Trump town hall with Hannity on FOX News was a big ratings win

On Tuesday, former president Donald Trump appeared for his second town hall in seven weeks on the FOX News channel, once again, as on June 1, in Iowa with Sean Hannity.  When the overnight ratings became available on Wednesday, FOX News was able to announce:

FOX News Channel's town hall with former President and 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump secured 2,847,000 viewers and 321,000 with A25-54, making it the top show in all of cable news, even surpassing broadcast offerings on ABC with viewers. . . Host Sean Hannity surpassed CNN and MSNBC combined with viewers and more than quadrupled CNN's The Source with Kaitlan Collins with viewers for the second consecutive day.

The name "town hall" derives from traditional annual New England town hall meetings where residents had their say in a public forum with their elected politicians about matters of local interest.  In recent decades, the town hall concept has been adopted by candidates running for president in early primary and caucus states like New Hampshire and Iowa, where in-person "press the flesh" campaigning can, for example, elevate a Jimmy Who? to the White House.

Technically, however, the FOX News event was not a "town hall" at all. There was not a single question from the audience.  For his part, Sean Hannity, the channel's longest serving host, performed as he did on June 1 — that is, like he was having a conversation with a friend of three decades, which is the case with him and Donald Trump.

More than a town hall or a serious Q&A, the event Monday night (which was recorded in advance in case any editing was needed) was like an energetic political pep rally.  The most oft-repeated words in the transcript are "cheering and applause."

While watching it and reading the transcript afterward, it was a case of déjà vu — a throwback — in some cases word for word — to Hannity's previous town hall with Trump on June 1.  At least in that event, two questions from the audience made it to the broadcast, and several more were included in a 12-minute segment on Hannity's program the following night.

We have yet to hear Donald Trump asked about issues like abortion (one of the top campaign issues in 2022), the Ukraine War (other than Trump saying again that it would have never happened under his watch, and he would end it in one day), Chinese aggression including designs on Taiwan, reparations for slavery, the epidemic of crime, and other pressing issues of the day.

Two excerpts from the transcript give the flavor of the hour (more like 45 minutes when the commercials were taken into account).

The first area was the news that Trump will likely be indicted by the grand jury empaneled by Special Counsel Jack Smith for alleged crimes in trying to deny the 2020 election results and inspire the Jan. 6 "insurrection."

SEAN HANNITY:  Let me ask you just a basic, fundamental question.

You have all of these never-ending attacks.


HANNITY:  And you released on TRUTH Social earlier today that they now — that you are a target of this January 6 grand jury.


HANNITY:  My — my first question to you is, you — it doesn't seem to bother you, like I think it would bother so many other people.

What is it about you that it doesn't?

TRUMP:  It bothers me. It bothers me for everybody in this incredible sold-out audience.

And it's a — it bothers you. I got the letter on Sunday night. Think of it. I don't think they have ever sent a letter on Sunday night. And they're in a rush because they want to interfere. It's interference with the election. It's election interference. Never been done like this in the history of our country.

And it's a disgrace, what's happening to our country, whether it's the borders or the elections or kinds of things like this, where the DOJ has become a weapon for the Democrats, an absolute weapon.

And it seems that every time my polls — you know, we're leading by a lot. And we're leading by a lot in a place called Iowa, a lot.


TRUMP:  And not only with the Republicans, but we're leading against Biden by a tremendous amount. They haven't seen anything like it.

The Real Clear Politics average of major polls during the past month has Biden at 43.9% vs. Trump at 43.4%.  Readers can evaluate Trump's other assertions for themselves.

In another excerpt, criticisms of the "big guy" were abundant.

TRUMP: Nobody's ever seen what's happening right now. And we have a guy, the head of this country — it's probably not him. It's people around him. They have people that are vicious and smart and have horrible ideas for our country. So it's really the people, in my opinion, because I don't think this guy can put together two sentences.

I watched him last night.



TRUMP:  He's almost...


TRUMP:  He's almost incapable of talking. And we have...

HANNITY:  I'm not — I'm not sure he knows today's Tuesday, sir.

TRUMP:  Well, we have a — we have a problem. We have the potential of a war, beyond the war with Russia and Ukraine. And that would have never happened before.

By the way, if I were president, that would have never happened. If I were president, Ukraine and Russia would never…

[That was the only mention of Ukraine in the hour.]



HANNITY:  I want to get to that.


That pretty much summarizes the hour.

When other cable news channels broadcast town halls, the moderators are usually drawn from their news anchors — not opinion hosts.  Of course, one could make the case that CNN's anchors are opinion hosts but that's another matter.  At least they go through the motions.

Sean Hannity is open about the fact that he is not a news person, rather an opinion host.  Whatever you think of him, he is joined at the hip with the Republican Party, and so it has always been.  He was close to Donald Trump when the latter was president, unofficially advising him.

I'm waiting for the Republican debates (if President Trump decides to show up), or for a town hall that allows probing questions from the audience, moderated by a host who is interested in asking substantive questions about issues that people are interested in and not simply leading a campaign rally.

The Trump town hall on Tuesday provided FOX News's revamped prime time schedule, which premiered on Monday twelve weeks after #1 host Tucker Carlson was taken off the air, with a second-night win, even larger than Monday's.  Fans of FOX News town halls can look forward to the next one, when Hannity will host one with Democrat candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at 9 P.M. E.T. from New York City next Tuesdaym July 25.

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