Over the course of one broadcast, the Fox News host went from denying the New York Times‘ report to confirming it to suggesting it was insignificant.
Viewers of the Sean Hannity Show watched in real-time Thursday night as their host was forced to admit that reports of President Donald Trump’s attempt to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller were true, after he’d spent part of the broadcast attacking the New York Times’ story.
Later, countless people online witnessed Hannity’s coverage as the clip went viral.
Early in the show, Sean Hannity dismissed the Times’ report that Trump had ordered the dismissal of Mueller, who stepped in to run the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia after the president fired former FBI director James Comey last spring.
“The New York Times is trying to distract you,” Hannity told his audience. “They have a story that Trump wanted Mueller fired sometime last June, and our sources, and I’ve checked in with many of them, they’re not confirming that tonight…And how many times has the New York Times and others gotten it wrong?”
He later said that his sources could indeed confirm that the story was true.
Sean Hannity: The New York Times is trying to distract you. They say Trump tried to fire Mueller, but our sources aren’t confirming that!
Sean Hannity, minutes later: Alright, yeah, maybe our sources confirm Trump wanted to fire Mueller. But so what? That’s his right. Anywho… pic.twitter.com/yUIt7Un56d
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 26, 2018
Although Hannity’s tone in his first mention of the story suggested that the Times’report, if true, would be a significant development, he took on a dismissive attitude when acknowledging that the president wanted to fire the official in charge of investigating him.
“Yeah, maybe Donald Trump wanted to fire the special counsel for conflict. Does he not have the right to raise those questions?” he said, shrugging, before quickly changing the subject to a high-speed car chase in Arizona.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said that attempting to fire Mueller is a red line that the president must not cross.
On social media, Hannity’s backtracking garnered attention from journalists and critics.
I tell you, if Sean Hannity wasn’t doing irreparable harm to our country this would be undeniably hilarious. https://t.co/iEIEniV1us
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) January 26, 2018