How ‘The Loyal Dog’ Sean Hannity Became Hus Bean From King Of Fox News

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Oh, how the mighty man has fallen!

During the Trump administration, Sean Hannity was on top of the world. In April 2017, with his news longtime colleague and nemesis Bill O’Reilly dismissed over sexual misconduct allegations, Hannity immediately moved from his second fiddle to cable his news. Promoted to Most Featured Host on And he remained there for many years.

The Fox News veteran host not only drew nearly four million viewers nightly while cheerleading for Donald Trump, but was widely regarded as the then-President’s shadow chief of staff. When Trump wasn’t calling his show for an “exclusive” interview, Hannity was calling the president late at night and serving as an informal adviser.

But towards the end of Trump’s term, Tucker Carlson replaced O’Reilly in prime time.Replaced Hannity as Fox News’ top dogConservative cable viewers seemed far more interested in Carlson’s brand, which incorporated Trumpist allegations. extreme right nationalismpassionate anti-immigrant rhetoricWhen COVID Truthism And Hannity’s increasingly banal Trump boosterism (and Hillary Clinton’s insatiable obsession).

And longer hannity – now Longest-running cable news host Historically — traversed the post-Trump world and tumbled further down the ratings crest.

Hannity proposed a Hunter Biden pardon ‘smoothly’ on Jan. 6

“We are the envy of every other network in that we have to compete with ourselves after beating them all on cable. “There is no other host in the industry who has the power,” wrote a spokesperson for the network. “Fox News Media said his first show at 9 p.m. And we are proud to be an integral part of our 26 years of success.”

A late-afternoon panel show that has already climbed to #3 in Fox News viewership by the 2020 election Five— Featuring popular Fox News veterans Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Watters —He eventually overtook Hannity for second place in August 2021., haven’t looked back since. In fact, the gabfest that started with the culture wars has been overtaken. tucker carlson tonight as the most-watched program on all cable news. (However, Carlson’s shows regularly draw larger audiences in the coveted 25-to-her 54-year-old advertising demographic.)

After a brief drop in Fox News ratings in the wake of Trump’s election loss, the network changed its weekday line-up and leaned toward outright right-wing commentary. “Straight News” anchor that launches at 7pm Martha McCallum replaced her time with a nightly opinion talk show until mid-afternoon.

Ultimately, after a year of rotating through a series of hosts and arranging time slots, the network rewarded Watters with an hour in January of this year. Known for ambush interviews, tend to be controversiala former O’Reilly minion Stars rose rapidly at FoxLike Gutfeld, Popular weekday talk showWatters hosted a highly rated weekend program for several years.

jesse watters primetime It was an instant hit with the audiences of right-wing cable giants, quickly dominating its time slot and quickly becoming one of cable’s top five shows.

By spring, the evening shows had surpassed Hannity’s primetime offering in total viewership, drawing an average of 2.92 million viewers versus Hannity’s 2.89 million. in Aprilalthough Hannity had a slight lead over Watters in key demographics.

Hannity’s show finish in 3rd place In the second quarter of this year, it averaged 2.73 million total viewers, surpassing Watters’ 2.69 million. jesse watters primetime Advertising demographic with approximately 50,000 viewers. But June and he July were different stories.Watters again Surpassed Hannity in total ratings The next month in June, Watters will fill the gap in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. extended the lead across the audience It reached over 100,000 viewers and fell within 13,000 of Hannity in key advertising demographics.

Of course, Hannity’s dominating ratings on Fox are long gone, but he regularly outperforms his competitors on both CNN and MSNBC (especially Rachel Maddow, who only airs once a week). (because they didn’t). In addition, Hannity’s show has gained overall viewership compared to this time last year, with him up 7% in total viewership.

While the sustained dominance of Carlson, Gutfeld, and Watters — warriors of culture who own the “library” over card-carrying Trumpists — Hannity, a member of Trump’s entourage, continues to decline. growing awareness That the network has distanced itself from Trump’s cult of personality.

How Fox News prime time fueled Trump’s ‘big lie’

Even while the Murdoch-owned editorial board attacked Trump with a shocking revelation on Jan. 6, and Fox News hasn’t interviewed the former president in monthstrump presence It still overshadows everyone else at FoxMoreover, even if they are less directly involved in Trumpworld, Carlson, Gutfeld and Watters continue to intervene on behalf of the former president, often singing his praises and Yakku with him at his Saudi-backed golf tournament.

Instead, the most likely explanation lies in Hannity’s inability to evolve with the changing right-wing media landscape. This has long moved into darker ideological realms after decades of faithfully defending and promoting the Republican Party.

“The fundamental thing about Hannity is that he’s not an ideas man. He’s a cheerleader,” explained Matthew Sheffield, a former right-wing media figure turned critic.before launch fluxan independent media outlet, Sheffield was co-founder of Newsbusters and a right-wing watchdog regularly featured throughout Hannity’s shows and Fox programming. A vocal critic of conservative mediaspends much of his energy now on how to blamedamage’ It has been directed at the American public.

“[Hannity] Not a creative person. He just wants the same guest to say the same thing all the time,” he continued. “And for the more angry, reactionary, Christian types, that’s no longer enough. They want to be more angry and more ambitious. I don’t want to hear

This analysis of Hannity’s fall from the top was echoed by Andrew Lawrence, deputy director of rapid response at the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America.

“I think with the establishment of the Republican Party, their influence has diminished a little bit,” Lawrence said. “They think Tucker is following the lead of the ‘blood and soil’ foundation from which he draws his influence. And I think Fox News is more like trying to appeal to its “blood and soil” base than to elect the Republican Party. ”

On the other hand, Sheffield notes that hosts like Carlson, Gutfeld and Watters, more than Hannity, commonly believe that hardcore Fox viewers find themselves constantly besieged and tormented. He pointed out that he seemed to understand well. culture.

Will Greg Gutfeld be the new King of Fox News?

“What Watters is giving them is he’s trying to make fun of the left by flipping them over. That’s pretty much what he’s doing,” Sheffield explained. It’s a better emotional tone for them to make slanderous remarks about Democrats than to run. [establishment Republican lawmakers] Get out again. ”

Lawrence likewise said that Watters others Hannity, on the other hand, only seems to be drawing headlines about his fondness for Trump’s presidency. [when] A congressional hearing revealed that the text he sent to Trump said x, y, or z,” Lawrence said.

Another possible explanation for Hannity’s decline in Fox viewership, Sheffield said, lies in his most frequent guest. Punching bag Gerardo Rivera was once a staple of shows across the network, but such guests are now viewed with general suspicion by the ideological right.

“They hate these people. And if you watch other shows, they haven’t brought these people in,” Sheffield claimed. Like a dog, because that’s all he knows.”

Lawrence was much more terse in his overall assessment of Hannity’s decline.

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