Fox News anchors have been hesitant to criticize their colleague Sean Hannity in light of today’s news that he was represented in some fashion by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
But CNN’s Anderson Cooper did not hold back in condemning Hannity’s blatant conflict of interest at the top of his prime-time show Monday night. Cooper noted to viewers that the “most stunning moment” of Cohen’s court hearing came when his lawyer was forced to reveal the identity of his “mystery client” and reluctantly named Hannity. “So it would seem the president and Sean Hannity share more than dinners and frequent phone calls and a mutual love of Fox News programming,” the anchor said. “They also share an attorney.”
He went on to air the clip of Hannity insisting on his radio show this afternoon that Cohen “has never represented me in any matter” even if he did occasionally have “brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.” Hannity also said he assumed their conversations were “confidential.”
“So he seems to be saying, ‘I wasn’t really a client of attorney Michael Cohen’s but our conversations were confidential because he is an attorney and I am his client,” Cooper remarked. In either event, Cooper pointed out that Hannity had reported on the FBI raid on Cohen’s office last week “as if he had absolutely no connection to the story.”
Instead, Hannity told viewers the raid was proof that special counsel Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt investigation is now a runaway train that is clearly careening off the tracks.”
“No disclosure, no disclaimer, not even a casual mention that, ‘Oh yeah, this guy also represents me in some form or fashion, mostly real estate,’” Cooper said, echoing Hannity’s defensive statement on Monday.
After playing a clip from Hannity’s radio show in which he said he “can only imagine” where Mueller’s “fishing expedition” will lead, Cooper replied, “He can definitely imagine at least one place where it might lead—to his own name.”
“Not disclosing a business or legal relationship with someone you report on and have had on as your guest at least 16 times since Donald Trump declared his presidency, that doesn’t sound either fair nor balanced,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, during the same hour on Fox News, Tucker Carlson defended his colleague’s “privacy,” telling viewers, “Sean Hannity is a talk show host. He’s not under investigation by anyone for anything. Who he hires as a lawyer and why is nobody’s business.”