Fox News star Sean Hannity left curious members of the “left media” hanging until the very end of his show Monday night to say, “all the lies you’ve heard about me, they’re not true.”
Hannity tweeted last week that if the network’s co-president Bill Shine was forced out, it would be “the total end of the FNC as we know it.” What followed was speculation that Hannity will be the next star to leave based on his close ties to the now-former Fox News boss.
The Fox News Channel host teased in a tweet earlier Monday, “If I have anything to say about @FoxNews I will say it tonight at 10 est.”
At the start of his show, Hannity teased it further, welcoming the “left media,” adding, “who I guess maybe tuning in tonight. I may or may not have a thing or two to say before the show is over just for you. Please stay tuned.”
Fifty-nine minutes later, Hannity ended his show saying, “Special thanks to allour friends in the media who were tuning in tonight, maybe for the first time. And all the lies you’ve heard about me, they’re not true. Anyway, thanks for being with us.”
Shine and Hannity are longtime friends and colleagues who have worked together since 1996. In fact, Hannity watched Shine grow from “Hannity and Colmes” producer to co-president of the network. Hannity has subsequently stood by Shine, and last week tweeted his belief that “somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC” is deliberately trying to ruin Shine’s career.
Fox News has filled Shine’s job internally for now, which should be a considered a positive development for Hannity — unless he thinks one of the now-promoted executives was the leak.
It would obviously be a very risky move for Hannity to bolt, considering he hosts one of the most popular shows in the history of cable news. But Fox News viewers can attest that crazier things have happened.
Fox News has already lost two primetime superstars in 2017. Megyn Kelly bolted for NBC when her contract was up and Bill O’Reilly was recently fired because of the aforementioned sexual harassment claims. O’Reilly-Kelly-Hannity was the primetime lineup that helped Fox News dominate the cable news landscape for the past few years, but only one of them remains.
Luckily for Fox News, the network managed to lose O’Reilly and Kelly without suffering a decline in ratings. But Many insiders consider Shine the guy who held everything together. If Hannity were to follow Shine out the door then longtime viewers of the network would hardly recognize the place.
Hannity returned to Twitter shortly after the Shine news broke to confirm an Independent Journal Review report at he is not currently negotiating an exit. Hannity said if he has anything to say, he will say it on his program Monday night.
Just last week, Mediaite reported that “an alternative conservative network is being actively discussed amongst conservative fat cats.” The report claimed that “serious discussions are underway to create an alternative conservative cable network on the belief that the Fox News Network is moving too far to the left.”
If true, a quick call to Shine could quickly get the old band back together. A new network could potential feature Shine leading a primetime trio O’Reilly, Hannity and soon-to-be free agent Tomi Lahren. Shine is regarded as someone who played a key role in shaping Fox News’ conservative voice that Hannity is the face of.
And if Hannity does decide to bolt, Fox might not be able to do anything about it. New York Magazine reporter/editor Gabe Sherman, who has been out in front of the on-going Fox News drama, reported that Hannity has a “key man clause” in his contract that would allow him to quit anytime.
Shine, a protégé of ousted network founder Roger Ailes, had been with Fox News for 20 years. He was regarded as a key member of the old regime at Fox News and was promoted to co-president, alongside Jack Abernethy, last year when Ailes stepped down as CEO because of multiple sexual harassment allegations.
Last week, Sherman reported that Shine asked the Murdoch family for a public statement of support but they declined.
The report sent Hannity into a Twitter tirade, saying he prays the report isn’t true because it would be the end of Fox News. He even started a hashtag #IStandWithShine and tweeted the link to a Facebook page titled “Stop the Scalping” which condones targeting conservative voices by the politically correct.
It appears Sherman was correct about the Murdoch family wanting to get rid of Shine. Now it will be interesting to see if Hannity was correct when he said Shine’s ouster would be the end of Fox News as we know it.
Fox News declined TheWrap’s request to speak with Hannity for this piece.