- Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity defended his controversial decision to campaign on stage with President Donald Trump at a Missouri rally on the eve of the midterm elections.
- He said that he hadn’t planned to appear on stage – something he and Fox previously insisted he wouldn’t do – but said he was “honored” by Trump’s request that he say a few words to the crowd.
- Hannity added that he hadn’t meant to smear his reporter colleagues at Fox, some of whom were present at the event, when he slammed the media from the rally stage, calling all the reporters there “fake news.”
Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity defended his controversial decision to campaign on stage with President Donald Trump at a Missouri rally on the eve of the midterm elections, and said he hadn’t meant to call his Fox colleagues “fake news” when he bashed the media at the event.
Hannity tweeted on Tuesday that his decision to praise Trump on stage and urge voters to cast their ballots for Republicans was “NOT planned,” just hours after he insisted he wouldn’t appear on stage with the president at the event. And he didn’t express regret about the move, which he said followed an impromptu invitation from the president, despite his own network’s condemnation.
“What I said in my tweet yesterday was 100% truthful,” Hannity tweeted. “When the POTUS invited me on stage to give a few remarks last night, I was surprised, yet honored by the president’s request.”
He added that he hadn’t meant to smear his reporter colleagues at Fox, some of whom were present at the event, when he slammed the media from the rally stage, calling all the reporters there “fake news.”
“To be clear, I was not referring to my journalist colleagues at FOX News in those remarks. They do amazing work day in and day out in a fair and balanced way and It is an honour to work with such great professionals,” he tweeted Monday.
Hannity, whose nightly opinion program is one of the most-watched programs on cable news, hugged and praised the president before the cheering crowd of thousands.
“The one thing that has made and defined your presidency more than anything else: promises made, promises kept,” Hannity said, borrowing a Trump campaign slogan.
This comes after Fox issued a statement which rebuked both its star host and Jeanine Pirro, another Fox personality who also appeared on stage at the event, after insisting throughout the day on Monday that Hannity would not be campaigning with the president.
“FOX News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” the network said in a Tuesday statement provided to reporters. “We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight, and we are extremely proud of their work. This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed.”
While Hannity has long been one of the president’s staunchest supporters in the media and reportedly regularly advises Trump, it is unusual for any news personality to participate in a political rally.
The Trump campaign advertised Hannity as a “special guest” prior to the rally, but on Monday morning, Hannity said he wouldn’t campaign with Trump on stage and that he was simply covering the event as a journalist.
“They’re very special – they have done an incredible job for us. They have been with us from the beginning,” Trump said of Hannity and Pirro.
In an interview Hannity conducted with Trump just before appearing on stage, the president told him, “I never miss your opening monologue. I would never do that.”
Conservative talk radio personality Rush Limbaugh and singer Lee Greenwood were also special guests at the rally in Missouri, where Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is facing a tough re-election vote.
The move was met with shock and condemnation from fellow journalists and media critics.
“Either Fox News lied all day about their direct collaboration with the Trump campaign, or the network simply doesn’t have any control over Sean Hannity,” Angelo Carusone, president of the liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America, told the Associated Press.
Trump’s ties to Fox run deep. He considers the majority of the network’s top personalities “great friends” of his, regularly tweets about their programs, and has created a pipeline between the cable network and his administration. He regularly attributes the network’s success to the fact that its journalists treat him well.
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