This morning, I’m taking a knee in a not-silent protest over Fox News’s new primetime lineup. On Monday night, Fox rolled out a new attempt to stabilize its wobbling, increasingly directionless schedule. The Five was relocated back from whence it came: 5 p.m., where its core demo can watch it while gnawing at an Early Bird Special dinner. Into its 9 p.m. time period slides Hannity — making room, later this month, for the debut of Laura Ingraham’s promised hour, during which she will perform that trick she does: ascribing profound meaning to President Trump’s Twitter tantrums.
Sean Hannity began his new time-period show on Monday by saying he was going to make two “huge announcements” — surprises he was saving until the final moments of the show. Spoiler alert: Bill O’Reilly will be a guest on Tuesday’s Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh will be interviewed on Thursday. In case you’re running low on vomit bags, I wanted to warn you well in advance.
Hannity seems more than a little nervous about competing against MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in the 9 p.m. hour. It’s one thing to defeat Lawrence “Do you hear that hammering?” O’Donnell at 10 p.m.; it’s another to best Maddow, whose show is a bursting haven for liberal viewers in need of nightly solace. Hannity’s opening monologue, which he has cleverly titled “Opening Monologue,” referred obliquely to the new competition when he said, “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” and “many people want me to fail.” But how could he fail, when he’s providing his viewers exactly what they want to hear? Like all Fox News shows on Monday, Hannity led off with the tale of Trump’s NFL insults and tweets, getting all huffy about any football player with the gall to “take a knee” in protest against racial injustice (in the case of Colin Kaepernick) or against Trump himself (just about every player who knelt this past Sunday, in solidarity with Kaepernick after Trump’s attack). On Fox, a protest against police brutality is no such thing — it is actually “disrespect for the flag” and “something that insults men and women in uniform.”
After explaining to his audience what African-American players really mean when they take a knee, he brought on Newt Gingrich. Did the subject change? Not really. Gingrich talked to Hannity about Hillary Clinton. All three of these people are white, yet Gingrich managed to assert, entirely gratuitously, that Hillary is “a racist demagogue.” Hannity tried to help Newt out by interrupting Gingrich to say, “You meant a racial demagogue, not that she is a racist,” but Gingrich completely ignored Hannity. So he did mean to call Clinton a racist. These appalling people have no shame. I take a knee to pray for their souls.
Hannity airs weeknights at 9 p.m. on Fox News.