The managing editor for conservative political website RedState penned a fiery column to Sean Hannity Wednesday, hours after the talk show host unleashed on the publication for characterizing him as a Donald Trump promoter.
On his afternoon radio program, Hannity reacted to RedState aggregating a ThinkProgress story that noted he had interviewed Trump 41 times and mostly lobbed softballs at the billionaire.
Hannity adamantly defended his coverage of the 2016 race, repeatedly contending he has offered each of the GOP candidates equal time on both his radio and television program.
The conservative personality took issue with RedState for criticizing him and aggregating a "hit piece" from a liberal website.
"What bothers me is that you get so-called conservative sites — they're very pro-Cruz over at RedState. ... So the people at RedState, you know what they did? They took John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's surrogate hit-piece website, and they didn't interview and go and research this themselves," Hannity told his audience. "All they did was a cut and paste of what Podesta put up there!"
"This is ridiculous that this is how people act," he later added. "And here's the worst part about it. I don't care that John Podesta does it. Who gives a flying rip what he does? I expect them not to be insane. But when our fellow conservative websites want to kill each other like this? How counterproductive is that? So stupid."
RedState Managing Editor Leon Wolf fired back in a column, writing that "the furor over Hannity’s softball treatment of Trump has clearly gotten to Hannity."
Wolf argued that Hannity's "simplistic response" missed "the point of the article."
The complaint we raised at RedState (and, quite frankly, which was noted with 100% accuracy by ThinkProgress) was not about the number of interviews given to Donald Trump, it was about the fact that when Hannity “interviews” Trump, he does so without generating any actual news or friction at all.
The last time Hannity had Cruz on his show, he spouted Trump-generated talking points at Cruz, to the point that Cruz’s campaign mused openly during the interview that they might never appear on Hannity’s show again. Hannity has likewise blasted Marco Rubio as an inauthentic flip-flopper on immigration. Hannity has aggressively grilled Rand Paul on his views about the military, foreign intervention, and torture.
When he interviews Donald Trump, it’s mostly to confront him about how awesome he is. And that was the point of the piece.
The RedState editor alleged Hannity is "actively helping Trump defray controversies that should be harming him with conservative voters."
"We know when someone is pro-Trump and only pretending to be neutral," Wolf wrote. "Hannity’s protestations to the contrary are insulting to the intelligence of his own audience and definitely insulting to the intelligence of the writers here at RedState."
Hannity has come under fire from other conservatives for his coverage of Trump. Most notably, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) confronted the radio host at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March and told him that what he is doing is "bull."
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