C’mon. Simple logic should tell you that there’s nothing to “the rumors,” even though Fox brass reportedly did lean on him to dial it down on the Seth Rich stuff.
In a rare interview with Huffington Post, Hannity accused liberal watchdog groups like Media Matters For America of trying “to take me out” by encouraging advertisers to jump ship. “This is a kill shot,” he said.
Hannity also said that he decided to stop pushing the conspiracy theory out of respect for Rich’s family. “Nobody tells me what to say on my show. They never have and frankly they never will,” Hannity said. “I’m not that type of person you can say, ‘Go on air and say this.'”
Still, four sources at Fox told CNNMoney that Hannity did face internal pressure to back off the Rich story, even if he made the decision to do so on his own. Suzanne Scott, the network’s president of programming, and other executives met with Hannity on Tuesday and encouraged him to stop advancing the theory.
Hannity’s on vacation today, the timing of which seems suspicious in light of Fox’s habits lately. O’Reilly “went on vacation” as the advertiser boycott of his show snowballed and he never came back. Jesse Watters also “went on vacation” for a few days after making a crass remark about Ivanka Trump. Hannity himself has now lost seven advertisers and counting over his Seth Rich conspira-cizing. Did Fox yank him off the air?
Nope, says Erick Erickson, and he can prove it:
This story is patently false and I know so first hand. Why?
Because my radio show starts right after Sean’s show on WSB in Atlanta. On May 18th, my boss asked me to put on schedule for today and tomorrow to start my show at 3pm ET. Why? Because Hannity would be out for Memorial Day vacation with his family and they’d like me on locally instead of his guest hosts due to Atlanta traffic issues. Hannity’s television vacation days are always in conjunction with his radio vacation days.
That’s the truth, says anti-Trumper Rick Wilson:
I can confirm from a source at Fox what @EWErickson noted earlier; Hannity's vacation was planned ahead of this whole Seth Rich business.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) May 25, 2017
You shouldn’t need proof to know that Hannity will be back, though. Fox won’t dump him now. They simply can’t afford to cave to another advertiser boycott, especially so soon after caving on O’Reilly. Some viewers are angry at them for that, notwithstanding the sexual harassment accusations against O’R. To cave again and sacrifice another heavy hitter will be seen as capitulation to the enemy and received by the professional left as proof that they can muscle Fox to drop any host they like with enough organization. Tucker Carlson would surely be targeted next. Fox has no choice but to send a message to both sides by standing with Hannity, come what may.
Dumping him now would also be too much upheaval in too short a time. They lost their 9 p.m. anchor a few months ago, then lost their 8 p.m. mainstay of two decades a few weeks ago. Parting with Hannity would be the end of the enormously successful Fox News brand as America has come to know it. That would be risky for the network under any circumstances but especially dangerous with MSNBC and CNN surfing anti-Trumpism to record ratings. And don’t forget that there’s allegedly another conservative news outlet in the works somewhere out there that’s preparing to challenge Fox. For the first time this century, the network looks vulnerable. As such, they’re going to cling to the guy who’s made himself the most dependably pro-Trump voice in media. If nothing else, that’ll ensure a loyal base of MAGA viewers throughout the Trump presidency.
Finally, with whom would they replace Hannity at this point? Their bench has gotten thinner as A-listers have departed. They could put Eric Bolling in at 10 to serve red meat to Trumpers, but Bolling just landed a panel show at 5 p.m. What happens to that program if he moves to prime time? Greg Gutfeld at 10 is another possibility but Gutfeld’s too independent-minded to give Trump fans what they crave consistently. Do they bring in Tomi Lahren? Dana Loesch? Unless it’s Bolling, the change from Hannity to any replacement will be a major disruption in one way or another. Which means Fox is likely to keep Hannity as happy as possible to convince him to stay where he is.
If anyone ends up pulling the plug on the show, it’s less likely to be Fox News than Hannity himself, to pursue other opportunities inside or outside the White House. If you believe Gabriel Sherman, he has the right to do it at any time.