Fox News’ Sean Hannity on His Unlikely Relationship with Gavin Newsom: ‘We Just Clicked’

(Fox News)

Fox News’ Sean Hannity on His Unlikely Relationship with Gavin Newsom: ‘We Just Clicked’

Stephen Battaglio

November 26, 2023

Sean Hannity and


Gavin Newsom


an unlikely cable news bromance.

The conservative host of Fox News and

California’s Democratic Governor Newsom

are ideological opposites. But their recent joint performances last an hour

sitting for a long time

in June and a lengthy interview after the second Republican

presidential candidates’

The September 27 debate at the Ronald Reagan Library offered a robust but cordial discussion of issues, a rarity these days in a media landscape where politicians and advocates are more comfortable preaching to their own tribes.

Hannity, who typically cites California’s crime and housing problems as a symbol of everything that’s wrong with Democrats, even sang praises for In-N-Out Burger during his second interview with the governor.

From the first time we met, we just clicked and there was a certain relationship that was like, ‘Oh, come on, you’re not going to believe any of that,'” Hannity said of Newsom in a recent interview at Fox News headquarters. in downtown Manhattan. It was always friendly and never controversial. You can say anything to him. You can have fun with him.

The success of their recent encounters prompted Hannity to take it a step further. He invited Newsom and the governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, to debate his program.

Hannity negotiated terms and details directly with the political rivals, who will meet in a 90-minute showdown Thursday at 6 p.m. Pacific on Fox News.

The matchup is unusual from a TV news perspective

because it is his own

It’s rare for two politicians who aren’t running against each other to get such a high-profile forum. (Fox News calls it “The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate.”)

The last memorable example was on May 15, 1967, when a former California governor, Ronald Reagan, appeared along with Robert F. Kennedy, then New York’s representative in the U.S. Senate, to answer an hour of questions from students who studied abroad at CBS.

“Neither was active at the time,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “They were both ambitious and everyone suspected they would.”

Both men sought their respective parties’ presidential nominations the following year, with Kennedy’s rising campaign ending when he was assassinated shortly after winning California’s Democratic primary.

But it was Reagan who burned his national reputation in the 1967 program, as the polished former actor demonstrated a keen grasp of global affairs. The moment helped propel him to the White House in 1980.

On Thursday, Hannity will question the dueling governors themselves without an audience in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Hannity, 61, has the longest tenure


host in cable news history with 26 years on Fox News. He has survived the major scandals that have hit the organization over time, such as


Fox’s $787.5 million payout to Dominion Voting Systems to settle a defamation lawsuit over the networks reporting on

former president

Trump’s inaccurate claims of voter fraud in 2020 Hannity was not one of the hosts named as defendants in the case, but his show was cited by Judge Eric Davis for broadcasting false statements.

Loyal Fox News viewers who tend to shrug off negative stories about the network have stuck with Hannity. In October, his program was the most-watched cable news show among viewers ages 25 to 54, the demographic group most desired by advertisers.

This week The

The debate offers Fox News the opportunity to host an attention-generating TV event that doesn’t bring in past controversies and could draw a larger sample of viewers who don’t share the world

from his provocative hosts.

Although Hannity personally likes Newsom and respects his political skills (I warned conservatives and Republicans,

you would you

pay closer attention to this man

“), he would not feel comfortable having him in the Oval Office because of their policy differences.

On most nights, Hannity’s program is a one-sided affair, with the host often railing against what he calls the radical left and


Biden’s cognitive capacity

to serve

. During a recent broadcast, the host warmed up his audience with an impersonation of the president, lowering his head and shuffling across the studio floor.

It begs the question why Newsom would want to deal with a potential two-on-one situation where he would be the only liberal.

Nathan Click, an adviser to Newsom, said the governor is fully aware of the challenge.

“We are under no illusions,” Click said. “This is a two-on-one matchup with the referees in the tank for the home team. But Governor Newsom has long believed that Democrats should go on the offensive in enemy territory, and that is exactly what he plans to do. “

Hannity has given assurances that he will not be the wrestling referee who looks the other way while one of the fighters brings a steel chair into the ring. He noted that Newsom was pleased with her first interview.

“I kept my promise to give him a fair chance and let him answer,” Hannity said. “If I have one goal, it’s for people to walk away and say, Wow, that was a good, spirited, healthy, informative debate.

Mike Murphy, a screenwriter and longtime Republican political consultant, said there is value in Newsom’s willingness to appear in a potentially hostile environment as he builds a national reputation.

There’s a feeling sometimes among Democrats that no one is going to go into Fox’s lion’s den with a big stick and fight back, so I think he thinks he can help the broader cause and help himself at the same time, Murphy said. “I’m always in favor of grabbing a microphone and going on the attack, as long as it’s live TV and no one can edit it.”

Newsom has said in the past that he watches conservative media. He is perhaps better known than most Democrats, as his ex-wife is Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former co-host of the Fox News panel show The Five who is now engaged to Donald Trump Jr.

Hannity remembers Newsom visiting Guilfoyle at the network’s offices and studios.

While Murphy believes Newsom’s upcoming performance could help pave the way for a future presidency in the White House, he believes there are short-term risks for Democrats. The governor’s smoothness and strength in front of the camera could lead to more discussion about Biden’s age. The president turned 81 on November 20, which has become a major issue among pollsters and experts.

DeSantis is using the event to promote the idea that Republicans should be prepared for a scenario in which Biden is not the nominee in 2024.

“Hi [Newsom] is running a shadow campaign,” DeSantis told Fox & Friends last week. “Even people in his own party say many Democrats want to oust Biden… You could have Newsom. You could have many different people. But I think it’s important for Republican voters to feel like maybe we’re not going against Biden.”

While Newsom has been steadfast in his support for a second Biden term, his political action committee has run its own ads criticizing the


Florida law

DeSantis signed that ban

abortion in pregnancies longer than six weeks. Newsom’s active role as a White House surrogate for Biden has led to criticism that he is being distracted from handling state affairs.

But DeSantis is no longer the Republican juggernaut he was six months ago, when he entered the race as the party’s best chance to leave the former president behind.



DeSantis The governor, whose office did not respond to a request for comment,

has trailed former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in some polls and has failed to gain any results in the three Republican Party primaries held so far.

“Newsom is not running against the great Republican giant, but against the lame man whose campaign was a disaster,” Murphy said. seems to duplicate with the quote below. think we can cut

Click said

Newsom belongs to the governor

Office was “shocked” when DeSantis accepted the debate challenge, which Newsom issued months ago.

“The fact that he ultimately accepted it while his campaign was in trouble shows how much DeSantis needs to distract from his disastrous candidacy,” Click said.

A spokesperson for DeSantis did not respond to a request for comment.

Hannity believes DeSantis has the same qualities as Newsom, smart and likable, although that assessment does not appear to be supported in polls. Based on conversations with his audience, Hannity has his own theory.

They love both Trump and DeSantis, but they wish they didn’t clash a little during this primary, Hannity said. Perhaps the poll numbers are more reflective of no, this really should be Donald Trump’s chance, after a controversial 2020 election with COVID in play.

Hannity appears energized by the conversations with Newsom and the upcoming debate. He said he would do more programs with Democratic politicians if he could get them talking



“You’d be surprised how many people don’t want to come,” he said.

But Hannity also recognizes that audiences have shifted to outlets that align with their own opinions.

“If you want [a Democrat’s] “Look, they have to go somewhere,” he said.


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