty and on food stamps and out of the labor force, I want them to have the same opportunities that I have had in my life.
“The media has a bunch of overpaid, out of touch, lazy millionaires that have nothing but contempt for the people that do make this country great,” he added. “I am not one of those people.”