Public spat between Megyn Kelly, Sean Hannity shows what sets Fox apart

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Megyn Kelly, on Fox News Wednesday night: 

“Donald Trump, with all due respect to my friend, at 10:00 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.”  

Sean Hannity, on Twitter later that night:

Before addressing this spat, here’s a personal note from somebody who can say he’s both on the inside and outside when it comes to the world of cable news.

{mosads}If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of meeting those who work on-air in cable news regardless of network — and I’ve been on them all many times — it’s this:

A majority are phonies. Absolute phonies.

The reason? A potent brew of ego, self-importance, a lack of self-awareness, more ego, and a constant need for attention.

I’ve seen it firsthand on sets across the cable news and radio spectrum as a guest at networks and stations large and small: I’d perform a hit (known as a guest spot), but would always notice in the time before and after speaking on the air that a majority — we’ll call it 60 percent — aren’t previewing scripts or talking to producers. Instead, they’re checking a Twitter feed instead and mumbling at the criticism or smiling at the praise sent to them on their screens. 


That’s why “The Howard Stern Show” has always been so refreshing and remains so popular: There are no phonies. Nobody holds back. And we’re not just talking about filterless commentary provided to listeners about the world around them — it’s also inside the tent, where co-workers air their grievances as well. 

The infighting is priceless because of what’s shared — everything — and because the passion behind it is very real. Nothing is staged. It’s a food fight at Thanksgiving dinner and hardly anyone is spared, including the boss himself. And listening to people actually act like human beings, even with all their flaws, just happens to be the best part of Stern’s program. 

It’s also what makes the hysterical reaction from those working in media to what went down at Fox News so hilarious.

Here’s a basic paraphrasing from adults in the industry who act like they’re auditioning for “Mean Girls 2”: “OMG! Megyn Kelly just threw serious shade” — the worst term ever invented — “at Hannity! And look! Hannity fired back at Megyn on Twitter! Fox is imploding!!!

It’s like watching the Ewoks dance and cheer after seeing the Death Star blown up.

So before agreeing this spat is a horrible situation for Fox News, come back outside the bubble where lucidity exists.

Here’s the deal: This election is easily the most polarizing we’ve ever seen. There’s the pro-Clinton camp, the pro-Trump camp, #NeverTrump and #I’mNotVotingBecauseBothTheseCandidatesAreHorrible. Even friendly Facebook has become a no-go zone for some escapism because of all the pontificating political posts. 

Bottom line: People will clash about everything when it comes to this election. Things are emotional. And that includes when a Fox opinion host who openly and proudly supports a presidential candidate (Hannity/Trump) and another (Kelly) who openly disagrees with said host for using his program to advocate for said candidate. 

Of course, Kelly could have vented to her friends on Twitter DM or email, but she chose to go after her colleague on the air for not challenging Trump enough in interviews instead. And Hannity could have run to management and cried about it or vented privately, but he used the bullhorn that is Twitter to fire back. Good for them both. 

Fox is as popular as it is, particularly on the opinion side, because people like Kelly and Hannity aren’t paid to hold anything back. The former is more of a hybrid when it comes to her on-air duties — she can anchor straight news and inject opinion when warranted. Think of Don Lemon as a parallel — while the latter is a pure opinion entity and doesn’t pretend to be otherwise. 

The disagreement between the two hosts has been brewing for awhile. After the first presidential debate, Kelly, anchoring with Bret Baier, said this: 

“We’ve got Trump speaking to our own Sean Hannity,” she said. “We’ll see if he speaks to the journalists in this room after that interview.”

Add it all up, Hannity got access nobody else could. In a related story, his ratings have never been higher since moving to 10 p.m. and beat all competitors in cable news in September, including Kelly, who came in a close second. 

These are ingredients to something compelling: We have an internal ratings rivalry. Questions around access. Criticism of one host from another and vice versa in the retort, all playing out publicly.

Many will soak in schadenfreude over the scuffle. 

Many who work at rival networks will dedicate significant time talking and writing about it, as is always the case when it comes to the network anyway without ever criticizing anyone or anything under their own tent.  

They don’t get and never will. 

Disagreement between co-workers isn’t a bad thing. 


It shows authenticity — a concept all the phonies in this business can’t seem to grasp. 

You want to know what helps make Fox so popular as it enters its 15th year of being No. 1? It’s editorial talent.

And what that talent does best? They speak their minds, even when it means (gasp) disagreeing with the way a co-worker runs his or her shop. The media bubble thinks it’s bad for the network, the end of harmony at Fox. 

Guess what? Harmony is boring. Disagreement is much more engaging.

People at home appreciate this.

Tags Donald Trump

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