Sean Hannity defied his own words on Monday.
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s final election rally, the Fox News host said he wouldn’t appear on stage with the President to help excite the Republican base before voters head to the polls Tuesday.
“To be clear, I will not be on stage campaigning with the president,” Hannity tweeted Monday morning, adding that he would simply “be doing a live show” from the scene.
A Fox News spokesperson offered a similar message to CNN and other news organizations, insisting Hannity would only be at the rally in Missouri to broadcast his show and cover the event for the network.
But, approximately 12 hours after Hannity posted his tweet, he was campaigning on stage with Trump in one of the clearest demonstrations yet of the cozy relationship between the network and the Trump White House.
“Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events. We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight and we are extremely proud of their work. This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed,” a Fox spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
Hannity himself also tweeted Tuesday, “What I said in my tweet yesterday was 100% truthful. When the POTUS invited me on stage to give a few remarks last night, I was surprised, yet honored by the president’s request. This was NOT planned.”
It happened almost immediately after Trump took the stage in Missouri following an introduction from conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who had warmed the crowd up.
Trump, who had appeared live on Hannity’s show during a backstage conversation just moments before, summoned the Fox News host to the stage, and he obliged.
Hannity’s first remark on stage with the President? He attacked members of the media covering the rally, saying, “By the way, all those people in the back are fake news.”
As observers pointed out, Fox News journalists were among the “people in the back” that Hannity insulted.
In his Tuesday tweets, Hannity said, “[T]o be clear, I was not referring to my journalist colleagues at FOX News in those remarks. They do amazing work day in and day out in a fair and balanced way and it is an honor to work with such great professionals.”
Hannity wasn’t the only Fox News host to appear on stage at the rally. Following Hannity’s brief remarks, Trump introduced Jeanine Pirro.
“There’s a woman on Saturday night who treats us very well,” Trump said, praising Pirro’s fiery opening monologues as “always brilliant.”
When Pirro took the stage, she urged the crowd to turn out the vote for Republican candidates.
Hannity and Pirro spent the night broadcasting from the rally while simultaneously hyping the crowd ahead of Trump’s arrival. Hannity said on his show that he had been “throwing footballs, signing hats and taking pictures” with members of the audience.
And after Hannity spoke with Trump backstage, Bill Shine, the former Fox News president turned White House communications director, offered him a high-five, according to the White House pool report.
While Fox News had no immediate comment on Hannity campaigning with Trump at Monday night’s rally, the network had previously spoken out when Hannity appeared in a 2016 Trump ad.
At that time, a Fox News spokesperson said that the network “had no knowledge” that Hannity had participated in the advertisement, adding that he would “not be doing anything along these lines for the remainder of the election.”
By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business