NEW YORK (AP) — Sean Hannity's cable television showdown this week with a Democratic congressman has become more than just a verbal schoolyard brawl. It's an opportunity — for money, attention and ratings.
Democratic and Republican advocates are using Tuesday's Fox News Channel appearance by Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison for fundraising, even as the newly minted feud continues. Hannity continued a discussion about Ellison's career on his show Friday.
Ellison opened his appearance on Tuesday's show by calling Hannity "the worst excuse for a journalist that I've ever seen," and their discussion descended from there. Hannity, who accused the congressman of "ranting," ended the gripping back-and-forth after eight minutes because "our audience deserves better."
The congressman appeared upset by a Hannity commentary just before his appearance that ridiculed President Barack Obama's speeches about fiscal negotiations.
Video clips of the confrontation spread online, and it swiftly became a partisan talking point. Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin tweeted that Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, waged a "verbal jihad," or holy war, against Hannity. Martin Bashir, on his liberal MSNBC talk show, called the appearance "the utter evisceration of Sean Hannity on his own broadcast."
The lobbying group Progressive Change Campaign Committee sent out a solicitation to its supporters, urging them each to donate $3 to Ellison's campaign account or send him a thank you note. By Friday afternoon, the solicitation had raised $21,600, co-founder Adam Green said, with an additional $3,000 for a foundation supporting liberal congressional candidates.
Another liberal group, Democracy For America, also sent out an email to its supporters seeking donations in Ellison's name, spokesman T. Neil Sroka said.
"If you attack a hero of our movement, we're going to come back even stronger," Sroka said.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Republican Party posted a clip of the appearance on its website and asked for contributions. According to the website, nearly $47,000 of a fundraising goal of $50,000 had been pledged.