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Sean Hannity in 2016
|Born||Sean Patrick Hannity
December 30, 1961
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Residence||Centre Island, New York, U.S.|
|Education||St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary|
|Occupation||Radio host, television host, political commentator, author|
|Employer||Premiere Networks, Fox News Channel|
|Known for||Conservative political commentary|
|Political party||Conservative Party of New York State|
|Spouse(s)||Jill Rhodes (m. 1993)|
Sean Patrick Hannity (born December 30, 1961) is an American talk show host, author, and conservative political commentator. Hannity is the host of The Sean Hannity Show, a nationally syndicated talk radio show. He also hosts a cable news show, Hannity, on Fox News.
Hannity was born and grew up in New York City. He worked as a general contractor, and volunteer talk show host at UC Santa Barbara in 1989. He later joined WVNN in Athens, Alabama, and shortly afterward, WGST in Atlanta. In 1996, he was hired by Fox and was accompanied by Alan Colmes when he received his show Hannity & Colmes. Leaving WGST, he worked at WABC in New York until 2013, where he was on air full-time. Since 2014, he has worked at WOR. After Colmes announced his departure in January 2008, he merged his Hannity & Colmes show into Hannity.
Hannity has received several awards and honors, and has written three books. His Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism, Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism, and Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda have all been New York Times Bestsellers.
Hannity is often controversial and has been accused of promoting falsehoods and conspiracy theories, such as casting doubt on Barack Obama's birthplace, promoting conspiracy theories about the murder of Seth Rich, and reporting false stories about Hillary Clinton's health. He was an early supporter of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, giving him more air time than other primary candidates, asking friendly interview questions, and defending Trump whenever he was criticized. Since Trump's election Hannity has promoted Trump's claim that there is a "deep state" within the federal government working to hinder the Trump administration. Hannity dismisses criticism by saying that he is a talk show host, not a journalist.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Political commentary, controversies, and criticism
- 3.1 Birtherism
- 3.2 2016 presidential campaign
- 3.3 WikiLeaks
- 3.4 Roy Moore and advertiser boycott
- 3.5 Deep State
- 3.6 Comments on sexual harassment
- 3.7 LGBT rights
- 3.8 Immigration
- 3.9 Islam
- 3.10 Climate change
- 3.11 Death panels
- 3.12 False claims about CNN's Jake Tapper
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Bibliography
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Sean Patrick Hannity was born in New York City, New York, the son of Lillian (Flynn) and Hugh Hannity. Lillian worked as a stenographer and a corrections officer at a county jai, while Hugh was a family-court officer. He is the youngest of four siblings. All of his grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ireland. He grew up in Franklin Square, New York, and attended Sacred Heart Seminary in Hempstead, New York, during his middle school years and St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary high school in Uniondale, New York. Hannity dropped out of New York University and Adelphi University.
Hannity hosted his first talk radio show in 1989 at the volunteer college station at UC Santa Barbara, KCSB-FM, while working as a general contractor. The show aired for 40 hours of air time.[dead link] Regarding his first show, he said, "I wasn't good at it. I was terrible." Hannity's weekly show on KCSB was canceled after less than a year. This was after two shows featuring the book The AIDS Coverup: The Real and Alarming Facts about AIDS by Gene Antonio; among other remarks made during the broadcast, Hannity told a lesbian caller, "I feel sorry for your child." The university board that governed the station later reversed its decision due to a campaign conducted on Hannity's behalf by the Santa Barbara chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that the station had discriminated against Hannity's First Amendment rights. When the station refused to give him a public apology and more airtime, Hannity decided against returning to KCSB.
After leaving KCSB, Hannity placed an ad in radio publications presenting himself as "the most talked about college radio host in America." Radio station WVNN in Athens, Alabama (part of the Huntsville market), then hired him to be the afternoon talk show host. From Huntsville, he moved to WGST in Atlanta in 1992, filling the slot vacated by Neal Boortz, who had moved to competing station WSB. In September 1996, Fox News co-founder Roger Ailes hired the then relatively unknown Hannity to host a television program under the working title Hannity and LTBD ("liberal to be determined"). Alan Colmes was then hired to co-host and the show debuted as Hannity & Colmes.
