Sean Hannity, cable news’s most-watched TV host, said he doesn’t consider himself a journalist, as he colorfully explained on Twitter in 2016. But Wednesday night on his show, he unintentionally landed a major scoop when President Donald Trump’s new attorney Rudy Giuliani sat down for an hour-long interview.
Toward the end of the program, the two discussed the $130,000 payment Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen made to Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels.
“A settlement payment which is a very regular thing for lawyers to do,” Giuliani called it, adding, “That was money that was paid by his lawyer, the way I would do out of his law firm funds or whatever funds, it doesn’t matter. The president reimbursed that over a period of several months,” Giuliani said, almost in passing.
“I distinctly remember that (Cohen) did it on his own without asking,” Hannity said, defending the president and moving on to the “witch hunt” Hannity claims the whole investigation has become.
Hannity didn’t realize it, but he had just broken a big story. And it wasn’t only until journalists tuned into the program that they recognized the news value of the interview.
“Did you expect that Rudy Giuliani would talk about this payment tonight?” Fox News anchor Shannon Bream asked White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley an hour after Giuliani’s appearance.
“We had no idea of the topic of the show, obviously,” Gidley answered.
As political commentator Jon Ralston put it, “This Rudy self-destruction on live TV reinforces one of my oldest truisms about politics: It’s not the tough interviewers that get you in trouble; it’s when you are with the friendlies (Sean Softballs here) that you screw up because you feel too comfortable.”
This morning, Trump shared a series of tweets trying to explain Giuliani’s comments.