Fox News & # 39; surprised & # 39; for Hannity’s relationship with Cohen, but he backs it up

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  Look: What Sean Hannity has said about Michael Cohen

Something is not adding up in the case of Michael Cohen and Sean Hannity.

But Hannity's employer, Fox News, says he fully supports it.

"While Fox News was unaware of Sean Hannity's informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was shocked by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and talked to Sean and he continues to have our full support," the network said. Tuesday. late.

The statement puts an end to questions about whether the network knew about the legal relationship of Hannity and Cohen.

But it is likely to raise new questions about the lack of accountability for highly qualified and highly skilled Fox talk show hosts.

Hannity is Fox's top-rated star and one of the main advocates of President Trump. Cohen is Trump's personal lawyer whose office and residences were raided by federal investigators last week. Critics immediately pounced on possible conflicts of interest.

There were audible screams in court Monday when it was revealed that Hannity was the third mystery client Cohen was trying to keep secret. Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who was in the room, said it was like "a bomb went off."

Hannity hastened to respond, first on her radio show, then with tweets and then on her television show. On Monday night, Hannity played down the legal relationship and said: "Cohen never represented me on any legal issue."

He said that the two men conversed occasionally, and their questions "focused almost exclusively" on real estate.

Hannity said: "I never kept his services, I never received a bill, I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees."

But if that's true, why did Cohen's lawyer identify Hannity as a client in federal court?

Cillizza: I still have five questions for Hannity about Michael Cohen

Some of Hannity's explanations are also very unpleasant. On the radio that same day, Hannity said "I could have given her ten dollars" and told Cohen "I definitely want lawyer-client privileges on this" sometimes.

The revelation caused a serious headache for Fox News. Fox waited a total of 24 hours to comment on the matter, an unusually long delay before expressing his support.

By hiding a friendship and a legal relationship with one of the president's lawyers, Hannity seemed to be in conflict with ethical standards in the news business.

But things are sometimes different in Fox News, where Hannity does not follow the same rules as its colleagues, both within the network and in the industry in general. He proudly says that he is not a "journalist", although at other times he calls himself an "opinion journalist" and says that his program is "real news".

Hannity said on Twitter that he badumed that his conversations with Cohen "were confidential."

Now it's an open question if those conversations are in the hands of federal investigators.

Cohen's raid last week allegedly made raids and confidential documents.

Monday's court proceeding was mainly about how the evidence would be reviewed and used by the government. Experts say that Cohen and his former client, President Trump, could be in legal danger.

The story of Hannity is just a sidebar, but certainly confusing.

Related: Hannity has few rules, and that's why Fox now has a problem

Hannity said in Fox on Monday night that his conversations with Cohen "never reached any level that I had to tell anyone "I was asking him questions."

The disclosure question came up repeatedly on Monday, even on Fox's talk show "The Five."

"The question for me is why Sean he did not reveal this before. "co-host Juan Williams said.

Later in the day, the network is at 8 pm presenter Tucker Carlson strongly defended Hannity.

" Sean Hannity is a program presenter interviews No one investigates it for nothing. Who you hire as a lawyer, and why, it's nobody's business, "Carlson said," No judge has the right to violate your privacy or anyone else's privacy. "Those used to be the rules, but the rules have changed."

Carlson then pivoted to say that the purpose of Robert Mueller's special investigation on Russia "is not to find collusion," the point is "to hurt Trump and anyone." close to Trump "

The anti-Mueller and anti-FBI themes are a daily feature of Fox's pro Trump talk shows.

Hannity was trying to host one of those segments on Monday night when the guest Alan Dershowitz brought the Cohen predicament.

"I really think he should have revealed his relationship with Cohen when he talked about him on this show," Dershowitz said.

Hannity responded by saying it was a "minimal" relationship.

Dershowitz said "by the way, you had the right not to reveal your identity," and Hannity agreed: "I have the right to privacy. Yes. "

CNNMoney (New York) First published on April 17, 2018: 7:49 AM ET

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