The media circus surrounding revelations that Fox News host Sean Hannity was linked to attorney Michael Cohen was reportedly instigated by the lawyer representing the New York Times and CNN, who pushed to make that information public.
According to CNBC, the news about Hannity’s connection to Cohen, President Donald Trump’s attorney, came out in a Monday court hearing during which Judge Kimba Wood ordered Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, to disclose the name of a client whose identity had previously been kept secret.
Natasha Bertrand, a staff writer for “The Atlantic,” tweeted that the judge was persuaded by the lawyer for two mainstream media outlets to make the name public.
“A note about this: Judge Wood was prepared to let Ryan give her the name of Cohen’s third client under seal. At that point, an attorney for the NYT and CNN approached the podium and convinced her that the press (&public) should know. She agreed. He played pivotal role here,” Bertrand tweeted.
Hannity has been attacked, mostly from the left, for having a connection to Cohen.
The far-left Media Matters for America, for example, zinged him for an “utter lack of accountability.”
Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan also joined the parade of those criticizing Hannity. She told PBS that “the viewers deserve to know that the person who was being talked about on Hannity’s show was actually Hannity’s own lawyer, to some extent at least, maybe not in a full-fledged, on-a-retainer way, but someone with whom he said he shared an attorney-client privilege.”
Some voices fired back.
“Let me tell you the truth about something. Every one of these drive-by media hypocrites that are going on and on and on about conflict of interest regarding Sean Hannity would be the first people to accept an up-close and personal relationship with Barack Obama any day of the week, Hillary Clinton any day of the week, and they wouldn’t have any problem covering it up,” conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday.
On his website, Hannity issued a brief statement about Cohen.
“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective,” the statement read.
“I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third-party,” Hannity said.
“In response to some wild speculation, let me make clear that I did not ask Michael Cohen to bring this proceeding on my behalf, I have no personal interest in this proceeding, and, in fact, asked that my de minimis discussions with Michael Cohen, which dealt almost exclusively about real estate, not be made a part of this proceeding,” the conservative commentator added.
As commentators from the left and right staked their ground, lawyer Alan Dershowitz offered a more nuanced point of view.
On Monday, Dershowitz, who was a guest on Hannity’s show, told him “it would have been much, much better had you disclosed that relationship.”
The next day, Dershowitz told The New York Times that just because Hannity did not disclose his connection to Cohen does not mean the host should be punished for it.
“The Fox viewers didn’t suffer from his failure to disclose,” he said. “Why? Everybody who watches Hannity knows who he is, and knows what his views are. He wouldn’t have said anything different.”
“Whether I’ll ever be invited back to Hannity’s show, I don’t know,” Dershowitz added. “But I had to make my point.”
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