Sean Hannity Unrivaled as Fox News Cruises to Big February Ratings Win
The Forbes version of the story that is undoubtedly driving Hannity’s competitors and haters alike absolutely batty begins this way:
Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity crushed the cable news competition in February, finishing first with an average audience of 3.3 million total viewers. February marked Hannity’s fifth straight month as the unrivaled King of Cable News, maintaining a wide lead over MSNBC rival Rachel Maddow, who finished the month in third place overall.
This is being reported with decided teeth-gritting in some places and more matter-of-factly in others. (And full disclosure, I write columns over there at the Hannity website.)
But aside from the usual cable-news-is-competitive storyline and the Hannity-is-the-King storyline, not to mention the always accompanying latest in the Fox versus CNN wars, it would seem that it is worth asking: Why? Why, exactly, is Sean Hannity the King of Cable News?
One recalls this and that storyline not so long ago in which Hannity’s demise was gleefully predicted, as here in this far-left domicile. In which it was declared back there in 2013 — and this lefty site was far from alone in saying things like this- that Hannity’s move to a 10:00 p.m. Fox slot, with his 9:00 p.m. slot going to Megyn Kelly — was, well, the end of the television road. “Any way you look at it, this is a huge demotion for Sean Hannity,” crowed the writer. Around the same time another Leftist site was saying that there had been a “smackdown of his television brand.” Another from 2012 exulted: “Sean Hannity’s ratings have plummeted.”
Well, no. Today Megyn Kelly has departed to the roiling wilderness of NBC, Bill O’Reilly is gone, replaced with Tucker Carlson, and Hannity is back anchoring that self-same 9 p.m. slot with Laura Ingraham charging ahead in the 10:00 p.m. slot Hannity vacated for his return.
And now? Writes Mediaite:
For the fifth straight month, Fox News’ Hannity was the most-watched program in overall viewers on cable news, ranking number one in both total viewership and the key 25-54 demographic for February. This came during a month in which Fox News led across the board in total day and primetime viewership. Meanwhile, both MSNBC and CNN had their own highlights to tout for the month.…
Hannity was the big winner in terms of individual programs, drawing 3.333 million total viewers and 711,000 in the 25-54 audience. Fox News’ 8 PM show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, placed second overall in both the demo (650,000) and total viewership (3.144 million). Hannity’s 9 PM MSNBC competitor, The Rachel Maddow Show, came in third in both metrics, attracting 2.874 million overall viewers and 641,000 in the demographic. In January, Maddow topped the demo and finished second in total viewers.
Over at the New York Times the Jedi Knight of the American Right is on the cover of the Sunday magazine. Beneath a series of self-mocking photos of Hannity is the alarmed caption from the liberal paper of record:
How Far Will Sean Hannity Go?
The Fox News host is willing to defend Trump at all costs — and is reaching more than 13 million people a day.
According to the ratings… far. As in well out there in a galaxy of winners that is far, far away from the rest of his cable competitors.
So what happened? Why, exactly, is Hannity crushing the opposition? Why is the King… the King?
There is an answer, a couple of answers actually. First is the obvious. As Hannity himself has said, when he first began at the brand new Fox News way back there in the 1990s, he thought he should have been fired he was so bad on TV. Today he has morphed into the penultimate example of the polished television host/opinion journalist. But lots of people on television or for that matter in any profession can have a shaky beginning and grow to be polished professionals. There is something else going on with Hannity’s popularity. That word would be: Substance.
The substance is, of course, his conservatism. And on top of that these days in the Trump era, that something else is Hannity’s relentless attacks on what he, correctly from this corner, calls “the destroy Trump media.” This is not some shallow, ratings grabber either. Regular listeners to Hannity’s show have become mesmerized with his organized, thorough, and fact-driven investigations into the whole Trump/Russia canard and the accompanying realization that the real Russia collusion was going on with what Hannity correctly calls the “Deep State.”
The reason the Washington Post is so celebrated by the left is that the paper’s young reporters — Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein — aggressively pursued the Nixon Watergate scandal story when few others would. With the Post’s executive editor, Ben Bradlee, making certain that their work received front page play in the Post.
In essence, Hannity has morphed into Fox’s (and talk radio’s) version of Ben Bradlee, providing a prominent platform — air time — to a core of serious journalists who have relentlessly investigated the ties between the Clinton campaign, the FBI, the Department of Justice — and the Russians. Hannity has made radio and TV stars of longtime serious journalists like Sara Carter (now a Fox contributor), and the Hill’s John Solomon, with analysts and lawyers like Fox’s own Greg Jarrett, attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, filling out the cast. Not to be forgotten either is Jay Sekulow, the latter of the American Center for Law and Justice who has now doubled as a Trump lawyer.
Who else other than Hannity would go after Meryl Streep for being celebrated at the Oscars this week by Best Actress winner Frances McDormand — and remind that Streep was on her feet applauding for the convicted pedophile Hollywood director Roman Polanski? Not to mention Streep’s celebration of the accused sexual assaulter and Hollywood pooh-bah Harvey Weinstein as… yes… “God.” Or point out that all those anti-NRA crusaders at the Oscars were protected by a mammoth collection of gun-toting guards? Only this week Hannity featured the Hill’s scoop’ by the Hill’s Solomon that was headlined thusly:
Australian diplomat whose tip prompted FBI’s Russia-probe has tie to Clintons
Which begins with yet another blockbuster revelation:
The Australian diplomat whose tip in 2016 prompted the Russia-Trump investigation previously arranged one of the largest foreign donations to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable efforts, documents show.
Former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s role in securing $25 million in aid from his country to help the Clinton Foundation fight AIDS is chronicled in decade-old government memos archived on the Australian foreign ministry’s website.
Downer and former President Clinton jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February 2006 that spread out the grant money over four years for a project to provide screening and drug treatment to AIDS patients in Asia.
Collectively, each doing their own thing, these deadly serious professional journalists and lawyers have become an ensemble version of Woodward and Bernstein — digging, digging, digging, sourcing, sourcing, sourcing. Coming up time and again with scoops that are as solid as gold. All of which, in turn, makes Hannity’s Fox show must-see-TV. With Hannity the host of an unfolding live-TV version of the movie made of Woodward and Bernstein’s dramatic, relentless investigation of Watergate — All the President’s Men.
Except, of course, this version might be titled Deep State: All of Hillary’s Men and Then Some.
Make no mistake. Sean Hannity, as Forbes has correctly informed, is indeed the King of Cable News. And it drives liberals and his competition crazy. But what makes his television show so watchable is something discussed in song decades ago in the Broadway musical tale of Camelot’s King Arthur. The opening lines as sung by the King:
I know what my people are thinking tonight,
As home through the shadows they wander.
Ev’ryone smiling in secret delight,
They stare at the castle and ponder.
Whenever the wind blows this way,
You can almost hear ev’ryone say:
I wonder what the king is doing tonight?
Millions of Americans, convinced President Trump is right that they are getting “fake news” from the mainstream media — not to mention that many of those same Americans believe the move is afoot to undo the election of the president they voted for — are tuning into Hannity’s show because they do indeed wonder what the King of Cable News is Doing Tonight.
And every weekday night.