Although officially, Fox News host Sean Hannity is taking his annual Memorial Day vacation and will be returning to Fox News on Tuesday, unofficial speculation continues to swirl about whether Fox and Hannity each see a future in the other.
A report in Independent Journal Review paints a picture of Hannity having gone “underground” while he ponders whether he wants to return to Fox, a network that has gone through massive changes in the 10 months since CEO Roger Ailes was ousted in the middle of a sexual harassment scandal that continues to have ramifications for Fox.
The changes, which include the ouster of former Fox host Bill O’Reilly and co-president Bill Shine, leave Hannity as one of the few faces remaining form the earliest years when Ailes launched Fox.
IJR bases its report on “a source close to Hannity” who it does not name.
“He has stopped answering his phone, and communicating even with his close friends,” IJR reported that it was told by the source, who noted that Hannity has not tweeted a word since Thursday.
The source, who IJR claimed “possesses intimate knowledge of the internal dealings at Fox News” said Hannity is concerned the leadership at Fox News and its parent, 21st Century Fox, may be seeking to force him out.
Hannity had a tough week last week, in which he was criticized for pushing the story that Seth Rich, a former staffer for the Democratic National Committee who was murdered in D.C. in July, was a source for the DNC emails leaked by WikiLeaks. The controversy was seized upon by Media Matters for America, which used social media to push for advertisers to drop Hannity.
Although Hannity lost some advertisers, initial indications are the trickle is unlikely to become a flood.
Mercedes-Benz, which fled O’Reilly’s show after news reports emerged that O’Reilly settled sexual harassment claims and Media Matters and others pushed to boycott Hannity’s show, said it was standing by Hannity. The company said advertising buys were not “based on editorial content.”
Lexus said its advertising “is distributed through a variety of outlets in the interest of sharing its product news and information with a diverse consumer audience.”
“In addition, we feel that the ability to express different viewpoints through editorial content is an integral part of having a free press,” it said.
Hyundai said it will monitor what Hannity says about Rich, but has no plans to drop the show.
O’Reilly supported Hannity Thursday during his podcast.
“So Sean Hannity now is getting hammered. They go after sponsors, they pay people to demonstrate, they pay people to lie, they being this organized far-left progressive cabal,” O’Reilly said.
“We’ll name them. You know, we’re working at it. It’ll happen. But I think everybody knows it’s happening now. Certainly Hannity has said quite clearly that they’re trying to destroy him, and he’s right. They are,” O’Reilly said.
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