According to a CNN report, Sean Hannity pulled out a gun and showed it to his fellow Fox News contributor Juan Williams last October, in the wake of, as CNN’s Dylan Byers puts it, one of Hannity’s “many spirited on-air arguments” during the course of his show’s many enervating one-sided arguments. The fact that Hannity brought his gun to set, then showed it off to his “good friend”—an action that, in any normal workplace, would get you an HR write-up at minimum, followed by a mandatory McGruff The Crime Dog video—is not in dispute. But Hannity, Williams, and Fox News all disagree with CNN on just how Hannity showed Williams his firearm, with Hannity insisting that it was solely for Williams’ own education.
In the original report, Byers claims three separate sources said Hannity “pulled out his gun and pointed it directly at Williams,” even turning on the laser sight and “causing a red dot to bob around on Williams’s body.” The incident reportedly left Williams and others who witnessed it “clearly disturbed,” which prompted some of Hannity’s colleagues to bring it to the attention of Fox News executives—specifically Bill Shine, network co-president and “Hannity’s longtime friend.” However, a Fox News spokesperson tells CNN that “the situation was thoroughly investigated” through its legal and human resources departments and “it was found that no one was put in any danger,” adding in a statement that “Sean Hannity has been trained in firearm safety since he was 11 years old and has a license to carry a gun in five states, including New York.”
For anyone not mollified by the assurances of the department tasked with ensuring that all Fox News employees feel safe and/or paying out $35 million in sexual harassment claims when they don’t, the network also provided statements from Hannity and Williams themselves, who insisted that this was all just a normal, impromptu gun safety demonstration at work between pals. “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,” Hannity said, a firm believer in Chekhov’s show-don’t-tell style, if not the rule of Chekhov’s gun. “Every precautionary procedure that I have been trained in since the age of 11 was followed. I’ve had a concealed carry permit in five states for all of my adult life. Any other interpretation of this is outright false reporting.”
Williams echoed that sentiment, offering a warm statement on how he felt considered and protected while Hannity spontaneously showed him his gun. “This incident is being sensationalized—everything was under total control throughout and I never felt like I was put in harm’s way,” Williams said. “It was clear that Sean put my safety and security above all else and we continue to be great friends.” Williams did not say so, but it’s presumed that he’d agree with Hannity that, when his buddy pulled out his gun and showed it to him, he really learned a lot.
The thrust of Byers’ piece is that Hannity, newly emboldened by being among the only journalists trusted to tell it like it is in Donald Trump’s mind, has become increasingly pugnacious of late, regularly “spoiling for a fight” with other journalists and dismissing anyone who criticizes him as a “jackass,” while increasingly brandishing the sort of bullying, juvenile, alpha-male air that now defines America’s perpetual adolescent twilight. Hannity has spent the hours since Byers’ report was published countering that assessment by attacking him on Twitter, calling him a “fake news hack” while bragging that his network is kicking CNN’s ass.
Hopefully Sean Hannity can recover from this baseless, fake-news attempt at smearing his reputation over a little harmless gun-brandishing, so he can get back to doing his job of reporting real journalism, like how the Hawaii judge who blocked Trump’s travel ban probably did so because he’d enjoyed “a little weed and maybe even a little blow” with Barack Obama.