On Tuesday afternoon, Fox News released a statement indicating the network has no concerns about Sean Hannity’s failure to disclose his attorney-client relationship with Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime attorney.
Hannity didn’t mention his entanglements with Cohen even as he harshly criticized an FBI raid of Cohen’s office where his own communications were seized.
“While FOX News was unaware of Sean Hannity’s informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support,” the statement says.
FOX NEWS statement on Hannity: "While FOX News was unaware of Sean Hannity's informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support."
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) April 17, 2018
It’s unclear whether Fox News did its own investigation, or is just taking Hannity’s word for it that Cohen didn’t do substantial work for him. It’s also unclear whether Hannity will be allowed to continue to cover Cohen — and, by extension, President Trump — despite his ongoing conflict of interest.
Fox News’ statement comes on the heels of a number of prominent media personalities reacting to news of Hannity’s undisclosed conflict of interest by calling for the network to take some sort of action.
“Going to find out what kind of org Fox is today,” NBC’s Chuck Todd tweet. “No serious news org would allow someone this conflicted to cover this story.”
Going to find out what kind of org Fox is today. No serious news org would allow someone this conflicted to cover this story https://t.co/8KX1JLlzpx
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) April 17, 2018
Todd wasn’t alone in asserting that at least some people at Fox News care about journalistic integrity.
I can attest to this.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) April 17, 2018
Prior to the Tuesday afternoon statement, Fox News’ only public comment about the Hannity controversy had been to release a statement from Hannity himself denying any wrongdoing.
While Fox News higher-ups aren’t concerned about the conflict of interest, a regular guest on Hannity’s show is.
On Monday night, Hannity was confronted live on-air by lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who interrupted a panel discussed devoted to trashing James Comey to confront Hannity about the Cohen controversy.
“First of all, Sean, I want to say that I really think that you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen when you talked about him on this show,” Dershowitz said. “You could have said just that you had asked him for advice or whatever. But I think it would have been much, much better had you disclosed that relationship.”
Hannity didn’t acknowledge the conflict of interest, but instead responding by saying, “I have the right to privacy.”
Fox News has at least feigned concern about the basic tenets of journalism ethics in the past. Last May, the network retracted an investigative report about the death of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich. In a statement announcing the retraction, the network said the piece “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.”
But even after Fox News retracted the Rich story, Hannity continued to push it on his show. The network was recently sued by Rich’s family, in part because of Hannity’s irresponsible coverage.