Sean Hannity wasted no time Thursday night, attacking a New York Times report alleging President Donald Trump unsuccessfully tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last June. The Fox News host and frequent skeptic of the ongoing Russia investigation called the explosive revelation a mere “distraction.”
“Our sources—and I’ve checked with many of them—they’re not confirming that tonight,” Hannity said, about an hour after the story broke.
“How many times has the New York Times and others gotten it wrong?” he continued.
Hannity’s claims against the story, however, were dismantled after he was forced to admit on-air that Fox News’ own Ed Henry had separately confirmed the Times‘ reporting. “So we have sources tonight just confirming that yeah, maybe Donald Trump wanted to fire the special counsel for a conflict,” Hannity said less than an hour after initially undermining the allegations.
“Does he not have the right to raise those questions?” he argued, before swiftly cutting to footage of a random police chase.
HANNITY at 9:15pm: “How many times has The New York times & others gotten it wrong?”
HANNITY at 9:55pm: “Yeah maybe Donald Trump wanted to fire the special counsel for conflict. Does he not have the right to raise those questions? You know, we’ll deal with this tomorrow night.” pic.twitter.com/CKvYqsNwR1
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) January 26, 2018
He then followed up with a tweet attempting to provide cover for his reversal, but still bashing the “liberal media sheep.”
Liberal media sheep shocked @realDonaldTrump thought about firing Corrupt Mueller and his liberal team of Hillary lovers, which HE DID NOT DO! They have NO CLUE about what’s coming. Tick tock, tick tock….Stay tuned Irredeemable deplorables. Best Sean
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) January 26, 2018
A similar narrative carried through the morning at Fox News. “Fox & Friends,” a show that frequently provides the inspiration for Trump’s morning tweets, tried to ignore its own network’s confirmation that Trump did seek to fire Mueller from the Russia probe. The hosts instead parroted Trump’s denial of the report on Friday as “fake news.”
After addressing the report, co-host Ainsley Earhardt took a cue from Hannity’s performance the night before, and quickly pivoted to immigration.
Fox & Friends on Trump trying to fire Mueller: "Well, the president says it's fake news, that happened last June, it's something we have to tell you about because it's a headline on the NY Times. What do you think about that? Do you even care?" pic.twitter.com/4nPB5sv6Fs
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) January 26, 2018