Fox News host Sean Hannity has unequivocally denied accusations made by a former guest on his show. The guest, Debbie Schlussel, has since clarified that she did not consider the incident to be sexual harassment. Last Friday Schlussel gave a radio interview in which she claimed Hannity had once invited her to a book signing and then, while at the signing, invited her to come to his hotel. From the Hill:
“He had some event at a bookstore where he signed his book for people standing in line. He asked me to come meet him at this book signing,” Schlussel told host Pat Campbell.
“So I met him there and it was very awkward. He had me stand up there with him while he signed books and I felt very weird. These people don’t know me and they didn’t come for me to sign their books. So then I left to get ready for the show and he said, ‘Why don’t you come back with me to my hotel?’ and I said, ‘No, I have to get ready for the show.'”
Hannity reacted strongly to the accusation Sunday in a statement which began, “LET ME BE CLEAR THE COMMENTS ABOUT ME ON A RADIO SHOW THIS WEEK by this individual ARE 100 percent false and a complete fabrication.” He continued, “This individual is a serial harasser who has been lying about me for well over a decade. The individual has a history of making provably false statements against me in an effort to slander, smear and besmirch my reputation.
“The individual has not just slandered me over the years but many people who this individual disagrees with. This individual desperately seeks attention by any means necessary, including making unfounded personal attacks and using indefensible and outrageous political rhetoric.”
Hannity’s statement ends with a threat of legal action against Schlussel. “I have retained a team of some of the finest and toughest lawyers in the country who are now in the process of laying out the legal course of action we will be taking against this individual,” he said.
In response to Hannity, Schlussel backed off Monday. In an interview with LawNewz, she clarified that she did not consider what happened sexual harassment:
“I would never accuse him of that. Sexual harassment has a special meaning under the law, and I would never accuse him of that,” Schlussel, an attorney herself, said. Schlussel said the interaction happened in the early 2000’s when Hannity was in Detroit taping a show.
“He tried to get me to go back to the hotel after the show after he and his executive producer Bill Shine treated me horribly,” she said on the radio program. Schlussel later clarified that it wasn’t his hotel room, but rather his hotel.
LawNews notes that Schlussel has made accusations about Hannity before. In 2010 she accused a charity Hannity was involved with of being a scam. No doubt there are some eager to see another male figure at Fox News fall under the weight of this kind of accusation, but in this case it’s not even a he-said, she-said since both parties agree no sexual harassment took place.