Rush Limbaugh and Dan Bongino Make Rare Appearances on Fox’s Hard News Programs

The divide at Fox News between its hard news programs (helmed by Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, et al) and opinion programs (Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, et al) has been well covered on this site. Those lines were blurred this week, with the appearances of two conservative firebrands on a news program.

Rush Limbaugh — the controversial yet wildly popular conservative radio host — appeared on MacCallum’s news show The Story Tuesday evening for a marathon 20 minute interview.

During the course of his hit, Limbaugh called for Hillary Clinton to be jailed for an alleged “silent coup” attempt against President Donald Trump. MacCallum did not push back on Limbaugh’s claims.

Nonetheless, the interview was clearly a hit for Fox: clips of it were aired on nearly every Fox News show the following day.

It was also the second time in recent weeks that Limbaugh was featured on a news program. Late last month, he steamrolled his way through an interview on Baier’s Fox News show. That too was surprising: Baier and MacCallum are known as the faces of the network’s serious news coverage, like the upcoming 2020 elections.

Wednesday night, another controversial commentator was featured on MacCallum’s show. Dan Bongino — a former secret service agent and InfoWars personality who scored himself a job as a Fox News contributor thanks to his loud invective aimed at the Mueller investigation — was invited on to debate the media response to the end of the probe.

It was a rare appearance on a news program for Bongino, who is usually confined to Fox’s opinion programs: Fox & Friends, Hannity, The Ingraham Angle and Tucker Carlson Tonight. The appearance also came a few months after the Daily Beast reported that Bongino was barred from Shannon Bream’s 11 p.m. news program. Bongino was banned because, in the words of a source who spoke to the Beast, he became “unglued” during an appearance.

“He’s not someone who would typically be on the news shows,” the source said.

Ratings pressure could be behind the decision to allow commentators like Limbaugh and Bongino on news shows. Programs like MacCallum’s draw fewer viewers than Fox’s highly-rated opinion programming. Where MacCallum’s 7 p.m. show can attract 2 million viewers, Tucker Carlson at 8 p.m. regularly bags 3 million. Opinion is potent stuff.

The Limbaugh interview did deliver a not-insignificant boost to The Story. While Monday her show drew 1.8 million, on Tuesday, the night of the Limbaugh interview, she reached 2.05 million viewers.

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Rabbi Avi Shafran: Orthodox Jews, in Israel and US, are on the upswing

Here on our own shores, religious Jewish unity has long left the building. Personal status issues like marriage, divorce and conversion are all subject to various groups’ widely varying standards. And, as a result, the Orthodox, committed to halacha, have found themselves painfully unable to recognize the personal status pronouncements of Jewish movements that have redefined Jewish religious law for themselves or abandoned it entirely.

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