Later that year, Hannity left WGST for New York, where WABC had him substitute for their afternoon drive time host during Christmas week. In January 1997, WABC put Hannity on the air full-time, giving him the late night time slot. WABC then moved Hannity to the same drive time slot he had filled temporarily a little more than a year earlier. Hannity was on WABC's afternoon time slot from January 1998 until the end of 2013. Since January 2014, Hannity has hosted the 3–6 p.m. time slot on WOR in New York City.
In their book Common Ground, conservative Cal Thomas and liberal Bob Beckel describe Hannity as a leader of the pack among broadcasting political polarizers, which following James Q. Wilson they define as those who have "an intense commitment to a candidate, a culture, or an ideology that sets people in one group definitively apart from people in another, rival group."
Hannity was a co-host of Hannity & Colmes, an American political "point-counterpoint"-style television program on the Fox News Channel featuring Hannity and Alan Colmes as co-hosts. Hannity presented the conservative point of view with Colmes providing the liberal viewpoint.
In January 2007, Hannity began a new Sunday night television show on Fox News, Hannity's America.
In November 2008, Colmes announced his departure from Hannity & Colmes. After the show's final broadcast on January 9, 2009, Hannity took over the time slot with his own new show, Hannity, which has a format similar to Hannity's America.
Hannity's radio program is a conservative political talk show that features Hannity's opinions and ideology related to current issues and politicians. The Sean Hannity Show began national syndication on September 10, 2001, on over 500 stations nationwide. In 2004, Hannity signed a $25 million five-year contract extension with ABC Radio (now Citadel Media) to continue the show until 2009. The program was made available via Armed Forces Radio Network in 2006. In June 2007, ABC Radio was sold to Citadel Communications and in the summer of 2008, Hannity was signed for a $100 million five-year contract. As of October 2013, the program is heard by over 13.25 million listeners a week. Hannity is currently ranked No. 2 in Talker Magazine's Top 100 Talk Host in America and was listed as No. 72 on Forbes' "Celebrity 100" list in 2013.
In January 2007, Clear Channel Communications signed a groupwide three-year extension with Hannity on over 80 stations. The largest stations in the group deal included KTRH Houston, KFYI Phoenix, WPGB Pittsburgh, WKRC Cincinnati, WOOD Grand Rapids, WFLA Tampa, WOAI San Antonio, WLAC Nashville, and WREC Memphis.
Hannity signed a long-term contract to remain with Premiere Networks in September 2013.
Hannity is the author of three books. The first two, Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism and Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism, were published through ReganBooks. Both of these books reached the nonfiction New York Times bestseller list, the second of which stayed there for five weeks. Hannity has stated that he is too busy to write many books, and dictated a lot of his own two books into a tape recorder while driving in to do his radio show.
Hannity wrote his third book, Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda, which was released by HarperCollins in March 2010. The book became Hannity's third New York Times Bestseller.
Political commentary, controversies, and criticism
Hannity has been criticized for promoting birtherism, disputed claims regarding voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election, and other conspiracy theories. He has also been criticized for being overly supportive of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Hannity has promoted the idea of a "deep state", which he describes as a "Shadow Government" – a network of government officials that is working to hinder the Trump administration.
According to the Washington Post, Hannity "repeatedly embraces storylines that prove to be inaccurate" and takes positions that change over time. According to the New York Times, Hannity "barreling headfirst into the murky territory between opinion and out-and-out conspiracy theorism." Hannity often promotes conspiracy theories without explicitly endorsing them, unlike Alex Jones; the New York Times wrote that this "has the effect of nourishing the more wild-eyed beliefs of his fans while providing Hannity a degree of plausible deniability."
During the Bush years, Hannity "loyally supported the president’s policies." During the Obama administration, Hannity "leaned more heavily on stories he believed were being given short shrift by the 'liberal media' — stories about where Obama was born, and who deserved blame for the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya." In 2017, the Washington Post wrote that "what Hannity has stood for — at least for the past couple of years — is Trump."
Though he said that he believed that President Barack Obama was born in the United States, Hannity brought up the issue of whether Obama was born in the United States and repeatedly called on Obama to release his birth certificate. Hannity also defended and promoted those who questioned Obama's citizenship of the United States, such as Donald Trump. Hannity invited Trump to his show at the same time that Trump was a leader in the birther movement; during an interview with Hannity, Trump said that Obama "could have easily have come from Kenya, or someplace." To which Hannity responded, "The issue could go away in a minute. Just show the certificate." After Obama in 2008 produced what the state of Hawaii certified as a legitimate birth certificate, Hannity kept calling on Obama to release his birth certificate, asking, if there was a birth certificate, why did he not "just produce it and we move on?" In October 2016, Hannity offered to purchase a one-way ticket to Kenya for Obama, harking back to the controversy.
