Professional blowhard Sean Hannity fancies himself a bit of a tough guy. Nightly on Fox News, Hannity huffs and puffs, prances and preens his way through a totally macho hour of political-based television. Unsurprisingly, Sean Hannity’s male-jerk TV persona is not totally unrelated to what appears to be his male-jerk real-life persona. On Thursday, CNN reported a particularly disturbing moment where Hannity, after an on-air argument with liberalish Fox contributor Juan Williams, pointed a gun at Williams on the Fox News set. Hannity says it wasn't loaded.
“Last year, after ending one of his many spirited on-air arguments with liberal contributor Juan Williams, Hannity pulled out a gun and pointed it directly at Williams, according to three sources with knowledge of the incident,” according to CNN. “He even turned on the laser sight, causing a red dot to bob around on Williams' body. (Hannity was just showing off, the sources said, but the unforeseen off-camera antic clearly disturbed Williams and others on set.)”
All parties have retrospectively downplayed the incident when reached for comment by CNN, but they didn’t deny Hannity brought a gun to the workplace. “While discussing the issue of firearms, I showed my good friend Juan Williams my unloaded firearm in a professional and safe manner for educational purposes only,” a statement from Hannity read. “This incident is being sensationalized—everything was under total control throughout and I never felt like I was put in harm’s way,” Williams’ statement read. “It was clear that Sean put my safety and security above all else and we continue to be great friends.” Above all else, other than not bringing a gun to work.
None of these statements dispute that Hannity did, in fact, have a gun at work—whether for hunting or educational purposes or something else—nor do they counter the claim that Hannity, minimally, had it out in the open at Fox. What Fox News, Sean Hannity, and Juan Williams dispute is the context in which the gun was displayed. It was a teachable moment; NBD, they say.
For the record: Hannity’s colleagues brought the Williams incident to the attention of Fox News executives, though it's not clear whether anything came of it. The sources said it went to Bill Shine, the network’s co-president and longtime Fox News executive, who is Hannity’s longtime friend and a former producer. A Fox News spokesperson said the incident was referred to the legal and human resources departments. Fox News said in a statement to CNNMoney. “The situation was thoroughly investigated and it was found that no one was put in any danger.”
Camp Fox News seems like a nice place to work—if you’re Sean Hannity.
(Disclosure: I worked at NPR when Juan Williams was a news analyst for the network.)