On The Bill Press Show, Matt Gertz highlights the lack of accountability Hannity faces from Fox News for his conflict of interest

Media Matters Senior Fellow Matt Gertz: “This is how it works at Fox News. There are no rules for someone like Sean Hannity.”

From the April 18 edition of Free Speech TV's The Bill Press Show:

Video file

​BILL PRESS (HOST): So what was your reaction yesterday when Fox News comes out and says no we didn't know, we were totally blindsided (one word, no hyphen per AP) when we found out that Sean Hannity had a business relationship with Michael Cohen. He never revealed that on his own broadcast when he would attack Robert Mueller, attack the FBI for raiding the office of Michael Cohen. Never said anything about that. So Fox says we were totally blindsided by that, but we are 100 percent behind him.

MATT GERTZ (MEDIA MATTERS SENIOR FELLOW): Yeah. It's both totally shocking and completely expected, right? This is a statement from Fox that they didn't know that Sean Hannity had a huge conflict of interest when he was commenting on the Cohen raid the previous week, but now that they know, they really don't --

PRESS: Which is probably true by the way, right?

GERTZ: Yeah. I have no reason to disbelieve that. I don't think that Sean Hannity checks in with anyone about his conflicts of interest. I think he's basically on an island and does whatever he wants, and Fox is fine with that. So I totally believe that they didn't know. It's interesting that they refer to it as his informal connection with Cohen. That's very much buying into the way Sean Hannity has described his interactions, which is that this was largely marginal, “I took some advice from him,” largely but not entirely about real estate issues.

PRESS: All about real estate. 

GERTZ: No, not all. Almost all about -- we don't know what the rest of it is. I maybe gave him $10 now and again to make sure it was covered by lawyer-client privilege. The issue here is that Sean Hannity and Michael Cohen are both huge liars who are at cross purposes. It's in Cohen's interest to suggest that his legal work for Hannity is a big deal because that way he can argue that it should all be covered by lawyer-client privilege and thus should not be revealed to federal investigators. It's in Hannity's interest to say actually this was nothing because that minimizes the sort of blowback he gets for having a massive conflict of interest on air.

So Fox says we didn't know anything about this conflict of interest, but I think the rest of the statement was something like we have reviewed it and talked with Sean and we fully support him. And that's it. There's no indication here that Sean did anything wrong, that they plan to do --

PRESS: They don't say anything at all.

GERTZ: Yeah, no. There's no indication of wrongdoing. There's no indication that this is in some way against some sort of Fox ethics rules, which is kind of a hilarious idea in the first place. There's nothing in there that says Sean Hannity won't be allowed to do this again, or we're going to take some steps to make sure if there are any other conflicts of interest they'll be disclosed. Or this particular conflict of interest would be disclosed in the future. And there's no name on the statement, which is really the sort of cherry on top, right? It's a statement from Fox News, not a statement from a particular person, so no one's responsible or accountable, which is basically how things work at Fox in general.

PRESS: So nobody at Fox News owns up to this statement.

GERTZ: No. It's a statement from Fox News. So this is basically -- and this is why I say it's expected -- this is how things works at Fox News. There are no rules for someone like Sean Hannity. There are none at all. He can do what he wants. Occasionally he will overstep a line in some way that creates a scandal that leads to Fox saying something, but there's never any actual disciplinary action --

PRESS: No consequences.

GERTZ: No consequences. No consequences, no accountability.

PETER OGBURN (THE BILL PRESS SHOW PRODUCER): We have talked about this before, right? When Roger Ailes was still around. He was Fox News. He ran Fox News, and if it wasn't him it was Bill Shine. Both of them are gone now. And who there is going to be able to talk to Sean Hannity and tell Sean Hannity you can't do that, that's bad for the network. Because it's kind of Sean Hannity's network now. There is no Roger Ailes, there is no Bill Shine, there's nobody really in charge that is able to go to someone like Sean Hannity who's been there essentially from the get-go and say this is bad for our network. Because who's going to tell him? Who knows better than Sean Hannity?

To watch the full interview, click here.


Sean Hannity is Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's secret client

Fox News on Hannity’s Cohen conflict: We don’t care

Former federal prosecutor: Sean Hannity’s Michael Cohen explanation makes no sense