Sean Hannity turned his prime-time Fox News show into a rally for Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) nascent bid for speaker of the House on Wednesday. The veteran Fox host and sometime GOP operative’s support makes sense given how central Jordan has become to the Fox universe’s smears of Democrats and defenses of former President Donald Trump. In fact, in recent years Jordan has made more appearances on the network’s weekday programming than any other member of Congress by a wide margin.
Jordan is a member of the “Fox News Caucus” of Republicans who have used the right-wing propaganda network to bootstrap their careers. A leader of the GOP’s faction of procedural radicals who was once described by Republican former House Speaker John Boehner as “a terrorist,” Jordan garnered Trump’s support by serving as one of his chief defenders on the network, which he has parlayed into increasingly influential positions in Congress.
Fox’s weekday programs have interviewed Jordan more times than any other sitting member of Congress since Media Matters began tabulating cable news guest appearances in August 2017 — and it’s not close. The Ohio Republican appeared at least 565 times on Fox’s programming over that period; the member with the second-most appearances is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), with 479.
And nearly half of Jordan’s Fox weekday interviews, 268 appearances, came in the network’s prime-time block, which generally boasts the highest ratings and most influential hosts.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), who has also launched a bid for the speakership, is also no stranger to Fox. But Scalise’s 298 weekday appearances over the same period, including 114 in prime time, pale by comparison to Jordan’s.
And the disparity is even greater since the start of the Biden administration — Jordan has 275 Fox weekday interviews compared to only 75 for Scalise during that period.
Jordan is particularly a fixture on Hannity’s program, where he has appeared at least 157 times since August 2017. That’s no coincidence — they are effectively analogues within the GOP. Just as Hannity leads the party’s propaganda arm in crafting conspiracy theories to attack the left and protect Trump, Jordan uses his legislative powers to play the same role in the House.
It is not uncommon for Jordan to adopt one of Hannity’s wild claims, take it into the halls of Congress, and then go on Hannity’s show to talk about it. He did so just last week, parroting Hannity’s Ukraine conspiracy theory about President Joe Biden during the House’s impeachment inquiry hearing, then repeating it for Hannity’s viewers.
That overlap in priorities and style helped earn Jordan Hannity’s backing.
“My choice for chairman, my choice for speaker, the best option I think we have is Jim Jordan, the Ohio congressman,” Hannity said before a cheering live studio audience on Wednesday. “Now, I do believe he could and should garner the full support of the GOP conference and can best articulate, that's for sure. He's the best guy at labeling lists of what Democrats do wrong and what Republicans do right of anybody in Washington. And I think he can articulate that agenda to the country.”
He went on to urge House Republicans to “pick a speaker quickly” in order to “continue their oversight into Joe Biden, what I'm calling the Joe Biden bribery and money laundering scandal allegations” and keep the “focus on what has become a radical Democratic Party that is turning this country upside down.”
Hannity’s endorsement is significant; with Rush Limbaugh dead and Tucker Carlson exiled to X, he is probably the right-wing propaganda machine’s single most influential figure within Republican politics. His fervent support helped clinch the GOP nominations for his chosen candidates for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania and Georgia in the 2022 cycle. But Hannity’s influence has limits — both of those nominees lost to Democrats in the general election.
Republican members of Congress may want a speaker who behaves like a Fox News host. But that set of goals and behaviors doesn’t wear well for those who aren’t addicted to hard-right propaganda.