There is no easier interview, if you are a conservative or Republican, than Sean Hannity. Although he goes after outmatched liberals with nasty ferociousness on both his Fox News show and radio program, he has become notorious for the meekness of his interviews with members of his own party.
But Hannity is not merely a partisan hack; indeed, in the past several months, Hannity has gone further than even Rush Limbaugh in rechristening himself as an anti-establishment warrior and Donald Trump fan. Although ostensibly neutral, Hannity has offered Trump an endless number of soft forums and fawning interviews. ThinkProgress noted that despite questioning Trump 41 times, Hannity has never really made news during any of their sessions. Still, Hannity has remained cordial to Ted Cruz in their on-air interactions, even as he has grown more chummy with Cruz’s rival.
That changed on Tuesday when Cruz appeared on Hannity’s radio show. Hannity began by asking Cruz to explain his campaign’s increasingly impressive (and possibly very significant) wooing of delegates who will be able to vote for the Texas senator if Trump does not have a first-round convention majority. Cruz responded that people weren’t concerned with delegate rules. Hannity interrupted him and said that people were, in fact, concerned. Trump, for instance, has been claiming that the election is being stolen. When Cruz said that only “hardcore Trump supporters” were stewing about delegate selection criteria, Hannity exploded. (Nothing makes him angrier than being accused of shilling for the candidate he is quite obviously shilling for, I guess.) “Why do you do this every single time—you gotta stop,” Hannity said. “You try to throw this in my face. I am getting sick of it.”
The conversation eventually cooled down, but the moment was telling. For Hannity, 2016 was supposed to be the year when he could finally endorse a candidate who essentially shared all of his values, and had a chance to win; a candidate who spoke to every wing of the conservative movement, and had a campaign operation that could emerge victorious from the primary process; a candidate who he hailed for years as a true American hero, and who he said represented the best the party had to offer. And instead of backing that candidate, he spent most of the year running interference for Trump. I’d be mad too, but perhaps the high cable news ratings that Trump brings will help him calm down.