How did the mighty fall?
Sean Hannity was on top of the world during the Trump administration. With the ousting of his longtime Fox News colleague and nemesis Bill O’Reilly in April 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct, Hannity quickly went from second fiddle to the most-watched host in cable news. And he stayed there for years.
The veteran Fox News host was not only cheerleading for Donald Trump, attracting nearly 4 million viewers each night, but was also widely considered the then-president’s shadow chief of staff. When Trump wasn’t calling in for an “exclusive” interview on his show, Hannity was calling the president late at night and acting as an informal adviser.
But at the end of Trump’s tenure, Tucker Carlson — who essentially replaced O’Reilly in prime time —Replaced Hannity as top dog at Fox News.. Conservative cable viewers were far more interested in Carlson’s brand of Trumpism. Far-right nationalismExcited Anti-immigrant rhetoricAnd COVID truism And with it Hannity’s increasingly stale Trump-boosterism (and Hillary Clinton’s Insatiable Obsession).
And the long hunt — now Longest-running cable news host In history—he has traveled to a post-Trump world, the further he has fallen from the top of the ratings mountain.
A network spokesperson wrote, “We envy every other network that gets to compete after beating everything else in cable, but no other host in the industry has Sean Hannity’s longevity and staying power.” does not have the power,” a network spokesperson wrote. “FOX News Media is proud that its number one show at 9PM has been an integral part of our primetime lineup and a key part of our success for 26 years.”
After already ranking a solid third in Fox News viewership leading up to the 2020 election, the late-afternoon panel show Five– Featuring Fox News veterans Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Waters.Finally passed Hanty into second place in August 2021., and haven’t looked back since. In fact, culture war-driven gabfests have even surpassed it. Tucker Carlson tonight As the most-watched show in all of cable news. (However, Carlson’s show regularly draws more viewers in the 25-54 advertising demographic.)
As a result of Fox News’ brief ratings decline following Trump’s election loss, the network shook up its weekday lineup and leaned more toward a more pronounced right-wing commentary. As a result Boating anchors “Straight News” at 7 p.m Martha McCallum to mid-afternoon and replaced her hour with a nightly opinion talk show.
Finally, after a year of filling the time slot with a rotating series of hosts, the network awarded Waters the hour last January. Known for his ambush interviews and A passion for conflict resolutionOnce O’Reilly wrote Fox’s star has risen quickly.. Like Gutfeld, who recently launched one. Popular weeknight talk showWatters hosted a highly rated weekend program for several years.
Jesse Waters Prime Time The right-wing cable giant was an instant hit with audiences, immediately dominating its time slot and quickly becoming one of the top five shows on cable.
By spring, the early evening program had passed Hannity’s prime-time offering in total audience, averaging 2.92 million viewers to Hannity’s 2.89 million. In AprilHannity, however, maintained a slim lead over Waters in key demographics.
Hannity’s show was worth it Make your way to third place For the second quarter of the year, it averaged 2.73 million total viewers to Waters’ 2.69 million. Jesse Waters Prime Time In the advertising population by about 50,000 viewers. But June and July told a different story. Water again Outpaced Hannity in total viewers Closing the gap in the 25-54 demographic in June. Next month, Waters Increase your lead in overall audience by more than 100,000 viewers and came within 13,000 of Hannity in the key advertising demographic.
Of course, while Hannity’s ratings dominance on Fox is long gone, he routinely tops his rivals on both CNN and MSNBC (especially now that Rachel Maddow only airs once a week doing). Additionally, Hannity’s show has gained more viewers overall than this time last year, up seven percent in total viewers.
The steady rise of Carlson, Gutfeld, and Waters — more “owners of the libs” culture warriors than card-carrying Trumpists — while Hannity, a member of Trump’s inner circle, continues to sink is not easily accounted for. A growing idea That the network is distancing itself from Trump’s personality gap.
Even as the Murdoch-owned editorial board has attacked Trump over the January 6 revelations, and Fox News has not interviewed the former president in months.Trump’s presence Fox still has everyone covered.. Additionally, although they are less directly involved in Trump World, Carlson, Gutfeld and Waters continue to interject on behalf of the former president, often singing his praises, or Yukking with it in its Saudi-backed golf tournament.
Instead, the most likely explanation comes from Hannity’s inability to adapt to the changing landscape of the right-wing media—after decades of loyally defending and, above all, talking about the Republican Party. has moved into deeper ideological territory.
“The main thing about Hannity is that he’s not an ideas guy. He’s a cheerleader,” explained Matthew Sheffield, a former right-wing media personality criticized. Before launching flow, an independent media outlet, was co-founder of Sheffield Newsbusters, a right-wing watchdog regularly featured on Hannity’s show and Fox programming. In recent years, Sheffield has become A vocal critic of the conservative mediaMuch of his energy is now spent on how to “harmful“It’s been in front of the American people.
“[Hannity] Not a creative person. He just wants the same guests talking about the same things all the time,” he continued. “And for the more angry, reactionary, Christian types, that’s not enough for them anymore. They want more anger, more ambition. And they certainly don’t want to hear what Lindsey Graham has to say.
This analysis of Hannity’s fall from grace was echoed by Andrew Lawrence, deputy director of rapid response at the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America.
“I think the formation of the Republican Party is diminishing their influence,” Lawrence said. “I think they’re following the lead of the ‘Blood and Soil’ foundation, which is where Tucker draws his influence from. And I think Fox News has kind of moved to that ‘Blood and Soil.’ Clay’ could try to appeal on the grounds that Republicans are more likely to be elected.
Sheffield, meanwhile, notes that hosts like Carlson, Gutfeld and Waters seem to understand better than Hannity that Fox’s die-hard viewers generally find themselves constantly besieged and saddened—that they’re more of an elitist, hated and excluded, larger. Liberal in scale. Culture
“What Waters gives them is he tries to turn it on its head and make fun of the left,” Sheffield explained. Instead of just trotting, making snide remarks. [establishment Republican lawmakers] out again.”
Lawrence similarly suggested that Waters ET may Allah have mercy on him Better fitting the network’s current business model revolves largely around “creating the cycles of anger” and preventing culture war conflict. Hannity, on the other hand, seems to draw headlines simply because of his connection to Trump’s time in office. “His conflicts come. [when] It came out during congressional hearings that Trump was referred to as x, y, or z in his texts,” Lawrence remarked.
Another possible explanation for Hannity’s decline in Fox viewership is his frequent guest appearances, Sheffield said. While Sean Graham, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Fox News punching bag Geraldo Rivera were once staples of the network’s overall programming, such guests are now viewed with general skepticism by the ideological right.
“They hate those people. And if you look at these other shows, they’re not bringing those people in,” asserts Sheffield. “He’s like a loyal dog that will just keep coming back to the house, because it’s the only one he knows.”
Lawrence was far more succinct in his overall assessment of Hannity’s decline: “His show is just bad television right now.”