Sean Hannity vs. Rep. Keith Ellison: Who won epic argument?
Fox News host Sean Hannity and his guest, Rep. Keith Ellison, exchange insults in one of the most 'contentious' TV interviews in recent history. Is it another sign of what's wrong with cable news?
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“What?” said the Fox News host. “I didn’t hear you.”Skip to next paragraph
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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It went downhill from there. Ellison rolled along, making the general point that he believes the Republicans more to blame for the current fiscal mess, while Hannity sort of played rope-a-dope, sitting back and occasionally throwing in a punch when his guest paused for breath.
Here’s our first reaction: This is why we dislike cable news. It isn’t that they argue. It’s that they argue about irrelevant stuff.
David Graham at The Atlantic elucidates this idea at length: Really, does it matter whose idea the sequester was at this point? We know Bob Woodward thinks it does, and he’s a journalistic god, but for us it’s like the crew of the Titanic getting into a spat about who thought it was a good idea to take the North Atlantic route while the iceberg looms in front of them.
As Mr. Graham says, both parties agreed to it and voted to approve it.
“Trying to place the blame for the sequester is both a fool’s errand and a parlor game that has consumed much of the Washington media over the last week or so, as the lack of substantive progress towards stopping the sequester has left pundits and reporters with little else to talk about,” he writes.
All that said, here’s our second reaction: What pros!
Watch them go at it. Whether Hannity had an idea that his guest would explode or not, he rolls with it pretty well. You can see that he knows he’s about to get the same kind of free media publicity that Piers Morgan got when that pro-gun guest Alex Jones went wild on his show.
That’s why Hannity just lets it go on. If he truly wanted to argue, he’d have hit the kill button earlier. He let it last about six minutes, which is about as long as any guest interview goes before they cut to something else. In that sense, he won. He got what his producers wanted. He’s getting tons of attention today.
But Ellison is going to be hero to many on the left for his rant. And did you notice that he never stopped smiling? Yes, he ranted while trying to look unthreatening. That’s what they teach you in media appearance school. If nothing else, Ellison’s press secretary must have been proud.