2016 presidential campaign
Candidacy of Donald Trump
Hannity is notable for his pro-Trump coverage. According to the Washington Post, "Hannity’s comeback coincided with his early, eager embrace of his fellow New Yorker... Trump attacked the Gold Star father, and Hannity stood by him. Trump went after a federal judge of Mexican descent, and Hannity backed him. Even after the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged of Trump boasting about grabbing women, Hannity defended his guy: “King David had 500 concubines, for crying out loud.” After the inauguration, the first interview the new president gave to a cable news channel went to Hannity." Hannity also defended the Trump administration's false claim that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest ever.
Hannity was criticized by some, especially supporters of Ted Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign, as being overly favorable to the candidacy of Donald Trump and granting Trump more airtime than other presidential candidates during the 2016 primaries. Hannity, for instance, let Donald Trump promote the false conspiracy theory that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the John F Kennedy assassination. During interviews, Hannity "frequently cites areas where he agrees with Trump, or where he thinks Trump was right about something, then asks him to expand on it", and "often ignores or defends Trump from criticism," according to a CNN report. Tensions between Cruz and Hannity appeared to reach a boiling point during a contentious April 2016 radio interview, during which Cruz implied Hannity was a "hard-core Donald Trump supporter" and Hannity responded by accusing Cruz of "throw[ing] this in my face" every time he asked a "legitimate question". Jim Rutenberg reported in August 2016 that Hannity is "not only Mr. Trump’s biggest media booster; he also veers into the role of adviser," citing sources who said Hannity spent months offering suggestions to Trump and his campaign on strategy and messaging. Hannity responded to the report by saying, "I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States. ... I never claimed to be a journalist." (In an article published in December 2017, Hannity said "I'm a journalist. But I'm an advocacy journalist, or an opinion journalist.") Hannity has feuded with several conservatives who oppose Trump, including National Review's Jonah Goldberg, Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens, and National Review editor Rich Lowry.
In 2017, Trump was reported to often call Hannity after his nightly Fox program.
Conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton
During the 2016 presidential election, Hannity periodically promoted conspiracy theories regarding Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Hannity repeatedly claimed that Clinton had very serious medical problems and that the media was covering them up. He misrepresented photos of Clinton to give the impression that she had secret medical problems. He shared a photo from the fringe news site Gateway Pundit and falsely claimed that it showed her Secret Service agent holding a diazepam pen intended to treat seizures, when he in fact was holding a small flashlight. He booked doctors on his show to discuss Clinton's health; although these people had never personally examined Clinton, they made alarmist statements about her state of health which turned out to be false. At one point, Hannity promoted an unsubstantiated report that Clinton was drunk at a rally; at another point, he suggested that Clinton was drunk and that her campaign needed to "sober her up".
In October 2016, Hannity claimed that WikiLeaks has revealed that "everything that conspiracy theorists have said over the years" about Hillary Clinton is true.
Murder of Seth Rich conspiracy theories
In May 2017, Hannity became a prominent promoter of the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party had a DNC staffer killed. Shortly afterward, he faced backlash from both left- and right-wing sources and lost several advertisers, including Crowne Plaza Hotels, Cars.com, Leesa Mattress, USAA, Peloton and Casper Sleep deciding to pull their marketing from his program on Fox News. However, USAA decided to return to the show shortly after following a negative outcry against its decision to pull out. Conservative magazine National Review compared the story to a flat earth video, called it a "disgrace" that Hannity and other conspiracy theorists were hyping the story, and called for them to stop.
Claims about election fraud
Hannity came under criticism during the 2016 presidential election for false claims about election rigging during interviews. Hannity responded to this by citing Mitt Romney's failure in 2012 to obtain any votes in 59 of 1,687 Philadelphia voting districts as proof of election rigging. However, Factcheck.org and PolitiFact found that it was not unusual at all for this to occur, as those districts are heavily African-American. Philadelphia elections inspector Ryan Godfrey also refuted Hannity's claim.
