One of his biggest fans is President Donald Trump, who routinely watches the TV show and talks with Sean as a fellow New Yorker. Hannity played a major role in helping Trump get the nomination and win the general election." Trevor Noah and Jimmy Kimmel ...
Mark Joyella , Contributor I cover political media--and media politics. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Well, Sean Hannity is having himself quite a year.
The Fox News Channel host has become the most popular and powerful prime time host on the most popular and powerful cable news network, attracting an average nightly audience of more than three million viewers. And he's got a big backer in Donald Trump, who has called Hannity a "big ratings getter" and a "great guy (with great ratings)" on Twitter, where he often urges his 51 million followers to tune in:
And now Hannity's made the TIME 100. The annual list of the world's most influential people is no small achievement, but it's especially noteworthy that TIME's editors didn't put Hannity in the category of artist, icon or pioneer. You'll find Hannity in the "leaders" category alongside Trump, Nancy Pelosi, China's president, Xi Jinping, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Why Hannity? Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich writes in the magazine, "[Hannity's] fans listen to him and learn from him. One of his biggest fans is President Donald Trump, who routinely watches the TV show and talks with Sean as a fellow New Yorker. Hannity played a major role in helping Trump get the nomination and win the general election."
Trevor Noah and Jimmy Kimmel made the TIME 100, as a "pioneer" and "artist," respectively, but Hannity's detractors will surely cringe to see the Fox News host among the world's most powerful leaders. NBC's Today co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb were named "leaders" also, an honor they revealed to NBC viewers Thursday morning, in a segment that did not mention Sean Hannity.
Hannity, for his part, has not celebrated his inclusion in the TIME 100, taking time Wednesday to respond to a Washington Post story citing numerous un-named sources describing Hannity's influence in the Oval Office. One source called Hannity "the 'shadow' chief of staff, rivaling White House chief of staff John F. Kelly in terms of influence. Whenever Trump is irritated by his staff, he turns to outside allies, and Hannity is usually atop the call list."
Hannity called the WaPo story "total BS."
Another Washington Post story asked "Is Sean Hannity a Journalist or Not?" The story questioned whether Hannity misled viewers by failing to disclose his ties to Trump attorney Michael Cohen during interviews and coverage that involved both President Trump and Cohen. Hannity says--as he has many times before--that he is not, but is a talk show host.
In one of his tweets Wednesday, Hannity also repeated the phrases "advocacy journalist" and "opinion journalist," which he has used at times before, and which seem--at least to journalists--to be entirely contradictory. Either you're giving an opinion, or you're reporting the news, and you can't honestly do both at the same time.
But for Hannity and Fox News, it may be more important not what journalists think, but what Hannity's audience thinks: they keep tuning in night after night, pushing Hannity to the top, and now there's an argument to be made that he can add "world leader" to his titles.
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