Sean Hannity addressed his feud with Jimmy Kimmel Monday night, responding to the late-night host’s recent apology with an invitation to appear on Fox News and a threat to step up his attacks on Kimmel if the conflict continued.
In a monologue at the end of his show, Hannity read a statement that Kimmel issued Sunday apologizing for potentially offensive language used during the to hosts’ heated Twitter exchange last week. “It appears to be more of a forced corporate Disney apology directed more toward the LGBTQ community rather than about Kimmel’s comments about the First Lady,” Hannity said. “But honestly that’s ultimately up to you to decide here. I believe everyone should accept apologies. That’s how I was raised. That’s what my religion teaches me. And I’m going to assume he’s sincere. But from my perspective, I do kind of enjoy a good fight, and I do agree with Jimmy in the sense that it’s time to move on.”
Hannity also invited Kimmel to appear as a guest on his Fox News program. “Jimmy, you seem focused on politics,” Hannity said. “You seemed sincere when you talked about healthcare. You seem sincere when you talk about the country. I want to extend an invitation. You want to come on this show, I promise no name calling, no anger, no rehashing of the Twitter fight. You want to have a serious discussion, we can talk about the president, his policies, healthcare, comedy, political correctness, ending boycotts, how I’ve supported Bill Maher, Howard Stern, Don Imus, Opie and Anthony — people that I’ve disagreed with vehemently. My bet is that you’ll actually agree with me on a lot more issues than you think.”
The fight between the two hosts began last week when Hannity, on his Fox News show, called Kimmel an “ass clown” for jokes Kimmel made during the week about First Lady Melania Trump at Sunday’s White House Easter Egg Roll. On “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Thursday night, Kimmel called Hannity an “ass clown circus.”
The feud spilled over into Twitter Friday when Hannity began taunting Kimmel, posting clips from “The Man Show,” the Comedy Central variety series that Kimmel hosted with Adam Carolla prior to the launch of his ABC late-night program.
Hannity promised Monday night that “it’s over with Jimmy Kimmel,” but also indicated that he would rekindle the fight if provoked, adding, “By the way, Jimmy, if you do want to start up again, I promise I’ll punch back even harder.”
Following Hannity’s program, Laura Ingraham returned to cable news channel Monday night after taking a week off amid mounting advertising pressure against her show.
The opinion host sprinkled references to the boycott and her recent absence from TV at the top of her show, telling Hannity in the 10 p.m. handover, “Did anything happen while I was gone?” and “I’m glad I don’t have a Google alert on my own name.”
Ingraham devoted large chunks of her program to what she characterized as conservative voices that have been unfairly targeted by a liberal power establishment, including two commentators who had access to their Facebook followers limited and a Marquette University professor who was suspended over a blog post criticizing same-sex marriage.
At the end of her show, Ingraham announced a new series that she promised would focus more attention on the alleged throttling of conservative voices. She criticized “the left killing free speech and silencing contrary voices via intimidation and sometimes slander.” She added, “The left will brook no dissent, and they will militantly police the borders of their stale orthodoxy. Well, we’re not going to stand for this.” She promised to “expose the enemies of the First Amendment, of free expression, of free thought.”
A large-scale advertiser boycott against Ingraham took shape this month following comments the host made mocking one of the survivors of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. As more and more advertisers said that they would pull their spots from her show, Ingraham announced that she would be going on what was billed as a pre-planned vacation. Guest hosts filled in for her last week, and Fox News executives sought to assure viewers that Ingraham would return to her 10 p.m. perch after her vacation. “We cannot and will not allow voices to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts,” said Jack Abernethy, co-president of the 21st Century Fox-owned cable outlet, said in a statement last week.