Fox News’ Sean Hannity is defending his appearance Monday night at a campaign rally in Missouri, where he took the stage with President Donald Trump after saying online that he would not be doing so in an earlier tweet.
The network responded, calling the incident “an unfortunate distraction” and saying it “does not condone any talent participating in campaign events” — Fox News host Jeanine Pirro also made an appearance at the rally.
— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) November 6, 2018
“FOX News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” a release stated. “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.”
Fox News statement on Hannity and Jeanine Pirro's participation at the Trump rally last night pic.twitter.com/NsVN6imjLw
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) November 6, 2018
His appearance prompted plenty of backlash from liberal media outlets. The fact that Hannity is consistently the highest-rated cable news program is likely a factor here — according Nielsen Media Research, he drew an average of 3.5 million total viewers in the month of October.
It didn’t help matters that when Hannity took the stage he called the press covering the rally “fake news.”
The Fox News host took to Twitter on Tuesday to say his appearance wasn’t planned and came as a result of a surprise invitation from President Trump.
“What I said in my tweet yesterday was 100% truthful,” he 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. This was NOT planned.”
The tweet Hannity referenced, which has become fodder for the anti-Trump media, can be seen below.
“In spite of reports, I will be doing a live show from Cape Girardeau and interviewing President Trump before the rally. To be clear, I will not be on stage campaigning with the President. I am covering final rally for my show. Something I have done in every election in the past,” the Fox News host tweeted early Monday.
As for his one-liner about “fake news,” Hannity offered a little clarity exempting Fox News journalists from his assessment.
“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 honor to work with such great professionals,” he tweeted.
As expected, the network that’s regularly trounced by Fox News took great exception to an opinion show host at Fox News appearing on stage with Trump.
“They know, vaguely, that they’re not supposed to have one of their hosts endorse a candidate or a party,” CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota said. “But Sean Hannity can’t help himself.”
“They’re having a schizophrenic moment over there trying to figure out what their role over there is supposed to be with the Trump presidency,” she added.
That’s not a problem for CNN — with the network all but dedicating 24/7 coverage to destroying President Trump, its role is well defined.
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