Fox News host Sean Hannity has done upwards of 40 soft interviews with Donald Trump, so it’s no wonder that Sen. Ted Cruz sounded a bit touchy this week in an interview with Hannity. After the conservative host asked Cruz about his enterprising strategy of securing delegates for a possible second ballot at this summer’s Republican National Convention, Cruz snapped back, “The only people asking this question are hardcore Donald Trump supporters.” That was a clear dig at Hannity, who once orchestrated a round of applause for Trump’s idea of barring Muslim entry into the United States.
A combative Hannity responded that he was merely asking a question on the minds of his viewers and listeners.
The dispute was built to last. After all, Hannity is a strong, doctrinaire conservative who, at least on ideological grounds, is unlikely to lock horns with Cruz. And sure enough, today Cruz elaborated on things in an interview on “The Dom Giordano Program.” Asked about the clash, the candidate boasted that he had won “more votes in Wisconsin than Donald Trump won in New York,” though folks won’t get that news on Fox News, he argued.
And then Cruz faced this question: “What do you make of this? … Sean’s a guy that wants a limited-government guy to win and become president, I know that. What the heck is going on with this whole deal here — what should be a home court for a constitutional conservative, there are problems?”
Cruz responded: “Well, listen, Fox News has got to decide what they want to air and what stories they want to tell. I’m not going to worry about who they’re rooting for and what surrogates they put on and what messages they push.”
Bolding added to ease refutation. No, Fox News, in fact, has to decide no such thing. As we’ve noted before, the network has a multitudinous approach to the Trump campaign, and toward others as well. It breaks down sort of like this: “Fox & Friends,” Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity — staples of the network’s opinion programming — promulgate cushy Trump coverage. Primetime anchor Megyn Kelly — and other news programs — deliver appropriately skeptical news coverage. And the Fox News debate team — consisting of Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace — have pretty much brutalized Trump, at least when the candidate has the courage to show up.
Any effort at “deciding” upon the tone and content of coverage, for instance, would require the consent and cooperation of people like O’Reilly and Hannity, two fellows who are going to say what they’re going to say.