War: Rubio staffer rips Sean Hannity, Hannity rips reporter; Update: Fox responds

Is this news? Since it fits the broader theme this week of a nasty party crack-up happening in slow-motion before our very eyes, I’m going to call it news.


Hannity fired back:


Return serve from Caputo:

Good lord. If you’re looking for reasons to think there’s more to this than just one lone Rubio staffer jawing at Hannity and Hannity jawing back, here’s Gabriel Sherman claiming that Fox News has finally given up on The Chosen One:

According to three Fox sources, Fox chief Roger Ailes has told people he’s lost confidence in Rubio’s ability to win. “We’re finished with Rubio,” Ailes recently told a Fox host. “We can’t do the Rubio thing anymore.”

Ailes was already concerned about Rubio’s lackluster performance in GOP primaries and caucuses, winning only one contest among the 15 that have been held. But the more proximate cause for the flip was an embarrassing New York Times article revealing that Rubio and Ailes had a secret dinner meeting in 2013 during which the Florida senator successfully lobbied the Fox News chief to throw his support behind the “Gang of 8” comprehensive immigration-reform bill. “Roger hates seeing his name in print,” a longtime Ailes associate told me. “He was appalled the dinner was reported,” the source said…

Fox’s corporate support of Rubio has also been a growing source of tension with the network’s more conservative talent. Sean Hannity was furious that the Times article reported how he went along with Rubio’s immigration proposal. During an interview with Trump on Monday, Hannity barely defended Fox while Trump trashed Rubio backers like [Stephen] Hayes.


Here’s the Times story from this past weekend, claiming that Rubio and his partner in amnesty Chuck Schumer met secretly with Ailes and Rupert Murdoch in January 2013 and begged them to give the Gang of Eight bill a chance rather than tearing it to shreds on air. Ailes and Murdoch reportedly agreed, which helps explain the reputation Fox has gotten over the past few years for being softer on immigration reform than you’d expect from conservative America’s news channel of choice. The story went on to say that “Fox anchors Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly became more supportive” of immigration reform after Rubio reached out to them to try to sell them on the bill. What it didn’t say is that Hannity had already said on air the day after the 2012 election that he was newly open to some form of immigration reform. Border security first, then a path to citizenship for illegals who are here. (Which, ironically, is basically Marco Rubio’s position right now.) That was right in line with the party’s autopsy of why it lost — too many Latino voters angry at Romney over his call for self-deportation. Hannity didn’t need to be sold by Rubio on the need for a new congressional push to fix immigration in early 2013. He’d arrived at that conclusion in late 2012.

But I digress. The great mystery in his exchange with Caputo is when exactly he arrived at the conclusion that Rubio is a “pawn for [the] establishment.” Less than two weeks ago, the night before the South Carolina primary, he broadcast part of his nightly Fox show from a Rubio rally. If you listen to the clip below from today’s radio show, he suggests that he’s mad at Rubio for amplifying the attacks on Trump over what he said (or didn’t say) about David Duke on Jake Tapper’s show this past weekend. But his argument is bigger than that: He claims Rubio’s being used by the establishment to “take out the insurgencies” (Trump and Cruz, I assume) and that there’s probably been “many meetings, a lot of coaching, a lot of money promised” to get Rubio to do it. All of these meetings/coaching/promises happened in … just the past 10 days? Rubio’s been attacking Cruz for months now; if that attempt to stop his insurgency offended Hannity, why cover Rubio’s South Carolina rally last month? And why on earth do you need an “establishment pawn!” theory to explain Rubio’s attacks on Trump when you’ve got a much more straightforward explanation in front of you, namely, that Rubio’s trying to claw back into the race and sees a kitchen-sink approach to Trump as his best chance to do it? I’ve been worried about Rubio being an establishment pawn since the day the Gang of Eight bill dropped. How many “Hannity” appearances has he logged since then?


Look out here for Hannity embracing the “bad earpiece” theory of why Trump dodged Tapper over the KKK, an excuse so patently untrue that even Trump fan Rush Limbaugh dismissed it.

Update: A statement from Fox News:

“Consistent with the golden standard of Shermanonymous’ ‘reporting’ on FOX News and Roger Ailes, there is no credence to this narrative or the many other works of fiction he’s repeatedly been proven wrong on (http://www.mediaite.com/online/gabe-shermans-fox-fiction-now-bordering-on-unhinged-as-invisible-friends-continue-to-fail/). Lacking any on-the-record sources, and desperate for attention, his stories are full of made-up quotes, but New York magazine doesn’t seem to care about his overwhelming lack of credibility, journalistic integrity and deeply partisan agenda.”

Michael Clemente

Executive Vice President, News

FOX News

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