Donald Trump’s Sean Hannity interview from Monday’s radio show.
Fox News host Sean Hannity will guest-host “The O’Reilly Factor” on Tuesday night for the first time in six years. The veteran host last appeared on the primetime program on June 9, 2013. As well as the primetime program, Hannity will be appearing on the morning show “Fox & Friends” that morning.
Hannity said in a statement about the return, “Megyn Kelly had to go, Bill O’Reilly had to go, and Bill Shine is taking his spot. I haven’t been here in over six years and it’s been a great honor for me.”
Hannity has become the most popular personality on the network during a period in which Fox News has faltered in the ratings department. “O’Reilly Factor” has consistently had the most valuable audience of any prime-time cable news program for the past few years. Hannity has also gradually edged out his on-air rival and Fox News CEO, Bill O’Reilly, who stepped down amid sexual harassment charges earlier this year.
With Hannity’s surprise reappearance, the annual battle between O’Reilly and the cable news host Donald Trump has always seemed like a foregone conclusion, with Hannity positioning himself as a much more pro-Trump voice on the Fox News airwaves and O’Reilly regularly claiming that Hannity is more Trump’s supporter than O’Reilly is. But this feud has never gotten more intense than this time around, with Hannity regularly slamming O’Reilly on Twitter and O’Reilly regularly hitting back. In his statement about Hannity’s return, O’Reilly took the opportunity to celebrate his rival again.
“Sean got kicked off my show when I was running the network, and I had to fire him to keep the network profitable — and there was no comparison as far as popularity,” O’Reilly said. “But it’s a great thing that Sean is back here on the show,” he added.
“And if anybody watches my show, they know he can’t be taken seriously,” O’Reilly added. “Sean deserves it. I’ve always said that.”
Throughout the years, the two Fox News hosts had feuded over various topics and Hannity not only refrained from joining O’Reilly during this one but he repeatedly accused O’Reilly of tanking the network’s ratings with a hostile agenda that pitted left-wing viewers against those who favored the Republican Party.
Recently, O’Reilly has sought to repair the damage with Fox News’s conservative audience, but earlier this week, the former Fox News host dismissed Hannity’s post-election interview of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as a “horse**” that “wasn’t even a form of horse-hating.”
O’Reilly also asserted that Hannity has a track record for promoting himself. Hannity has defended his ratings and interests on the network by contrasting himself with O’Reilly, who courted viewers with an ideological bent.
“Megyn became popular because she was very respectful and Jay-Hummel [Ainsley Earhardt] and I weren’t. We were straight out with it,” Hannity said, in what may have been another clear signal that the two Fox News hosts will be forced to not only get along, but will also mutually share audiences.
In some of the clips posted on YouTube of Hannity’s latest interview with the president, Trump did what he might do as the ratings leader of all cable news networks. In a somewhat confusing remark, Trump congratulated Hannity for making the “greatest show in cable news.” Trump later apologized for comments made in a press conference, in which he accused former President Barack Obama of being involved in helping former President Bill Clinton leave the White House with the “Best POTUS. Ever.”
Trump further committed some damage by questioning whether he should have done any fundraising for Democratic candidates in 2012, where he faced allegations of sexual misconduct — charges that have helped diminish his reputation at the network that most commentators thought was his election surrogate.
Despite their shared interests, Hannity’s return to prime time on Monday is unlikely to be the last as the ratings giant seems determined to beat O’Reilly’s resurgent “Factor” for audience share in primetime.