Hannity has expressed skepticism of the U.S. intelligence community's view that Russia hacked the DNC e-mails during the 2016 election. In March 2017 he publicized a theory, first proposed at the Wikileaks Twitter account, that the CIA could have done the hacking while making it look like Russia did it. 
In 2010, Sean Hannity said that Assange waged a "war" on the United States, and that Wikileaks put American lives in "jeopardy" and "danger" around the world. He also criticized the Obama administration for failing to apprehend Assange. In 2016, after Wikileaks published leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee, Hannity praised Assange for showing "how corrupt, dishonest and phony our government is". He told Assange in a September 2016 interview, "I do hope you get free one day. I wish you the best." In May 2017, Hannity made an offer to Assange to guest host his Fox News TV show.
In February 2017, Hannity retweeted a WikiLeaks tweet linking to an article by Gateway Pundit, claiming that John McCain was a "globalist war criminal". McCain's spokeswoman called Hannity out on it, asking him to "correct the record." Hannity later deleted the tweet.
Roy Moore and advertiser boycott
In November 2017 Hannity interviewed the Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore who is facing accusations of sexual assault and harassment of teenage girls while he was in his thirties. Hannity stated that Moore "deserves the presumption of innocence" and that "none of us know the truth". After criticism from Media Matters for America, which had been promoting a boycott since May 2017 over previous controversial comments by Hannity, some major advertisers pulled their advertising from Hannity's show. These actions were met with counter boycotts by Hannity's fans who destroyed products made by the companies who removed their promotions from the show and pledged to stop buying their products until the decisions were reversed, causing the CEO of one of the companies to publicly state that the public announcement of his company's removal of advertisements was "unacceptable" and that his company did not intend to take sides in the matter.
Hannity promoted the idea that there is a "deep state" – a network of individuals within government that is working to hinder the Trump administration. He has described the "deep state" as a "Shadow Government" and "Deep state swamp of Obama holdovers and DC lifers". However, the idea's possibility has been disputed. In March 2017, he called for a "purge" of Obama-era bureaucrats and appointees in government. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, conservative columnist Bret Stephens disputed Sean Hannity's deep state allegations, saying they were an example of the "paranoid style in politics". Later that month, Hannity said that NBC News was part of the "deep state". In May 2017, he reiterated that deep state/intelligence operatives were trying to destroy the Trump presidency.
Comments on sexual harassment
In April 2017, Hannity came to the defense of Fox News co-president Bill Shine after it was reported that Shine's job was at risk. At least four lawsuits alleged that Shine had ignored, enabled or concealed Roger Ailes' alleged sexual harassment.
In 2016, Hannity vociferously defended Roger Ailes when he was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment. In May 2017, Hannity paid a tribute to Ailes after his death. Hannity called him "a second father" and said to Ailes's "enemies" that he was "preparing to kick your a** in the next life".
In September 2017, several months after Bill O'Reilly was fired from Fox News in the wake of a number of women alleged that he sexual harassed them, Hannity hosted O'Reilly on his show. Some Fox News employees criticized the decision. In the interview, O'Reilly attacked liberal media watchdog groups and said that he should have fought harder when those groups targeted his advertisers. According to CNN, during the interview, Hannity found kinship with O'Reilly as he appeared "to feel that he and O'Reilly have both become victims of liberals looking to silence them."
Hannity came under criticism in October 2017 when he attacked Democrats after it was revealed that a large number of women had accused Harvey Weinstein, a prominent Hollywood producer and donor to Democratic causes, of sexual harassment. Critics noted that Hannity had weeks earlier defended and hosted his coworker Bill O'Reilly who was fired following a number of sexual harassment allegations.
In 1989, Hannity was fired from a radio job after making anti-gay comments. He called AIDS a "gay disease" and said that the media was hiding salient information from the public. Furthermore, Hannity, said "Anyone listening to this show that believes homosexuality is just a normal lifestyle has been brainwashed… these disgusting people". Hannity "egged on" an anti-gay activist when he said that AIDS spread when gay men consumed each other's faeces, said that homosexuality was a "lower form of behaviour", compared homosexual sex lives to “playing in a sewer" and gay people of being “filled with hatred and bigotry”. When a lesbian woman called into the show, Hannity said "I feel sorry for your child". The ACLU opposed his firing and petitioned the station to reverse their decision. Hannity demanded a formal apology and double the airtime. While the station did offer to allow Hannity to return, they would not meet Hannity's additional demands and he declined to return. In 2017, Hannity said that he regretted the comments and that they were "ignorant and embarrassing".
