At least, that’s what Fox News and its public-relations apparatus would have you believe.
On Thursday night, Kelly and Hannity both tweeted out from their respective personal Twitter accounts a photo—forced smiles, identical captions, virtually the same photo—of the pair posing together on a Fox News set.
“We’re Irish. It’s complicated. #friends,” both hosts posted to Twitter within a minute of each other.
The staged reconciliation—which resembles a détente achieved by gunpoint and anxious execs— came after Hannity (who supports Trump to the point of being an unpaid campaign adviser who writes unsolicited policy memos for the GOP nominee) sent a nasty tweet Kelly’s way.
“u should be mad at @HillaryClinton Clearly you support her. And @realDonaldTrump did talk to u,” Hannity tweeted directly at Kelly on Wednesday night, accusing her of being in the tank for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. (Kelly has not voiced support for Clinton; she did however famously feud with Trump over his sexism, but subsequently quelled tensions in a poorly reviewed softball interview in May.)
When one of Hannity’s Twitter followers asked him to “stand by” his colleague, he replied, “Sure. When they stand by me.”
Hannity’s hissy tweets were in response to a comment Kelly made on her primetime Fox program, in which she knocked both Trump and Clinton for refusing to visit “unsafe spaces” and less cozy interviewers in the media.
“Donald Trump, with all due respect to my friend at 10 o’clock,” she said Wednesday, referring to Hannity whose show follows hers, “will go on Hannity and pretty much only Hannity, and will not venture out to the unsafe spaces these days.”
Kelly did not address the controversy on the Thursday edition of her show The Kelly File, but did sign off at the end of her hour by throwing to “Sean Hannity, my friend,” in a conspicuous gesture of overcompensation.
Kelly and Hannity are still “#friends” in the same way that Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton were once married. Their latest skirmish is merely the latest in a long-running history of hard feelings and thrown shade between the two Fox personalities.
This would be true no matter how many ties Hannity tweets that this was just a “minor” disagreement between pals.
Multiple Fox News staffers, both current and former, talked to The Daily Beast about the years-long bad blood between Kelly and Hannity. Simply put, the two do not like each other. At all. On Hannity’s end, there is longstanding bitterness and sense of betrayal, and on Kelly’s, a barely veiled lack of respect.
(Internally, at Fox News, rivalries among top talent are a common occurrence. Egos and personalities clash constantly, and it is widely known within the industry that, for instance, Bill O’Reilly and Hannity can’t stand each other, either.)
“[Kelly] is not afraid to make herself known as the most valuable person, in many ways, at the network,” one former Fox insider said. “And that upsets a lot of people. Including Sean. Perhaps especially Sean.”
After all, Kelly’s rise as a super-star at Fox News (which has aggressively pitched her over the years as the “good,” serious, neutral anchor despite her past hard-right excesses and racially problematic work) directly affected Hannity’s standing at the network. In 2013, The Kelly File took over Hannity’s coveted 9 p.m. primetime slot, bumping Hannity to 10 p.m. ET, where his eponymous, Trump-boosting show resides to this very day.
Hannity was evicted after 17 years in glorious primetime. And it’s inspired a bitter taste that he’s had to smile through for the past three years.
“[I’m] actually enjoying people that really don’t know a whole lot, just going nuts,” he said on his radio show in late 2013, pushing back on reports and speculation of his displeasure at the shakeup. “So I’m going to leave it there, just for fun … Let’s just say in the end, I’m very happy [and] that’s all I can say at this point.”
And during the course of the 2016 presidential election, Kelly has repeatedly made very public digs at her 10 p.m. colleague and alleged buddy.
In February, Kelly went on Stephen Colbert’s late-night show to talk about why her series is superior to Hannity’s and O’Reilly’s. “I think it adds a lot to [my] show,” Kelly said. “If you’re not live at night—because the show before me and the show after me are taped—you lose a lot.”
“Let’s just say they tape earlier in the day, which is an advantage to us,” she continued.
Following the first presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Kelly seemingly belittled her Fox colleague during the network’s live post-game coverage.
“We’ve got Trump speaking to our own Sean Hannity,” she said on-air, narrating Trump’s post-debate conversation with his informal adviser and political ally Hannity. “We’ll see if he speaks to the journalists in this room after that interview.”
(To be fair, that was a condescending remark that Hannity would, at least begrudgingly, agree with: Hannity does not consider himself a “journalist,” per se, and makes his pro-Trump enthusiasm nakedly clear whenever he can. This has included cutting an official ad for the Trump campaign and defying Fox News internal rules and guidelines.)
Comparatively, the insults and hurt feelings between Hannity and Kelly is a less significant saga for a network still engulfed in controversy and scandal.
Earlier this year, during the deluge of sexual-harassment accusations against Roger Ailes that eventually forced out the Fox News mastermind, some of Kelly’s colleagues became increasingly angered and frustrated by her refusal to defend Ailes.
“Megyn is being selfish,” an anonymous Fox source told The Daily Beast in July. “It’s pretty shocking actually.”
Multiple Fox sources told The Daily Beast this week that Hannity—ever the Ailes loyalist who said that sexual-harassment allegations against the former Fox News head were “all [bullshit]”—was indeed also irked by Kelly’s deafening silence. It was later reported that Kelly went on to give allegedly damning testimony to an outside law firm hired to investigate Ailes, specifically that he had in fact harassed her as well.
It was yet another data point in the past year that Kelly has had to exist within an office ecosystem largely defined and run by a Trump-loving boys club that only publicly pretends to stick up for her. According to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, when Ailes was in power, he “privately blamed” Kelly for bringing the feud between her and Trump upon herself. Kelly felt (understandably) betrayed by Ailes, her colleagues, and fellow hosts.
“She felt she put herself out there,” one co-worker told New York.
Fox News PR did not respond to a request for comment on this story, and didn’t respond to a request for comment from Kelly. Hannity, who stopped responding to Daily Beast emails seeking comment after we published an exchange in which he refused to shoot down the bizarre, Trump-peddled conspiracy theory that Ted Cruz’s dad helped kill President Kennedy, did not respond, either.