Hannity Rejects Kathy Barnette's Claim That He's to Blame for Primary Loss

Sean Hannity insists he's not to blame for Kathy Barnette's failed Senate bid and instead said the candidate's refusal to answer questions about her record sank her chances.

Hannity, the Fox News personality, on Wednesday slapped down Barnette's claim that he spread "disinformation" that "almost single-handedly" hamstrung her campaign in its final days. The exchange points to a lingering rift between Hannity and Barnette as dust settles in the hotly contested Pennsylvania GOP primary.

"She is unelectable in Pennsylvania in a general election," said Hannity on his program, noting the significance of the race. He added, "This is a must-win Senate race for Republicans, if, in fact, they have any hope of taking over the Senate."

Pennsylvania's Senate Republican primary has yet to be called a day after Tuesday's election that saw a three-way race between the leading "America First" candidates.

Sean Hannity at Event
Fox News personality Sean Hannity said he isn't responsible for Kathy Barnette's failed Senate bid in the Pennsylvania GOP primary. Above, Hannity attends the launch of Geraldo Rivera's book at Del Frisco's Grille on April 2, 2018, in New York City. Theo Wargo/Getty Images

The most recent count from state election officials had Dr. Mehmet Oz slightly ahead with just over 31 percent of the vote. Former hedge fund executive David McCormick remained in second, with roughly a thousand votes separating the two.

Barnette saw a surge in support days before the election as the conservative commentator presented herself as an outsider in the mold of former President Donald Trump, despite Trump giving his sought-after endorsement to Oz. But Barnette remained stuck in third Wednesday night with about a quarter of the vote.

"I do want to say, never forget what Sean Hannity did in this race," said Barnette in a video she posted to Twitter earlier Wednesday from her rural Pennsylvania home.

A relaxed Barnette spent most of the three-minute video expressing gratitude to all her supporters, while taking a moment for a swipe at Hannity. She said Hannity spread disinformation and "flat-out lies every night for the past five days," which she said was "just extremely hard to overcome, apparently."

As Barnette rose in the polls, Trump said she wouldn't win in the general election because of what he said were too many things in her past that hadn't been "properly explained or vetted."

In the run-up to the primary, Hannity used his program to further cast doubt on Barnette's electability. In a segment last Friday, Hannity highlighted what he called her history of "extremely controversial comments" about Islam, the LGBTQ community and others. Hannity also brought up what he called "holes in her resumé," saying her campaign refused to answer questions about her work history and military service.

On Wednesday, Hannity said he stood by his scrutiny of Barnette, saying his show's staff repeatedly reached out to her for comment.

"But I really don't need to defend myself," said Hannity. "You're the one that really needs to answer the questions about all of your comments, and all of your tweets that are there. You can lash out at me all you want."

Barnette's campaign wrote to Newsweek Wednesday and disputed that Hannity had reached out to her for a response.

"Sean Hannity used his platform to solely suppress the Kathy Barnette vote," the campaign said in an email.

In an interview with Newsweek, Barnette pointed to a tweet from May 12 where she said she was willing to come on Hannity's program with Oz for a "fair and balanced discussion." Hannity later said no to her idea in a tweet, saying it wouldn't be fair to the other candidates.

"As Sean Hannity has previously stated and has the backup records to prove, the show reached out to Kathy Barnette, both directly and through her campaign, on numerous occasions to address the issues," a Fox News spokesperson told Newsweek in an email. "The Barnette team ignored all our outreach."

Updated 05/19/2022, 5:20 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with comments from Barnette's campaign.

Updated 05/19/2022, 8:30 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with comments from Fox News.