Hannity opposed amnesty, then he favored a "path to citizenship" before he opposed that idea.
Hannity promoted the idea of "Islamic training camps right here in America", which were based on an unsubstantiated “documentary” by the Christian Action Network.
In 2006, Hannity was critical of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to U.S. Congress, being sworn into office with an oath on a Quran. Hannity equated the Quran with Mein Kampf, asking a guest on his show whether he would have allowed Ellison "to choose, you know, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which is the Nazi bible?"
In 2001, Sean Hannity described the scientific consensus on climate change as "phony science from the left." In 2004, he falsely alleged, "scientists still can’t agree on whether the global warming is scientific fact or fiction". In 2010, Hannity said that so-called "Climategate" - the leaking of e-mails by climate scientist that climate change skeptics claimed demonstrated scientific misconduct but which all subsequent enquiries have found no evidence of misconduct or wrongdoing - a "scandal" that "exposed global warming as a myth cooked up by alarmists." Hannity frequently invites contrarian fringe scientists and critics of climate change to his shows.
Hannity promoted the falsehood that the Affordable Care Act would create so-called "death panels". According to a study by Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan, Hannity's show, along with the Laura Ingraham Show, were the first major conservative media personalities to latch onto the false claim of Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, that the Affordable Care Act contained death panels. When Sarah Palin stirred controversy by promoting the death panels myth, and argued her case in a Facebook post, Hannity defended her and said, "I agree with everything that she wrote". Hannity also claimed that he found the specific pages in the Affordable Care Act containing provisions on death panels.
A 2016 study found that Hannity promoted a number of falsehoods about the Affordable Care Act. For instance, Hannity falsely alleged several times that Democratic Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus had said Social Security could be “insolvent in two years” due to the Affordable Care Act. According to the study, Hannity, unlike other Fox News hosts such as Bill O'Reilly and Greta Van Susteren, "took a more direct approach, aggressively supporting Republicans and conservatives and attacking Democrats and liberals, endorsing the more spurious claims long after they were proven incorrect, and putting advocacy above accurate reporting, to further the network’s themes opposing reform."
False claims about CNN's Jake Tapper
In November 2017, Fox News distorted a statement by Jake Tapper to make it appear as if he had said that "Allahu Akbar" can be used under the most "beautiful circumstances" in the immediate aftermath of the 2017 New York City truck attack wherein a terrorist shouted "Allahu Akbar". Fox News omitted that Jake Tapper had said that the use of "Allahu Akbar" in the terrorist attack was not one of these beautiful circumstances. A headline on FoxNews.com was preceded by a tag reading "OUTRAGEOUS". The Fox News Twitter account distorted the statement even more, saying "Jake Tapper Says 'Allahu Akbar' Is 'Beautiful' Right After NYC Terror Attack" in a tweet that was later deleted.
Hannity has been married to Jill Rhodes since 1993. They have two children and live on Long Island, New York. In 2015, Forbes estimated that Hannity's annual income was $29 million. In 2014 he said that he has carried a weapon "more than half my adult life".
Awards and honors
- Hannity received a Marconi Award in 2003 and 2007 as the Network Syndicated Personality of the Year from the National Association of Broadcasters.
- In 2009, Talkers Magazine listed Hannity as #2 on their list of the 100 most important radio talk show hosts in America. The same magazine gave Hannity their Freedom of Speech Award in 2003.
- In 2005, Jerry Falwell, chancellor of Liberty University, awarded Hannity an honorary degree.
- Radio and Records magazine has honored Hannity with the National Talk Show Host of the Year Award for three consecutive years.
- Hannity, Sean (2002). Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism, ReganBooks, ISBN 0-06-051455-8.
- Hannity, Sean (2004). Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism, ReganBooks, ISBN 0-06-058251-0.
- Hannity, Sean (2010). Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda, Harper Paperbacks, ISBN 0-06-200305-4.
- Hannity, Sean Patrick (December 26, 2011). "About Sean Hannity". Hannity.com. Archived from the original on January 5, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
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