For his first trip to Israel, Sean Hannity had a mission: put the emphasis on what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has on the average Israeli. As he returns home today from a 4-day reporting trip, Hannity tells TVNewser, “I feel like we gave a good picture, with context and texture about what life is like in these border towns.” The Fox News host phoned us from Jerusalem following his interview with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
TVNewser: This was your first time in Israel, what’s your one takeaway from covering this conflict?
Hannity: There’s a couple things that stand out. I stayed two days on the Israeli-Gaza border and speaking with the mayor of Sderot, and going to an indoor playground because the kids can’t go out, where rockets landed five minutes before the cease fire. It gives you perspective of how dire the situation is. One thing that struck me was when I got inside one of the Hamas tunnels. You see the architecture and engineering that go in to the preparation for the tunnel, just so people can commit terror.
TVNewser: What did Prime Minister Netanyahu tell in terms of how he sees this peace holding?
Hannity: I asked him and he says you just never know. Rocket attacks are nothing new here. To be perfectly honest, I got comfortable with the sirens. On the first night, I was in restaurant and the sirens went off, and people, including IDF soldiers, casually walked into a bathroom, and it was no big deal. And at the end of the day I understood it.
TVNewser: Overall do you think the U.S. media has been balanced in its coverage of the current conflict?
Hannity: Absolutely, positively not. I think it was interesting when I asked the Prime Minister about it in a round-about way. He challenged the media, saying to reporters ‘now that you are not under the threat of Hamas, now you can tell the story.’ How they are using mosques and hospitals as shields. He was challenging the media to tell that story.
Here’s my take on the media coverage, and I did glance around. I didn’t see — and maybe some of them did it — but I didn’t see reporters in the elaborate tunnels. I didn’t see them at the indoor playground, I didn’t see people go to the war room of the mayor of Sderot, like we did. I think there are too many Hamas representatives put on the air. I don’t think enough emphasis has been put on the lives of the average Israeli. Where’s CBS? Where is all this so-called reporting on NBC and CNN?
TVNewser: You’re not one to travel for your show, but you also recently went to the border to cover the immigration crises. What’s behind the field trips?
Hannity: It’s what I’ve always liked to do. I traveled less when my kids were younger. Now my son is 15 and my daughter is 12. But there were years I did 60 cities, in book tour years. I’ve been down [to the U.S.-Mexico border] 9 times. But there was not much coverage of my coverage. There is an ebb and flow to my travel.
I really asked to come here, because I thought the story wasn’t being told from the side of the average Israeli. As I’m leaving I feel like we gave a good picture, with context and texture about what life is like in these border towns. But for the four weeks prior to coming here, I’m sure I was being a pain [to FNC executives].
TVNewser: I don’t know if you saw it, but Stephen Colbert had some fun with your liberal use of the word “literally” during your coverage. How do you handle that when the late night comics dissect your performance?
Hannity: Look Stephen Colbert… I understand that people have their job to do. First of all, he’s not as funny as Jon Stewart. Stephen Colbert will have the lowest-rated late night show. There are issues that just aren’t funny. Terrorism isn’t funny. I didn’t see the bit. I won’t see it. I don’t care.
Maybe Stephen Colbert needs to come over here and get a dose of reality. He sits in the comfort of his studio, reading jokes written for him by 30 writers. So, I have a challenge for Stephen Colbert: I’ll pay for your flight. I’ll pay for your hotel, your meals. Then you sit on the border. You talk to the people. You sit across from the mother of an Israeli solider who was killed, and then make a joke about it.