Yesterday, Tea Party enthusiast Sean Hannity was set to headline the Cincinnati Tax Day Tea Party. The Cincinnati Tea Party’s (CTP) flier said that not only would the event feature a live taping of Hannity’s show, but the Fox News host would also be holding a book signing. Tickets cost $5 for general admission and $20 for “seats around the Hannity set.” According to the flier, all proceeds would benefit the CTP:
Media observers and longtime journalists criticized Hannity’s arrangement as unethical. “It violates virtually every rule of every ethical guideline that journalism covers,” said Frank Sesno, who spent two decades at CNN and is now director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. “The idea that you would support a [political] movement and ask your audience to pay for it.”
As recently as yesterday afternoon, Fox News was still promoting Hannity’s appearance. During his show — which was airing live from a Tea Party in San Antonio, TX — fellow host Glenn Beck was still promoting Hannity’s Cincinnati show later that night. However, shortly before the event, “angry” Fox News executives yanked Hannity. The LA Times reported:
But senior Fox News executives said they were not aware Hannity was being billed as the centerpiece of the event or that Tea Party organizers were charging for admission to Hannity’s show as part of the rally. They first learned of it Thursday morning from John Finley, Hannity’s executive producer, who was in Cincinnati to produce Hannity’s show.
Furious, top officials recalled Hannity back to New York to do his show in his regular studio. The network plans to do an extensive post-mortem about the incident with Finley and Hannity’s staff.
“Fox News never agreed to allow the Cincinnati Tea Party organizers to use Sean Hannity’s television program to profit from broadcasting his show from the event,” said Bill Shine, the network’s executive vice president of programming. “When senior executives in New York were made aware of this, we changed our plans for tonight’s show.”
The CTP is firing back, claiming that Fox News is lying. They said that not only did they work with Fox News staff on logistics for the event, but executives told CTP organizers Hannity wouldn’t be able to tape his show in Cincinnati because of a “personal emergency”:
Shortly after the scheduled book signing (which was canceled) Fox News producers onsite informed the Cincinnati Tea Party senior leadership that Mr. Hannity had to rush home for a personal emergency. The Cincinnati Tea Party expressed a statement of support and concern to Hannity and family.
The Cincinnati Tea Party received information from local media attributing concerns regarding ticketing to a executive vice president at the Fox News Network. The Cincinnati Tea Party has not been able to confirm the authenticity of this message via a source this statement to any @foxnews.com email or http://www.FoxNews.com website. Emails and phone calls to network went unanswered until 7:48 p.m. — more than four hours after the scheduled appearance; this source has not yet put it in writing despite our request.
The CTP’s post added that the organization is not profiting from the Hannity event; all ticket proceeds are going to “offset the cost of the event.”