WASHINGTON – Angry Fox News executives ordered Sean Hannity to abandon plans, announced as late as this afternoon on his nationally syndicated radio program, to broadcast his TV show from a Cincinnati tea-party rally he was headlining, a Los Angeles Times media blog reported.
Hannity, on a book tour for his No. 1 best-seller “Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda,” was scheduled to be the featured speaker at a four-hour rally at the University of Cincinnati – with as many as 13,000 in attendance. Proceeds from the event were to benefit a local tea-party organization.
But senior Fox News executives said they were not aware Hannity was being billed as the centerpiece of the event or that tea-party organizers were charging for admission to Hannity’s show as part of the rally. They first learned of it this morning from John Finley, Hannity’s executive producer, who was in Cincinnati to produce Hannity’s show, reported the Times’ media blog “Show Tracker.”
Attendees were being charged a minimum of $5, with seats near Hannity’s set going for $20.
The execs reportedly recalled Hannity to New York to do his show in his regular studio. The network plans to do an extensive postmortem about the incident with Finley and Hannity’s staff.
“Fox News never agreed to allow the Cincinnati Tea Party organizers to use Sean Hannity’s television program to profit from broadcasting his show from the event,” said Bill Shine, the network’s executive vice president of programming, according to the Times blog. “When senior executives in New York were made aware of this, we changed our plans for tonight’s show.”
Last week, News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch said before a Washington, D.C. crowd that Fox News should not be supporting the movement.
“I don’t think we should be supporting the Tea Party or any other party,” he said. Earlier this week, the network published an article to its website that was semi-critical of the tea party.
Reached in New York, Hannity declined to comment other than to say he planned to do his show tonight in studio.
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