Film and TV

Is It As Frustrating to Talk to Sean Hannity on TV As It Looks? We Asked Mark Cuban.

Mark Cuban tries to explain why he's supporting Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election to Fox News host Sean Hannity on a June 23 episode of Hannity.
Screenshot by Danny Gallagher
Mark Cuban tries to explain why he's supporting Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election to Fox News host Sean Hannity on a June 23 episode of Hannity.
Everyone has probably had a frustrating conversation with someone through steaming face masks or online. Some of us seem so steadfast in our beliefs and opinions that getting someone to even acknowledge and process them feels like it should be some kind of competitive Olympic event.

Now imagine having to conduct those conversations on television. Mark Cuban knows how it feels to talk to someone who responds to his answers like a talkative brick wall. He's been talking with Sean Hannity on Fox News.

The Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star has been making semi-regular appearances via satellite on Hannity's self-titled talking point parrot fest over the past month or so as part of the show's "One-on-One" segment. Cuban has been a very vocal critic of President Donald Trump on Hannity's show, calling him someone who "doesn't want to run a country; he wants to run a campaign" and "always plays the victim card." Cuban has also endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential bid on Hannity's show, which lead to Hannity calling Cuban's politics "nuts."

Cuban told us by email that the Fox News show invited him to appear on camera and he accepted because he wants to have discussions with people who disagree with him.

"It's a lot more effective to go where people don't agree with me and see if I can change hearts and minds," Cuban wrote. "And it's not infuriating at all. The first rule of prime time cable news and in particular Hannity is that you have to know this is an entertainment show, not a news show."

The conversations mostly consist of Hannity throwing embellished "facts" about Trump's record and Cuban trying to respond with answers to questions that Hannity can either acknowledge or outright ignore so he can move on to his next talking point. In other words, it's classic Hannity. Even though the discussion can get heated, they can also be friendly despite their disagreement over the basic tenets of reality.

Cuban says he's received invitations from several cable news shows and media outlets to talk politics particularly during the election season. He also says he knows how outlets like Fox News and shows like Hannity operate with guests who don't toe the network's political line.

"They aren't going to try to discuss concepts, strategies or facts," Cuban says of the shows. "It's all talking points with attached necessary bluster, which makes it entertaining and fun for me, and if I can change a few minds, all the better."

Even if it's designed to be entertaining, Cuban notes that he's "concerned" about the effect they are having, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. A recent study from Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review journal found that conservative-leaning media outlets "correlated with beliefs in the malign underlying motives of some at the [Centers for Disease Control] and the Chinese origin of the virus" and that "some in the CDC were exaggerating the threat to harm Trump."

"All prime time cable news network shows have hyperbole to them that can be counterproductive in a lot of areas," Cuban says. "On Fox, Trump can do no wrong, and it's the opposite on CNN and MSNBC. That lack of objectivity is a negative in all respects."

So how do you have a conversation with someone who's as thick-headed as Hannity regardless of their political affiliation? Cuban only has two words of advice.

"Be yourself."