Sean Hannity Shouts Down Geraldo Rivera for Criticizing Ron DeSantis Over COVID Spike

Fox News' Hannity was a tense show on Thursday evening, as host Sean Hannity clashed with regular commentator Geraldo Rivera over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' handling of the latest wave of COVID-19 sweeping the country, driven by the Delta variant.

Hannity set up the segment to attack President Joe Biden's immigration policy, which Republicans say has created a crisis at the southern border amid a record number of new arrivals.

While Hannity claimed the new arrivals would bring more coronavirus cases into the U.S., Rivera sought to question DeSantis' handling of the crisis in Florida, where the governor has pushed back against restrictions on businesses, mask mandates, and vaccine passports.

"If you go there and you try and defend Joe, as much as I love you, I'm going to burst a blood vessel," Hannity said to Rivera at the start of the segment. "Open borders, no testing, no vaccine mandates, dispersing people all over the country—Geraldo, our fellow Americans will die because of this stupidity."

Rivera disputed Hannity's framing before trying to pull the conversation towards Florida. "I reject that characterization, that harsh characterization," he said of Hannity's remarks, though added that Biden's policy is "absolutely foolhardy"—to which Hannity quickly replied: "He's a jackass for doing it."

Rivera continued: "I believe in vaccine mandates. I believe in vaccine passports. I believe that everybody coming into this country—legal, illegal, alien, earth person—wherever they are from, if they're coming into this country I insist that every one of them is vaccinated...If they don't want to be vaccinated, turn them around right there."

"This has nothing to do with Joe," Rivera said to anger from Hannity, who repeatedly shouted over his guest criticizing the president. Right-wing radio host Dan Bongino joined Hannity as a guest, also shouting down Rivera's hints that DeSantis and Florida had handled the Delta variant wave poorly.

"On Tuesday in Florida there were over 16,000 new COVID infections. Yesterday, there were nearly 17,000," Rivera said, before Hannity jumped in declaring: "No, this is not bash Ron DeSantis. A lot of these cases are coming here because of Joe."

"Ron DeSantis saved every older person. He used every state agency," Hannity added.

Geraldo: On Tuesday in Florida there were over 16 thousand new COVID infections. Yesterday, there were nearly 17 thousand
Hannity: No, this is not bash Ron DeSantis. A lot of these cases are coming here because of Joe

— Acyn (@Acyn) August 6, 2021

DeSantis is considered one of the frontrunners for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. His libertarian, anti-lockdown stance through the coronavirus pandemic has won him the support of many leading GOP figures, as has his close relationship with former President Donald Trump.

But the governor is now grappling with a new wave of infections. On Thursday, the state reported 20,133 new infections, with a seven-day average of 18,120 new cases. More than 12,000 people are currently in hospital in the Sunshine State, with just under half of Florida's population fully vaccinated.

DeSantis is under fire for his zeal in re-opening the state earlier this year and opposing any new public health restrictions. Dan Gelber, the mayor of Miami Beach, this week described the governor as the "Pied Piper of COVID-19, leading everybody off a cliff."

Ron DeSantis, Kevin McCarthy at Florida presser
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks as House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California listens during a press conference held at the Assault Brigade 2506 Honorary Museum on August 05, 2021 in Hialeah, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images