In a tense exchange on CBS Sunday Morning, Koppel told the Fox News host and staunch supporter of President Trump that his brand of opinion-based journalism was harming the country.
The segment focused on the political divide in America and the role partisan news programming played in driving liberals and conservatives further apart. During a sit-down interview, Hannity called on Koppel to “give some credit” to people’s ability to differentiate between a news show and an opinion show.
“You’re cynical” Hannity said.
“I am cynical” Koppel responded.
“Do you think we’re bad for America? You think I’m bad for America?” Hannity asked.
Koppel didn’t miss a beat: “Yeah.” He continued over multiple interruptions from Hannity:
Koppel: “In the long haul I think you and all these opinion shows —”
Hannity: “Really? That’s sad, Ted. That’s sad.”
Koppel: “No, you know why? Because you’re very good at what you do, and because you have attracted a significantly more influential —”
Hannity: “You are selling the American people short.”
Koppel: “No, let me finish the sentence before you do that.”
Hannity: “I’m listening. With all due respect. Take the floor.”
Koppel: “You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.”
After the segment aired, Hannity responded with a series of tweets calling the show “Fake Edited News” and accusing CBS of leaving out parts of his answers that discussed media bias. He asked CBS to release the raw recording of the interview, which he said ran about 45 minutes.
In the decade-plus since he stepped down as host of ABC’s “Nightline” after 25 years, Koppel has lamented a changing media landscape that he says “celebrates the opinions” of overtly partisan news hosts at the expense of neutral reporting. He has criticized journalists on the right and the left for biased coverage, particularly those at Fox News and its liberal-leaning rival MSNBC.
“The commercial success of both Fox News and MSNBC is a source of nonpartisan sadness for me. While I can appreciate the financial logic of drowning television viewers in a flood of opinions designed to confirm their own biases, the trend is not good for the republic,” Koppel wrote in a Washington Post column in 2010.”
“Beginning, perhaps, from the reasonable perspective that absolute objectivity is unattainable, Fox News and MSNBC no longer even attempt it,” he said. “They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and loyal viewers) at either end of the political spectrum would like it to be. This is to journalism what Bernie Madoff was to investment: He told his customers what they wanted to hear, and by the time they learned the truth, their money was gone.”
In the same column, Koppel called then-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann the “most opinionated” among the network’s “left-leaning, Fox-baiting, money-generating hosts,” saying more than a million viewers flocked to his nightly program because Olbbermann was “unabashedly and monotonously partisan.”
Koppel said MSNBC host Rachel Maddow fell into the same category, along with Glenn Beck, who was a Fox News host at the time.
He waded into the issue during the 2016 election as well. In a March 2016 appearance on Fox News’s “O’Reilly Factor”, Koppel scolded host Bill O’Reilly about the political debate surrounding then-candidate Trump, who had just triumphed in the Super Tuesday primaries.
O’Reilly told Koppel he had interviewed Trump on many occasions. “Not an easy interview,” he said. “How would you do it?”
“It’s irrelevant how I would do it,” Koppel fired back. “And you know who made it irrelevant? You did.”
O’Reilly, seemingly unfazed, asked him to elaborate. And Koppel did — in an exchange not unlike his discussion with Hannity on Sunday.
“You have changed the television landscape over the past 20 years. You took it from being objective and dull to being subjective and entertaining,” Koppel told O’Reilly. “And in this current climate, it doesn’t matter what the interviewer asks him. Mr. Trump is going to say whatever he wants to say, as outrageous as it may be.”
Ted Koppel Tell Sean Hannity That Hannity Is ‘Bad for America’ – to His Face
Veteran TV journalist Ted Koppel analyzed the media’s role in the political divide in Trump-era America on “CBS Sunday Morning” — and had a pointed moment interviewing Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“We have to give some credit to the American people that they are somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show,” Hannity told Koppel on camera, registering the veteran newsman’s doubt. “You’re cynical. … You think we’re bad for America? You think I’m bad for America?”
“Yep,” Koppel replied. “In the long haul, I think that all these opinion shows…”
“Really?” Hannity asked. “That’s sad, Ted.”
Koppel explained: “You know why? Because you’re very good at what you did and because you have attracted … people who have determined that ideology is more important than facts.”
To explain the evolution of the increasingly partisan American media, Koppel pointed to a 1987 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to overturn the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which stipulated that radio and television programs had to present both sides of a political question on air.
“Free of the Fairness Doctrine, Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio exploded into a political force of nature,” Koppel said.
Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told Koppel, “Now you take conservative talk radio, move that forward to tribal cable television and layer on to that email and social media, and all of a sudden we live in a world where people can get information and believe it’s absolutely true and not have to get any kind of opposing view. And once they believe it they will always believe it even if it’s utterly false.”
Koppel concluded by citing a Pew Research Center study from last June that found 49 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats said they were “afraid” of the other party: “As President Trump might say, sad.”
Ted Koppel tells Sean Hannity he is 'bad for America'
Veteran newsman Ted Koppel has told Fox News commentator Sean Hannity that he is “bad for America” in an interview that aired on CBS.
The discussion on the network’s Sunday Morning show focused on the polarisation of politics and the media in the US.
During the interview, Koppel, the former ABC Nightline anchor, said that the conflation of opinion and editorial content was dangerous.
Hannity told Koppel he was cynical and that Americans could tell the difference between opinion and news.
Referencing talk show hosts who tread a fine line between news and comment, Hannity said: “Do you think we’re bad for America? You think I’m bad for America?”
“Yeah,” Koppel replied. He tried to explain his reasons, but was interrupted several times by Hannity. When he was allowed to talk he went on: “You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.”
After the interview aired, Hannity fired back with a tweetstorm alleging that the interview had been cut significantly from 45 minutes to less than two and accusing CBS of broadcasting “Fake Edited News”.