Updated: One day after taking swings at each other over GOP candidate Donald Trumo, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity have buried the hatchet, as their employer, Fox News Channel prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Both primetime stars tweeted the identical photo and message; Kelly also wrapped tonight’s show by throwing to Hannity, saying, “Up next live, Sean Hannity, my friend.” Peace!:
Previous, 5 PM: Despite the best efforts of on-staff planners, Fox News Channel is kind of staggering toward Friday’s official 20th anniversary date after a bad couple of days in which two of its biggest stars got into a very public brawl. Adding to the network’s headaches, a Chinatown segment on its most watched show, hosted by yet another of its biggest stars, got blasted all the way to the New York mayor’s office.
As FNC’s party planners were performing the challenging task of putting finishing touches on platinum anniversary commemoration plans in the wake of Roger Ailes’ sudden and sensational departure, Sean Hannity finally took pop at Megyn Kelly via Twitter on Wednesday, after taking several incoming from the cable news network’s primetime It Girl.
It all started when Kelly, on her The Kelly File, criticized the Republican presidential nominee for refusing to be interviewed outside of the safe zone of Hannity’s show: “Donald Trump, with all due respect to my friend at 10 o’clock, will go on Hannity, and pretty much only Hannity, and will not venture out to the unsafe spaces these days which doesn’t exactly expand the tent for either one of them,” Kelly said.
Hannity, whose bromance with Trump is a thing of discussion in TV news circles during this election cycle, responded via Twitter, hurling the worst insult he could think of:
In fairness, it had only been a week since Kelly has last had thrown shade at Hannity, on the night of the first presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
As Hannity interviewed Trump post-debate from whatever hallway was standing in as the GOP spin room, Kelly said, on air: “We’ve got Trump speaking to our own Sean Hannity. We’ll see whether he speaks to the journalists in this room, after that interview.”
That not-so-subtle dig generated many headlines.
Kelly might have been a bit peeved because, about 60 minutes earlier, Trump had given Hannity a huge wet debate kiss when he mentioned the FNC star by name, no less than eight times in two minutes, and seen by a record 84 million viewers. The recitation of Hannity’s name came during Trump’s refutation of moderator Lester Holt’s assertion the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star initially had endorsed of the war in Iraq:
That incredible on-air plug totally trumped, so to speak, Kelly’s own Trump debate moment, way back in August 2015, when she asked him to explain why someone who called women “pigs” should become our next POTUS. Kelly’s debate moment only clocked about 24M people, though Trump’s subsequent “You could bee blood coming out of her — wherever” reax to Kelly’s question, the next night on Don Lemon’s CNN show, is credited with making her a household name.
But last week’s post-debate snark is not the first time Kelly has dinged Hannity. Way back in February, on Stephen Colbert’s post-Super Bowl Late Show, Colbert noted the program was live that night, as is The Kelly File every weeknight.
“I love it. I think it adds a lot to the show. If you’re not live at 9 – because the shows around me are taped – you lose a lot, ” she smiled archly.
Hanity’s show, and Bill O’Reilly’s — between which Kelly’s is sandwiched on FNC’s schedule — are “phoning it in,” Colbert suggested, throwing Kelly an opening.
“Let’s just say they tape earlier in the day, which is an advantage to us,” Kelly replied, smiling, still archly.
“Wow,” Colbert responded, as his studio audience gasped and tittered.
The Kelly-Hannity rumble isn’t even the only fire Fox News Channel minders had to put out in what should have been a celebratory week for the nation’s most-watched cable news network.
On Wednesday, Jesse Watters finally issued a statement via Twitter when the hue and cry got loud enough over a” Watters’ World” segment he did earlier this week for The O’Reilly Factor in which he visited New York’s Chinatown. In the segment, Watters asked people their thoughts on the election; if he’s supposed to bow when he addresses them; if the watches they’re selling are hot; if, in China, they called “Chinese food just ‘food’”; etc. When not confusing his Chinese stereotypes with his Japanese stereotypes, Watters explained he was foisting himself on Chinatown because Trump has made attacking China a centerpiece of his campaign.
O’Reilly forecast, correctly, on air that the segment would be subject to pushback. When it reached a certain threshold, and maybe because it aired in the walk-up to Friday’s anniversary, Watters eventually tweeted out a statement in which he said, “My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense.”
New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, was having none of it and tweeted his suggestion to FNC, as it looks to its next 20 years, considers retiring the franchise: