Sean Hannity continues to take on continual slung arrows as he becomes the real face of Fox News and their political philosophies. Even if you can argue Fox News isn’t entirely supportive of President Trump (especially with Shepard Smith being critical), Hannity never wavers on standing up for the President’s policies.
Some might find it painful to hear Hannity is worth $200 million and pulls in 3 million viewers per night. Why does he continue to dominate in the ratings when so many more ethical journalists are on Fox News, CNN, and elsewhere?
With Hannity arguably not a full-fledged journalist, it might say more about the viewers than the host.
Sean Hannity’s build-up of fans
It’s hard to believe Hannity has been with Fox News now for 23 years. Even many of the well-respected journalists/anchors of the past didn’t stay with a network this long.
He’s now making $36 million a year for Hannity, which proves how much Fox News wants him to stay, maybe into retirement. Being in one place for so long is no doubt a part of the reason so many people stick with Hannity every weeknight.
Those of you old enough to remember back to the original big three network news anchors will know how much of a habit it became to watch everyone from Walter Cronkite to Tom Brokaw.
While all of those legendary anchors had to retire eventually, they carved indelible marks in journalism for decades. Hannity is a horse of a different color in what he’s managed to get away with while journalists boil.
Does Hannity and controversy attract viewers?
Some of the things Hannity has said on Fox News (and his Twitter account) have shocked many people. On Twitter, Hannity clearly upholds every morsel of the President’s demands, including building a wall on the southern U.S. border. Plus, he continues to go after liberal superstars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to make her look incompetent.
You’ll also find Hannity defending many of these political stances on his TV and radio shows, many of which are uncompromising in never addressing potential Presidential lies. Many news outlets (like The New York Times) have even wondered how far Hannity will go before ever becoming censured by Fox News.
Along with the news he was associated with Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen, the controversy seems to attract viewers just to see how Hannity will respond.
The fear of journalism turning into extreme entertainment
In the reality show era we’re living in, you could say we’re heading for news commentary similar to how Hannity presents it. Since he adheres to the shocking reality show tactics our own President engages in, you have to wonder if it’s setting a dangerous precedent.
Some of Hannity’s tweets go into the range of political roast (case in point: recently blasting CNN reporter Jim Acosta), which you don’t see on other journalistic Twitter accounts.
Add Hannity’s past comments about not being a real journalist and more a talk show host, you can see what the concern is in the field of journalism.
Is Hannity steering political talk shows into extremist entertainment that works similarly to a reality show?
Real journalism will likely endure
Many other journalists continue to maintain Twitter accounts and maintain the heart of objective journalism. A lot of these individuals also show a human side in their tweets (like Anderson Cooper) rather than continually try to make a journalistic or political point.
Hannity never lets up from trying to prove his own political side.
Despite him reportedly growing viewers nightly, no one should feel like real journalism is dead. The idea of people tuning in just to see how far he’ll go is a lot like the prescient 1976 movie Network and the Howard Beale character. Now on Broadway with Bryan Cranston, this production gives us a warning tale about talk show hosts who go over a certain line into madness.
Once we see what we’ve become, real journalism will show its worth again.