Here's What Fox News Hosts Said About Sean Hannity Being Revealed As Michael Cohen's Mystery Client

Cable television titan Fox News provided mixed reactions on the air Monday in the aftermath of the revelation that the network's most-watched host, Sean Hannity, was a client of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney.

Hannity has been criticized for not disclosing his ties to Cohen before blasting the raid of the attorney's office and residence on his show. The network has also been chastised and its ethics questioned.

Hannity, who hosts the nation's highest rated prime-time news program, was named as Cohen's third client in a federal court proceeding Monday in New York. Originally, Cohen's lawyers named only Trump and former Republican National Committee deputy finance chair Elliott Broidy as clients of Cohen, but the judge presiding over the case insisted the third client be named.

Fox News reporter Laura Ingle, reporting outside the courthouse, reacted to the revelation by first breaking down the particulars of the case and then explained how Hannity was named as a Cohen client by one of the latter's attorneys.

"And he named him as Sean Hannity. Moving on...." Ingle said.

Back in the network's studio, anchor Shepard Smith initially said that he needed to address the "elephant in the room" and that attempts were being made to reach Hannity for comment.

Later, Smith got word from a publicist for Hannity. "We just spoke with his publicist here at Fox News, who says that he says they've been friends for a long time, he never denied that he was his lawyer, that he did some legal work along the way, and that's the extent of that."

Hannity made similar statements both on his national radio show, which went on the air Monday afternoon mere minutes after his name was dropped in federal court, as well as on his TV show later in the evening. He dismissed speculation that his relationship with Cohen was nefarious in any way, stating that they had been friends for years.

"Michael Cohen never represented me in any legal matter," Hannity said. "I never retained his services, I never received an invoice, I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees. I did have occasional brief conversations with Michael Cohen—he's a great attorney—about legal questions I had where I was looking for input and perspective."

Later, Hannity had attorney Alan Dershowitz as a guest, and Dershowitz said outright that Hannity should have disclosed Cohen had done legal work for him.

"First of all, Sean, I want to say that I really think that you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen when you talked about him on this show. You could have said that you had asked him for advice or whatever, but I think it would have been much, much better had you disclosed that relationship," Dershowitz said.

A very different perspective was offered by Fox's Tucker Carlson, whose show airs right before Hannity's. Carlson defended his colleague, claiming he has a right to privacy, before challenging the judge presiding over Cohen's case for insisting that Hannity's name be revealed.

"Sean plans to address this more broadly in just a bit on Fox," Carlson said, "but keep in mind that Sean Hannity is a talk show host. He's not under investigation by anyone for anything. Who he hires as a lawyer and why is nobody's business. No judge has a right to violate his privacy or anybody else's."

On Tuesday morning, the Fox & Friends hosts cited Hannity's statements and explained how they believed it was perfectly logical for him to consult with Cohen. Co-host Brian Kilmeade said it was typical for the network to reach out to a legal expert for stories or reports.

"But, I mean, I know too, it makes total sense, if you have a lawyer and you're trying to buy something and get to be friendly with that, how many times do we have the judge on the couch and we'll say something to the judge, 'Hey, judge, what's going on with this?' Or let's say there's—[co-host] Ainsley [Earhardt] owns a lot of real estate in New York City, most of the big buildings she owns. You might throw a question out about—legally, do I have a standing here?" Kilmeade said.

Asked to comment on Monday's revelation about Hannity, a Fox News spokesperson referred Newsweek to Hannity's own statements.

sean hannity
Fox News host Sean Hannity in the White House briefing room on January 24, 2017. Hannity was named Monday in court as a client of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal attorney. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Here's What Fox News Hosts Said About Sean Hannity Being Revealed As Michael Cohen's Mystery Client | U.S.