Despite having previously declared himself “not a journalist,” Sean Hannity on Friday demanded he be taken seriously as a news reporter by his colleagues at Fox News.
In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, the right-wing firebrand criticized his colleague Shepard Smith for describing the Fox News opinion lineup as entertainment rather than informative.
“While Shep is a friend with political views I do not share, and great at breaking news, he is clueless about what we do every day. Hannity breaks news daily-Warrant on a Trump assoc, the unmasking scandal, leaking intel, Fisa abuse, HRC lawbreaking, dossier and more REAL NEWS! 9p,” Hannity wrote on Twitter.
During the 2016 election, however, Hannity boasted on Twitter to a critic: “I’m not a journalist jackass. I’m a talk host.” In another instance, he wrote: “I host an OPINION PROGRAM.”
His fellow Fox primetime star Laura Ingraham joined in, admonishing Smith for his comments, claiming her staff has sources like any real reporter would.
“Always liked Shep, but his comments were inconsiderate & inaccurate. The hard working team at the Ingraham Angle does real reporting, develops impt sources and scores big interviews. Very proud of them,” she wrote on Twitter.
As one of the network’s original news personalities, Smith has emerged as a prominent voice at the network skeptical of President Donald Trump and—somewhat more subtly—some of the network’s own opinion-heavy, fact-free right-wing programming decisions.
“I get it,” Smith told Time magazine on Thursday, “that some of our opinion programming is there strictly to be entertaining. I get that. I don’t work there. I wouldn’t work there. I don’t want to sit around and yell at each other and talk about your philosophy and my philosophy. That sounds horrible to me.”
Thursday’s interview wasn’t the first time Smith publicly pushed back on the network’s partisan voices.
In November 2017, Smith dedicated an entire segment to debunking the theory that there was a connection between an Obama-era uranium deal and Clinton Foundation donations. Hannity was perhaps the most outspoken proponent of the story, saying Clinton foundation’s actions amounted to “what we call pay-to-play.”
In turn, Hannity has repeatedly been dismissive of Smith’s political coverage in the Trump era. Last year, the primetime host insisted that he “liked” Smith, but lamented he was “so anti-Trump.”
Some parts of Fox News’ brass seemed to agree with Smith’s assessment of the breakdown between news and opinion-tainment.
In Thursday’s Time interview, Fox’s president of news Jay Wallace implied that the network’s main competition was the entertainment industry.
“People may turn on the network and get pissed at whoever’s on, but the storytelling that we have and the way that we break stories down is so important and compelling, they don’t leave,” he said. “And when they do leave, they’re probably going to turn on Netflix.”