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Fox News programming and talent breaks down into two camps: news shows anchored by the likes of Bret Baier, Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace, and opinion shows hosted by talent like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. Hannity doesn’t consider himself a “journalist,” but the network’s news anchors most certainly do.
There’s always been a bit of tension between these two parts of the organization, but that tension rarely spills out into public sight. It did Friday afternoon, however, when Hannity said on Twitter that Smith is “clueless” about what the opinion side of the company does — while still calling him a “friend” who is “great at breaking news.”
Hannity was responding to comments made by Smith in a profile of the anchor published by Time magazine Thursday.
“They don’t really have rules on the opinion side,” Smith said in the piece. “They can say whatever they want. If it’s their opinion. I don’t really watch a lot of opinion programming. I’m busy.” Smith, who signed a multiyear deal Thursday to remain with the network for several more years, also said that “some of our opinion programming is there strictly to be entertaining.”
In response, Hannity tweeted: “While Shep is a friend with political views I do not share, and great at breaking news, he is clueless about what we do every day. Hannity breaks news daily-Warrant on a Trump assoc, the unmasking scandal, leaking intel, Fisa abuse, HRC lawbreaking, dossier and more REAL NEWS! 9p“
Ingraham also criticized Smith in a tweet. “Always liked Shep, but his comments were inconsiderate & inaccurate,” she wrote. “The hard working team at the Ingraham Angle does real reporting, develops impt sources and scores big interviews. Very proud of them.”
Fox News president of news Jay Wallace, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in January, pushed back on the idea that there’s tension between the news and opinion sides of the company. “As much as people want to try to pit news versus opinion, this place was built on doing both,” he said.
Wallace continued: “We have really stuck to a formula of having great journalists on the field…, but alongside people like Hannity, Laura [Ingraham] now, Tucker…. There’s constant incoming on it, but I do feel like we’ve never shied away from it. We’ve always said that we have strong opinion and strong news.”
In November, Smith drew attention for doing a take-down explainer on the Uranium One controversy that the network’s opinion hosts, most notably Hannity, got a lot of mileage out of by challenging the findings of Smith’s report.
Fox News has not commented on the war of words between Hannity and Smith.
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