War of words: Joe Scarborough, Sean Hannity
By Dylan Byers
Two of cable news’s most outspoken conservatives — one a hard-line Fox News host, the other an MSNBC moderate — launched into a flame war this week over an issue near and dear to the hearts of all cable news hosts: ratings.
On their respective programs on Monday, MSNBC morning co-host Joe Scarborough and Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity leveled cross-channel barbs in which they sought to get under one another’s skin by portraying the other as a ratings-obsessed blowhard lacking for intellectual integrity.
The two men, neither of whom agreed to an interview, seemed to be challenging the opposing ends of the conservative spectrum — Scarborough the alleged racial insensitivity of a far-right conservative; Hannity the supposed spinelessness of a moderate conservative. But in so doing, they drew attention to a fact perhaps neither wanted to address head-on: that each of them — like most big TV personalities — can be extraordinarily touchy about their viewership numbers.
Even if the spat doesn’t drive up viewership numbers, it’s still red meat for each of their respective audiences and another reminder of just how politically polarized the cable wars have become.
The fight started when Scarborough singled out Hannity for his response to President Barack Obama’s remarks about the death of Trayvon Martin. To the president’s assertion that “Trayvon could have been me 35 years ago,” Hannity had asked if Obama meant to imply that that was because both of them had used drugs.
“Is Obama like Trayvon because he smoked pot, did a little blow?” Hannity had asked.
On Monday’s edition of Morning Joe, Scarborough accused Hannity of “ginning this up so badly” that even the far-right conservative Michael Savage had accused Hannity of “using race to gin up his ratings.”
“It seems we keep hearing that Trayvon had it coming because he had pot in his system,” the co-host said. “I keep hearing this from people like Sean Hannity and others on the right. Really? Would we like to go across college campuses in America and tell all white boys that if they have marijuana in their system they are fair game?” Read more at Politico.