Nothing proves that Hannity’s support for RFK Jr. was cynical and self-serving like the sudden about-face once RFK Jr. decided to run as an independent candidate.
Media Matters has a good summary of the situation:
When anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced his presidential run in April 2023, Fox News hosts and personalities hyped the Democratic candidate in hopes that he would siphon votes from Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.
On October 9, Kennedy announced that he would run as a third-party independent candidate, drawing condemnation from Donald Trump’s campaign amid concerns that he would take more votes from Trump than Biden. The following day, Fox News host Sean Hannity ambushed Kennedy on-air with a list of Trump campaign talking points enumerating Kennedy’s liberal policies and endorsements in stark contrast to the network’s frequent praise beforehand – including Hannity himself in September 2023 urging Kennedy to run as a third-party candidate.
Media Matters also provides a good roundup of Fox News hosts, including Sean Hannity, slobbering over Robert F. Kennedy Jr. when the candidate was running as a Democrat, including these:
Hannity begged Kennedy to run as a third-party candidate in the general election. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/12/23]
Hannity praised Kennedy for “delivering a much-needed dose of reality to the entire Democratic Party” with his visit to the southern border. Hannity then described his candidacy as “getting very interesting” and a “strong performance.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/7/23]
In June, I wrote about The Five cohosts gushing over Kennedy after he posted video on social media of himself lifting weights and doing pushups. Cohost Jeanine Pirro said at the time, “I do think that RFK Jr. should probably run as an independent.”
Now that Kennedy is running as an independent, Hannity repeatedly portrayed Kennedy as a liberal. (FACT CHECK: he isn't.)
HANNITY: So, I hope you don't mind, but I did a little research on you, you're pretty liberal. You know, you've called for curbing, logging, oil drilling, fracking -- you wanted to eliminate it. You called it a victory for democracy. You want to curb U.S. fossil fuel extraction, keep it in the ground you once tweeted. You want a ban on fossil fuel extraction, ban on fracking. You called the NRA once a terror group.
You've supported over the years Democrats -- Gore, Kerry, Obama, Hillary. You praised Bernie Sanders multiple times. You support affirmative action.
So why is this party of yours -- why didn't they even want to allow you to compete because that's as pretty liberal of a record as anybody I know?
All this information was available to Hannity during the time he was pro-Kennedy. Funny how it wasn’t a problem until now.
Kennedy pointed out that Hannity was regurgitating Trump campaign talking points which elicited a denial. “These are not talking points. These are called Hannity points. I do my own research.”
Hannity threw Kennedy a few bones such as, “Your party treated you horribly. I think you deserve better. I don’t like the way your own family even treated you.” Hannity also said he’d have Kennedy back and that he’d “love” to do a second town hall together.
I wouldn’t count on either of those happening, if I were Kennedy. This exchange was pretty much a giveaway that Kennedy will no longer be deemed useful to the show and probably not to the rest of the propaganda network, either:
HANNITY: To be honest, I think you're being honest in your positions but I don't think you can convince any conservative that you have any conservative leanings except for a couple of issues, maybe some conservatives would agree on the border, maybe some would agree on your vaccine policy especially with COVID.
Where else would you say you're conservative?
KENNEDY: Well, I wouldn't describe myself at this point as part of the conservative ideology or the Democratic ideology. I would describe myself as part of the common-sense ideology.
Just like former Fox fave Vivek Ramaswamy, Kennedy got the Fox heave-ho out of the in-crowd once he was deemed no longer politically useful.
You can watch it below, from the October 10, 2023 Hannity.
Even while attempting to put the stink on Kennedy, Hannity tries to score bonus points by baiting Kennedy into bashing Democrats.