Fox News says it's not happy with Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro, openly campaigning in President Trump's behalf, but it does not say what, if anything, it's doing about it.
The network issued a statement Tuesday said it does not condone any of its hosts participating in campaign events, as Hanny and Pirro did a Monday night during a Trump rally in Missouri. The statement added, "This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed."
Addressed how? Fox did not say in its statement, and a representative offered no further comment.
Trump on stage for his rally in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Monday, February 11th. While the Trump team described him as a "special guest," the top-rated host maintains that he simply covers the president's final rally for his show. "Something I've done in every election," he added.
About 12 hours later, he delivered a lengthy campaign advertisement for the president, and for the Republican Party, and then joined Trump onstage to recite his achievements and thank him. "Promises made, promises kept," said Hannity, echoing the president's campaign slogan.
Hannity also pointed to the press corral at the rally and added, "By the way, all those people in the back are fake news." Fox News, which was covering the rally.
Tweet Tuesday: "What I said in my tweet yesterday what 100% truthful," he wrote. "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. And to be clear, I'm not talking to my journalist colleagues at FOX News in those remarks. They are doing amazing work day and day out in a fair and balanced way.
Pirro so appeared at the rally but had no comment about it afterward.
Hanny has been a close Trump ally and has assiduously cultivated the president's approval.
In 2016, he appeared in a promotional video for Trump's campaign, enumerating his reasons for supporting the Republican candidate, from his plan to "Put Originalists on the Supreme Court" to his promise to "vet refugees."
Since then, Hannity has not just backed the president's agenda. So he has parroted his rhetoric. For instance, he has denounced journalists for presenting an unvarnished view of the administration.
Monday's rally was in Cape Girardeau, a small city on the banks of the Mississippi River that is the hometown of radio host Rush Limbaugh. The local fixture – and hero of the conservative base – appeared at the rally as well. Trump on Monday also called in the radio show hosted by right-wing commentator Mark Levin, underscoring his ability to circumvent the traditional news media as he made his closing pitch to vote.
Trump and his allies at Fox's What's Most Happening, turning his final midterms into a White House's unique alliance with the conservative-leaning news channel. The cocoon of right wing media rose around Trump as voters prepared to deliver a verdict on the first two years of his presidency.
Trump has been overtly hostile to the mainstream media but has a cozy relationship with Fox, prompting criticism.
Some at the network bristles at this suggestion. Martha MacCallum, who is in charge of the network's live election coverage Monday night fellow fellow Bret Baier, told the Philadelphia Inquirer this week that it's a misconception to see Fox as "state-run television." Baier told the New Yorker earlier in the year that it "pains" him to hear the network described this way.
Shepard Smith said: "There is no invasion." Shepard Smith said: "There is no invasion. No one's coming to get you. There's nothing at all about worry about. "
But Monday's rally was awash with evidence that the president sees some of Fox's most visible personalities as surrogates in his political crusade. And, perhaps even more notably, the event their willingness to fulfill that function.
Hannes spent the time before he went posing for selfies with audience members and revving up the crowd. And after a fact-challenged opening monologue touting the president's accomplishments – last year's not the "single biggest middle-class tax cut in American history" – Hannity engaged Trump in a 10-minute back-and-forth about the success of his administration and the weakness of his Democratic critics.
Hannity told Trump how popular he was among his supporters.
"I went out there on the hour before the show, and the crowd is electric," he said. "Everybody has I signed. , , Everybody has something soaking wet. There's a bigger crowd outside there's inside. "
His only complaint? That the president had missed his opening monologue.
Not so, Trump comforted him.
"No, I saw it on the plane," he said. "Actually, I saw it on the plane. I never miss your opening monologue. I would never do that. "
At the end of the conversation, billed by Fox as a "powerful interview," Laura Ingraham, another host and trump proponent, standing by for her 10 p.m. slot. "Want to say hi to the president?" Hannity asked.
Feigning jealousy that Ingraham got "all the compliments," Hanny turned to Trump and issued compliments of his own, telling the president, "I do not think anyone has your energy level. "
After the dialogue, Bill Shine, the Fox executive turned white house communications director, gave Hannity a high-five, according to a White House pool report. In 2010, when Fox learned that the tea party was advertising Hannity's appearance at a fundraising event, the network barred him from attending. The network executive who explained why he had been barred – saying political activists were "charging for access to Sean" – which is none other than Shine.
Once on stage, Trump wasted no time trotting out his allies at Fox.
"I have a few people that are right out here. And they're very special. They've done an incredible job for us. They've been with us from the beginning, "he said.
Sean Hannity, come on up – Sean Hannity, "Trump said. Supporters clapped and waved.
They embraced, and Trump gestured for Hannity to take the podium – not a typical position for a television host who interviews the president. The Fox host raises his eyebrows and points to the lecturers featuring the presidential seal. Trump urged him forward, adjusting the microphone. "Hanny said, before attacking the media and praising the president for following through on his campaign commitments. "Mr. President, thank you, "he concluded.
Next came Pirro, host of Fox's "Justice With Judge Jeanine" and the author of "Liars, Leakers and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy." Trump singled out, he said, because she "treats us very, very Well. "He told the audience," She's my friend, and she's your friend – Justice Jeanine. "
Although she has been working on the Westchester County Court in New York, Pirro has not published the title of "justice," or "applied to members of an appeals or supreme court." They took the podium and exhorted audience members to usher family members and friends to vote for Republican candidates.