Fox News host Sean Hannity recently became an even bigger target for attacks from the progressive left and liberal media, but the opinionated Trump-supporting radio and TV host has received full support from the network while he weathers the furious storm.
Attacks against Hannity erupted Monday after it was revealed in court that he had secretly been a “client” of embattled Trump attorney Michael Cohen, whose home, hotel room and office were recently raided by the FBI and whose private documents — which should be protected by attorney-client privilege — were seized by government investigators.
“While FOX News was unaware of Sean Hannity’s informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support,” the network said in a statement Tuesday, according to The Hill.
Hannity and Cohen had sought to keep their relationship a secret, but a federal judge had ordered Cohen’s client list be exposed in court Monday. For his part, Hannity downplayed the significance of his relationship with Cohen on both his radio and TV show, as well as on social media.
At the heart of the uproar surrounding Hannity and Cohen is the apparent lack of full disclosure on the part of Hannity of his ties to Cohen, particularly in light of Hannity’s vociferous defense of Cohen following the FBI raid that seized the documents that were in question in court on Monday.
That raid had stemmed from a referral issued by Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into the Russian election meddling, an investigation Hannity has been exceptionally critical of.
The failure to disclose to viewers his relationship with Cohen while defending Cohen and attacking those investigating him resulted in elected Democrats and liberal media figures calling for Hannity to be suspended or even fired by the network.
It also served as a massive target for the usual suspects on the left — like Media Matters — to renew with vigor their perpetual assault on popular conservative commentators who pose a threat to the progressive agenda.
Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz noted that while the revelation of a relationship between Hannity and Cohen was certainly “newsworthy” and deserving of some media coverage, it didn’t quite merit the over-the-top reaction it received from many outlets and pundits.
Considering the nature by which Hannity has attacked what he terms as the “destroy-Trump media,” Kurtz viewed the attacks against Hannity as something of a reprisal by his rivals on other networks.
Hannity claimed that his relationship with Cohen was of such insignificance that he felt it was unnecessary to inform the network or his viewers about it. But Kurtz felt that, given Hannity’s strong defense of Cohen following the raid and throughout the media-driven Stormy Daniels saga, disclosure of that relationship may have been warranted.
Had Hannity simply made a brief mention of the fact that he is friends with and has accepted legal advice from Cohen prior to mounting a defense of the attorney, there would have been no issue for the liberal media to pick at.
Kurtz noted that people in journalism — on both the straight news and opinion side — occasionally find themselves covering stories that involve close friends or associates, and while at times that may require complete recusal from the matter if a relationship is serious enough, at the very least it should be disclosed so viewers can know there has been full transparency.
“Hannity doesn’t believe his friendship with Cohen rose to that level,” wrote Kurtz. “But by making that choice, he gave his detractors ample ammunition against him.”
That last part is certainly true, but at least for now Hannity will retain the full backing of his employers at Fox News while the slings and arrows from the left are incoming.
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