NEW YORK – Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are providing television viewers with a distinctly different vision of the Democratic National Convention each night from their perches on Fox News Channel.
Hannity calls the virtual convention “the worst infomercial ever made” and provides brief, annotated highlights of some Democratic speakers. Carlson said that if the Democratic National Committee was in direct marketing, it would “be bankrupt by now.”
Fox News is providing an hour of convention news coverage each night, the same as broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC. But as cable rivals CNN and MSNBC devote three hours in prime time to the convention — including showing the Democrats' feed virtually uninterrupted — Fox will not dislodge its biggest opinion stars.
Carlson and Hannity offer a viewpoint familiar to supporters of President Donald Trump. In the first two nights, their guests have included Donald Trump Jr., Kellyanne Conway, former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and Trump campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine.
No one minces words.
Hannity called the convention “a predictable dose of poorly produced, cult-like, psychotic rage (and) hysteria against all things Donald Trump. I thought they were the uniters.”
Carlson said it is the type of programming that appeals to people who enjoy mandatory corporate diversity seminars.
“The preaching, self-righteousness, the condescension, the shameless lying, the strange mixture of guilt and aggression — it probably all felt refreshingly familiar to you,” Carlson said. “For everyone else, it was a massive turnoff.”
The Democrats' two-hour feed begins at 9 p.m. Eastern, when Hannity's show airs, and for most of the time, convention proceedings are shown in a tiny box at the bottom of the screen with the sound turned off.
Hannity occasionally dips into a speech, cutting the sound off midstream to offer his own commentary. “There he goes, lying again,” he said after silencing former President Bill Clinton. He stopped New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call him an idiot and dope who was offering “probably the biggest amount of revisionist history ever.”
He aired in full the 90-second speech of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a favorite target of conservatives, saying at the end, “Did she just second the nomination of Bolshevik Bernie (Sanders)?”
Through two nights, the only portion of the convention he aired without ridicule or rebuttal was the moment of silence for George Floyd.
Carlson noted sarcastically that former first lady Michelle Obama was considered off-limits for criticism, then called her a liar. He played clips of television analysts praising Obama's speech Monday to suggest that it was over the top, while leaving out Fox's Chris Wallace and Dana Perino, who had also complimented Obama's address.
He mocked her assertion that she doesn't like to get involved in politics.
“If she hates politics so much, why is she giving a political speech at a political convention?” he said. “Isn't there anything else to do on Martha's Vineyard in the summer?”
Both hosts questioned Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's health, with Hannity showing a Trump commercial pressing that point. “He seems frail, he seems weak, he seems confused,” Hannity said.
A Carlson guest, Fox analyst Brit Hume, called Biden senile.
“His age has left him without a full set of faculties so he forgets where he is at times and can't remember basic things,” Hume said.
Carlson's response: “Interesting.”
The two hosts even make their points to viewers with the sound muted. Onscreen headlines included “Dems Browbeat You into Accepting Their Agenda,” “Shamelessness on Full Display at the DNC,” “2020 Dems: They Don't Believe a Word They Say,” “DNC is a Bizarre Parade of Desperate ‘Zoom’ Calls” and “From Hope + Change to Hate + Rage.”
From a business standpoint, Fox's scheduling makes perfect sense. Carlson had more than 4 million viewers Monday and Tuesday, higher than both CNN and MSNBC. Hannity had 3.88 million viewers Monday, and many Fox viewers clicked away when news coverage of the convention began. Fox had 2.1 million viewers at 10 p.m. Monday, less than half of both MSNBC and CNN at the same time, the Nielsen company said.
Fox pointed out that its convention coverage schedule was the same as it was in 2016 and will be for next week's Republican national convention.
Then, Fox's audience is expected to swell significantly.