You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Why Sean Hannity Can’t Win a Media Feud With Jon Stewart (VIDEO)

Other than the not-inconsequential egos of cable-news personalities, it’s hard to see Fox News’ end game in its recent tit-for-tat squabbles with “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” – with the latest salvo coming from Sean Hannity.

Stewart has had a field day lampooning Hannity’s support of renegade rancher Cliven Bundy, which prompted Hannity to shoot back with his customary guilt-by-association approach, slamming Stewart for bringing the singer Yusuf Islam to his “Rally to Restore Sanity.”

But that’s where “The Daily Show’s” crack research team ensures that these kinds of exchanges aren’t really a fair fight. Because not only was Stewart able to retaliate with his own you-associate-with-crazy-musicians clip – putting Hannity together with Ted Nugent – but then a litany of Hannity segments that appear to expose his righteous indignation as partisan hackery, his commitment to principle dictated by whose ox is getting gored in any particular situation.

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook,Daily Show Video Archive

As with any host who stakes out sides as vigorously as Hannity does, the tale of the tape is not always his friend – riddled with contradictions that, as Stewart noted, betray his “blind partisan impulses.” And while these sorts of media feuds ostensibly benefit both parties – scoring points with their respective bases – in this case, Hannity is simply preaching to a choir that surely dismisses Stewart for his liberalism every bit as much as Hannity does, while Stewart is painting a broader, more damning portrait of Fox News hypocrisy for a younger audience that almost surely sees Hannity only when his more out-there moments earn him exposure on Stewart’s (or Stephen Colbert’s) program.

What’s interesting is that lately, for whatever reason, Fox hosts seem to be punching back more at the Comedy Central duo, from “The Five’s” Eric Bolling – about as close to a Hannity clone as the network has – swapping jabs with Stewart over food stamps to Bill O’Reilly going out of his way to badmouth CBS’ choice of Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman.

O’Reilly defended his analysis as being based on Colbert having alienated a sizable chunk of his potential audience, but it couldn’t help but be perceived in some quarters as sour grapes for having been mocked by the Comedy Central host through the years.

Clearly, Stewart’s exalted role in the media ecosystem makes him more than strictly a comedian, but that’s always his fallback position. And it’s worth noting he hardly confines his criticism to Fox News – although it remains his favorite target – having been brutal on CNN (most recently for its Malaysian Airlines coverage) and occasionally MSNBC and other networks.

For Hannity, who approaches every episode of his program as another 12-round bout with liberals and Democrats, Stewart might appear to be just another sparring partner — and he will no doubt claim Stewart has an unfair advantage because of all the left-leaning media in his corner. From outside the ring, however, this week’s exchange simply left Hannity looking like someone so accustomed to letting loose with haymakers as to have exposed his own glass jaw.

More Voices

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    WGA, Agents Face Tough Issues on New Franchise Pact (Column)

    The Writers Guild of America and the major talent agencies are seven weeks away from a deadline that could force film and TV writers to choose between their agents and their union. This is a battle that has been brewing for a year but few in the industry saw coming until a few weeks ago. [...]

  • FX Confronts Streaming Thanks to Disney

    Kicking and Screaming, FX Is Forced to Confront Future in the Stream (Column)

    During his network’s presentation at the winter Television Critics Assn. press tour, FX chief John Landgraf made waves — and headlines — by mounting perhaps his most direct criticism yet of Netflix. Landgraf, whose briefings to the press tend to rely heavily on data about the volume of shows with which FX’s competitors flood the [...]

  • Longtime TV Editor Recalls Working for

    How a Bad Director Can Spoil the Show (Guest Column)

    I have been blessed with editing some of TV’s greatest shows, working with some of the industry’s greatest minds. “The Wonder Years,” “Arrested Development,” “The Office,” “Scrubs,” “Pushing Daisies” and, most recently, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I have earned an Emmy, ACE Eddie Awards, and many nominations. But whatever kudos I’ve received, over my [...]

  • Stock market Stock buyback

    Stock Buybacks Leave Firms Without Funds to Invest in Future (Column)

    Corporate giants on the S&P 500 have spent more than $720 billion during the past year on stock buybacks. Media and entertainment firms account for only a fraction of that spending, but even $1 million spent on share repurchases seems a foolhardy expenditure at this transformational moment for the industry. The record level of spending [...]

  • Hollywood Has Come Far With Diversity

    An Insider's Look at Hollywood's Diversity Efforts and How Far It Still Needs to Go

    I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. I am compelled to write about diversity in Hollywood because “diversity” — in front of and behind the camera [...]

  • Venice Film Festival A Star is

    How Venice, Toronto and Telluride Festivals Stole Cannes' Luster (Column)

    In all the years I’ve been attending film festivals, I have never seen a lineup that looked as good on paper as Venice’s did this fall, boasting new films by Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”), Damien Chazelle (“First Man”), Paul Greengrass (“22 July”), Mike Leigh (“Peterloo”) and the Coen brothers (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) in competition, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content