CNN’s Dylan Byers has a strange story today claiming that Fox News host Sean Hannity pulled a gun on Juan Williams last October. The story opens with three paragraphs of unrelated criticism of Hannity’s Twitter habits and then makes a segue into the story about the gun:
Last year, after ending one of his many spirited on-air arguments with liberal contributor Juan Williams, Hannity pulled out a gun and pointed it directly at Williams, according to three sources with knowledge of the incident. He even turned on the laser sight, causing a red dot to bob around on Williams’ body. (Hannity was just showing off, the sources said, but the unforeseen off-camera antic clearly disturbed Williams and others on set.)
Fox News gave CNN a statement saying, “The situation was thoroughly investigated and it was found that no one was put in any danger.” Fox also gave CNN a statement from Hannity, “While discussing the issue of firearms, I showed my good friend Juan Williams my unloaded firearm in a professional and safe manner for educational purposes only.” Hannity adds that he has a concealed carry permit in five states including New York.
For his part, Williams statement seemed to jibe with the others given to CNN, “This incident is being sensationalized — everything was under total control throughout and I never felt like I was put in harm’s way. It was clear that Sean put my safety and security above all else and we continue to be great friends.”
The story then makes another odd segue to Hannity’s fondness for martial arts (Breaking: a lot of guys like martial arts) and more criticism of Hannity’s Twitter feed. The story ends with this cutesy summary, “Hannity’s life is one big game of pin the tail on the donkey.” That’s a reference to his use of the label “jackass” on Twitter.
Dylan Byers inserts this bit of news into a longer story about Hannity’s online arguments with detractors in a way that seems designed to suggest Hannity must have been lashing out at Williams. But it’s not clear that’s what happened. Byers’ own source says Hannity was showing off, not mouthing off. And the fact that Juan Williams agrees he was never in harm’s way suggests this was not taken as a threat.
That doesn’t mean that pulling a gun out at work is a good idea. I suspect a mid-level staffer at Fox would have been fired for something like this. But a moment of what sounds like somewhat unprofessional behavior between friends who have worked together for many years is not the same as an unhinged person waving a gun. Unless someone changes their story, Byers’ framing of this incident seems like a stretch.