In an article for CNN.com detailing Fox News host Sean Hannity’s role as a “Republican shill” and pro-Trump advocate, CNN’s Dylan Byers highlighted Hannity’s softball interviews with Trump and his admission that he is offering a safe space for Republican candidates on his television and radio shows.
The May 2 article highlights how Hannity’s softball interviews with Trump start with Hannity citing “areas where he agrees with Trump, or where he thinks Trump was right about something, then asks him to expand on it.” Byers explained that Hannity “often ignores or defends Trump from criticism,” never asking Trump about not disavowing the Klu Klux Klan and arguing that criticism of Trump is “extraordinarily unfair.”
Byers also pointed out the support Trump has received from numerous Fox personalities including host Bill O’Reilly and the hosts of Fox & Friends, but argued that Hannity is the only host to admit his a pro-Trump characterization – making him “the most honest opinion host”:
In his interviews, Hannity frequently cites areas where he agrees with Trump, or where he thinks Trump was right about something, then asks him to expand on it. Many questions function as a set-up for Trump to discuss anything he wants: “If you win Florida and Ohio, you are well on your way to the nomination to be the Republican nominee for president,” Hannity said during a March interview. “How would that make you feel?”
Hannity often ignores or defends Trump from criticism. When he interviewed Trump in the heat of the controversy over of his failure to disavow the Klu Klux Klan, he never asked Trump about it. After the CNBC debate, Hannity said to Trump: “I felt [moderator] John Harwood was extraordinarily unfair to you and attacking you... I've got to imagine that that's pretty aggravating for you. What's your reaction to it?”
Hannity thinks his critics cherry pick these examples, but there are many cherries to pick. On terrorism: “I'm sure you wish you were wrong, Mr. Trump, but you were right. What did you see that maybe others didn't see about what was happening in Brussels and Belgium?” Hannity once told Trump: “You can tell me whatever you want. You're Donald Trump. You can say anything you want.”
Hannity's unapologetic advocacy has won him the support of Trump's base, a vocal coalition that loathes most members of the media. While he is hardly the only pro-Trump pundit, no other has the immense platform that is Fox News. In the first three months of 2016, Hannity averaged 1.88 million viewers a night, and his radio show is the second most-listened-to talk show in the country after Rush Limbaugh's.
Jonah Goldberg, of the conservative National Review, recently argued that Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, Eric Bolling, Bill O'Reilly and the majority of hosts on “Fox & Friends,” “The Five” and “Outnumbered” are “all more pro-Trump than anti.”
Several of the aforementioned hosts would likely disagree with that characterization. Hannity no longer troubles himself with such protests. In a way, that might just make him the most honest opinion host in all of cable news.