Bret Stephens rips Hannity over Buckley award

Bret Stephens rips Hannity over Buckley award
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Conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens on Thursday tore into Fox News host Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityPalin responds to Obama: 'He is a purveyor of untruths' The evolution of cable TV news — after Donald Trump Fox News wins ratings week, while MSNBC touts daytime figures MORE, saying that his receipt of a conservative media award marks the entrance of the conservative movement into an "idiot stage."

Channeling billionaire Warren Buffett's theory that history cycles through "'the innovators, the imitators and the idiots,'" Stephens wrote in a Times op-ed that the conservative Media Research Center's decision to award Hannity the William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence signaled the decline of the conservative movement. 

Hannity fired back in a series of tweets, waving off his criticism and saying that the conservative columnist hasn’t authored anything “memorable.”


In his column, Stephens wrote that neither the organization nor the award "is particularly noteworthy."


But he wrote that it was significant an award named after a conservative of Buckley's stature would be given to Hannity, for whom Stephens has a low opinion.

"But sometimes symbolism is more potent than fact," Stephens writes.


"If we have reached the point where rank-and-file conservatives see nothing amiss with giving Hannity an award named for Buckley, then surely there’s a Milton Friedman Prize awaiting Steve Bannon for his insights on free trade. And maybe Sean Spicer can receive the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent for his role in exposing 'fake news.' The floor’s the limit."

Or, for Hannity, Stephens added, "the crawl space beneath it."

Hannity, an ultraconservative television and radio host, has become known for his bombastic style and fierce on-air support for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE

Stephens lambasted the Fox News personality, however, as a drastically different conservative than Buckley, who helped pioneer the modern conservative movement in the U.S. 

"And so we reach the Idiot stage of the conservative cycle, in which a Buckley Award for Sean Hannity suggests nothing ironic, much less Orwellian, to those bestowing it, applauding it, or even shrugging it off," he writes. "The award itself is trivial, but it’s a fresh reminder of who now holds the commanding heights of conservative life, and what it is that they think."

Besides mocking Stephens and the Times, Hannity tweeted that it has never been his intention to emulate Buckley or any other conservative thinker.