Fox News staffers say they are outraged after host Sean Hannity appeared on stage with Donald Trump at a rally this week after vowing that he would not get involved in campaigning for the 2018 midterm elections.
Hannity, one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the media, was set to cover Trump’s rally on Monday night, the final one before Election Day. As CNN noted, Hannity was supposed to be at the Missouri rally only to interview Trump, and even tweeted beforehand, “To be clear, I will not be on stage campaigning with the president.”
But at the rally, Trump called on Hannity and he walked on stage, where he promptly called out the media members in the back of the room as “fake news” — including some of his own colleagues at Fox News. That did not sit well with media members, especially Hannity’s own Fox News colleagues.
Afterward, a number of Fox News journalists told CNN that the episode was embarrassing and hoped that the network work takes action against Hannity for crossing a line that journalists are not supposed to breach. The network did issue a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying that they don’t “condone any talent participating in campaign events,” but it was not clear if Hannity would face any discipline beyond that.
Some Fox News employees believe the network is afraid to take any action against its top-rated star.
“The whole thing is just so embarrassing that this guy basically has free rein to do whatever he wants, and management is either helpless or uninterested in doing anything about it,” one unnamed employee told CNN.
The feeling was pervasive among current and former Fox News staffers. One told CNN Business that they were “livid” at what Hannity had done.
Sean Hannity has often been pulled into controversy because of his close relationship with Donald Trump. The New Yorker reported earlier this year that Trump speaks to Hannity by phone every night, seeking advice and feedback on his policies and approaches. On some days, they would speak multiple times, the report noted. This led to concern among White House staffers that Donald Trump was growing too obsessed with Fox News and tried to limit his time watching it, the report noted.
Sean Hannity was also revealed to be a “mystery client” of Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to several federal charges including campaign finance violations for a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.