In the final run-up to the midterm elections, Fox News hyped their planned election night coverage — anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum — as featuring numerous analysts and pundits from the network, including prime-time opinion hosts Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity.
But as viewers and the Fox-hating liberal media duly noted, Hannity was a “no-show” on Tuesday night on Fox, even as both Carlson and Ingraham took part in the hours-long coverage that evening.
The Washington Times — among many other outlets — was quick to call out Hannity’s election night absence. It came just one day after the popular host — along with fellow Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro — unexpectedly appeared on stage alongside President Donald Trump at his final campaign rally in Missouri on Monday night.
The on-stage appearance was deemed an “unfortunate distraction” by Fox News and led to accusations from others that Hannity and Pirro had crossed a line.
Some media outlets implied that their absence from Tuesday’s coverage was punishment for their actions at Monday’s rally.
Much ado about nothing?
Initially, Fox News offered no real explanation for Hannity’s absence Tuesday night — he returned to his regularly scheduled program on Wednesday — except to point to prior statements from the host which suggested he had “other plans” for the evening.
Indeed, just days earlier on his program, Hannity had joked with host Bill Hemmer, “I will be watching you on election night. I will be home drinking heavily. Either celebrating or in misery, one or the other.”
Furthermore, Hannity explained on his Tuesday afternoon radio program that he never works as part of Fox News’ election night coverage “because I am so neurotic,” and further explained that election nights typically involved him watching multiple TVs, computers and his phone at once.
“I think in 2016 I didn’t go to bed until 8 or 9 in the morning the next day,” he recalled.
His explanations prior to election night were ignored by media watchers, who pointed out that Hannity was “noticeably absent” Tuesday night even though he had been billed as being a part of the planned coverage, according to USA Today.
CNN’s Brian Stelter, who serves as a sort of anti-Fox media hall monitor, keyed in on Hannity’s absence with multiple tweets Tuesday night.
Others at CNN also gleefully hyped reports from anonymous Hannity colleagues at Fox News who supposedly registered their disapproval of his joining Trump on-stage at Monday’s rally, which they viewed as detrimental to the network’s reputation and “hard news” coverage.
For what it is worth, Hannity claimed that his on-stage appearance at the Missouri rally had been unplanned and only occurred because Trump had unexpectedly invited him up on stage, an invitation he felt he couldn’t decline.
What I said in my tweet yesterday was 100% truthful. When the POTUS invited me on stage to give a few remarks last night, I was surprised, yet honored by the president’s request. This was NOT planned.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) November 6, 2018