If you ask me, palling around with Bill O’Reilly is not the best look for Sean Hannity, just weeks after he was sued for sexually harassing a guest. On the other hand, O’Reilly is not the first or even the second accused sexual harasser Hannity has been known to cozy up to.
As I’ve previously posted, Cathy Areu, a once-regular Fox guest has sued Hannity, claiming that he “threw $100 on the set desk” and “began calling out to the men in the room and demanding that someone take Ms. Areu out on a date,” as the complaint states.
Areu also claims she was mortified and sent a pleading look to a friend who was present to accept the money and end the humiliation. (She also sued Fox News, Tucker Carlson and Ed Henry, the latter two over different allegations.)
Fox has disputed her claims to Mediaite, saying that Hannity gave $100 to Areu's friend to go out for drinks. The network provided that site with copies of emails from Areu to Hannity thanking him.
As Mediaite tells it, Fox did not deny Hannity effectively auctioned off Areu before her friend claimed the money. Does Areu’s repeated thanks to Hannity void her claim of being mortified and humiliated? I don’t know. I'll wait for more information.
But I do know that it doesn’t make Hannity look any more innocent to be championing O’Reilly who was forced out of Fox after millions of dollars in sexual harassment settlements were made public.
Granted, Hannity has a new book to hawk. But he couldn’t have sounded chummier on O’Reilly’s web show last night. Media Matters has more:
The worst part was when O’Reilly, citing a part of Hannity’s book, claimed that Trump and anyone who works with him or plays golf with him is subjected to hatred like threats of sexual assault. (O’Reilly pivoted to this point after telling an anecdote about a horrendous threat of sexual assault against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.) Hannity and O’Reilly discussed all of this without ever mentioning the sexual harassment settlements against O’Reilly for tens of millions of dollars.
But even with all that discussion, the interview never revealed more than the obvious: O’Reilly needed Hannity, and Hannity was more than willing to help out. It even concluded with Hannity promising to come on the show again when O’Reilly’s next book comes out.
As Media Matters also notes, “it didn’t take long after O’Reilly was fired for Hannity to rally to his cause.” Hannity infuriated his own colleagues by seeming to offer O’Reilly a job “back on Fox.” While that has not happened (so far), O’Reilly was a star guest on Hannity’s Fox show. Hannity had previously called O’Reilly the victim of a “liberal fascist” campaign to push him off the air.
All that is distasteful enough. But when you put it in the context of Areu’s lawsuit, well, let’s just say it doesn’t make Hannity look like a guy who would never harass a woman.
And Hannity seems to have a penchant for men who are accused of sexual harassment and abuse. Last I checked, 25 women have accused Hannity’s Bedtime BFF, Donald Trump, of sexual misconduct, including rape. There’s also Roger Ailes, the former Fox head who was also forced out over sexual harassment accusations.
When Ailes died, Hannity and Carlson (another defendant in Areu’s lawsuit, just saying) had nothing but fond reminiscences of Ailes to share on the air. There was not one word about the women he victimized. Not even a mention of why Ailes left Fox.
Of course, none of this proves that Hannity harassed Areu. But it sure does nothing to persuade me he didn’t.
You can watch Hannity on O’Reilly’s August 4, 2020 No Spin News below, via Media Matters.
(August 7, 2020 correction: The first paragraph was updated to add the word "accused" before "sexual harasser.")
Hannity followed up by having O’Reilly on in his usual slot on Wednesday, with a few further cupcake questions about how they hope Trump will be re-elected. As a sidenote, O’Reilly has commented that with 2020, he’s had it with the Dems and can’t even THINK of voting for any Dem. When Hannity asked O’Reilly a week ago about if he’d ever voted for a Dem, O’Reilly said of 1996, “Well, I didn’t vote for Dole.” He didn’t say that he voted for Clinton, which is wise, given that Roger Ailes would have thrown him off the top of the NewsCorp building. Just that he didn’t vote for Dole – which I suppose for O’Reilly is just the same.
O’Reilly has never recovered from the humiliation of being fired from Fox News, and the loss of his long-held wish to become an “elder statesman” like he believes Brit Hume to be. These days, he spends his time noodling from his home on his webpage content, including his homemade version of his “No Spin News”. He’s grabbed at any opportunity thrown to him for attention, including a quickie AM radio “update” he’s allowed to do, and the freebie he got from the mini-digi Far Right webchannel “The First”.
O’Reilly had spent much of the past three years making regular appearances on the radio shows of Hannity, Bernie & Sid and Glenn Beck – although he’s been absent from Beck’s show for months. (There’s some issues about a cruise they were supposed to lead in the spring that fell apart due to COVID amid many angry patrons who never got refunds…)