Fox News host Sean Hannity and CNN’s Jake Tapper crossed Twitter swords on Thursday.
(*Note: This post has been updated at the end to include Sean Hannity’s official statement on the matter.)
The online spat regarded a phrase Hannity used on his radio show earlier that day to describe Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s alleged encounter with a then 14-year-old girl, a phrase Hannity has since admitted was a misstatement.
During the radio conversation about the allegations, Hannity tried to reserve judgement about Moore, particularly his encounters with the two other women, then 17 and 18 years of age. When a guest suggested the alleged encounter with the 14-year-old was “consensual,” Hannity responded, “And consensual, that’s true.”
Which led many to slam the Fox News host for seeming to imply that the conduct was somehow acceptable:
Sean Hannity is justifying Roy Moore’s conduct with teenage girls because, “it was consensual.” ? pic.twitter.com/AhETrsZLwP
— Mr. Smith (@GuardianRover) November 10, 2017
Including CNN’s Jake Tapper, who wrote in a Tweet that’s since been deleted, “Legally, one cannot give consent if one is underage.”
Hannity was, of course, outraged because he had been slamming such conduct, if true, the rest of his show, if only trying to refrain from being judge, jury, and executioner before any sort of due process was granted to Moore.
“Fake Jake,” Hannity tweeted before getting really serious with the ALL-CAPS. “LISTEN TO MY COMMENTS ALL DAY. TYPICAL MMFA LAZY HACK. CNN FAKE NEWS.”
Because Tapper wasn’t the only one in this case. Hannity’s detractors on this included Media Matters, CNN, and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes who had been critical of the Fox News host on his show earlier that day.
Naturally, Hannity used the vehicle of his own show to fight back, starting with a monologue slamming “those on the left” who have taken him grossly out of context and making it clear that the allegations against Moore, if true, are “beyond reprehensible, beyond disgusting, and beyond shameful.” We all deserve the presumption of innocence, but Moore should “step aside” from the race if guilty.
He then launched into a panel that included Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera, who told Hannity that he definitely “misspoke in one sentence” earlier that day on his radio show.
To which Hannity responded that he was thinking about the 18-year-old, not the 14-year-old.
“That one line was wrong,” said Hannity. “That one line was absolutely wrong. I misspoke.”
Hannity also slammed Tapper via Twitter on his next commercial break, writing, “I said it on the air. If you didn’t just cut and paste mmfa and actually did Research you would have figured that out. Lazy Fake Jake! Poor Fake Jake. Mr mmfa cut and paste man. Yes Jake I️ misspoke as I said on TV. If u would have listened to the show yourself u would know.”
Tapper, in a tweet that has since been deleted, responded, “Hannity is once again attacking me because after he said on radio today that Moore’s alleged sexual conduct with a 14 year old was “consensual,” I said a 14 year old cannot legally give consent. I didn’t cut and paste anything. Several news organizations covered your shocking and inaccurate words where you called sexual contact with a 14 year old ‘consensual.’ If you misspoke then just admit it and move on. All I’ve said is 14 year olds cannot legally give consent.”
“Your lazy and do zero research,” wrote Hannity.
A conciliatory Tapper then tweeted that he would take the previous Tweets down because of Hannity’s on-air admission:
I'm going to do take Hannity at his word and assume he was not referring to the 14 year girl old incident as "consensual" but rather the 17/18 year old girls. The crosstalk was confusing but no reason to believe the worst. For that reason, I'm deleting the tweets.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 10, 2017
I don't watch your show but it's good that you admitted you misspoke about "consensual" sexual contact with 14 year old girl. For that reason, I deleted the tweets. We agree that if the charges are true, it's horrifying. https://t.co/HPefM77WTN
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 10, 2017
After at first Tweeting, “You should. U can learn a lot,” Hannity deleted that and wrote:
I honestly appreciate you pulling down those tweets. No hard feelings. I’ll do the same for you. All my best Sean https://t.co/GPKctEz2dp
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) November 10, 2017
All’s well that ends well, at least for now.
Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity released an official statement to further clarify what he had meant:
“As I said on TV tonight, I apologize when I misspoke and was not totally clear earlier today. It’s really sad when the lazy media in this country cuts and pastes a deceptive and out of context comment by a Soros funded radical left-wing group that has purposefully taken me out of context for years. My comments on the topic of Judge Moore were clear and unambiguous both on radio and on TV, if people would do their own research and reporting. People need to listen to the totality of my remarks if they care about the truth. I interview guests of all points of view, but I speak for myself.”
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