Previously, I blogged that Fox News was unhappy after LL Cool J called them on publicizing him as a guest without his permission. Now, it seems Fox News has a similar complaint to his and one of their commentators is in hot water for inappropriately representing Fox News, without the consent or knowledge of the executives.
Sean Hannity agreed to raise funds for the tea party movement by charging attendees, broadcasting his show from the event, and giving all the proceeds to the movement. Somehow, Fox News didn’t know about his plans. (I know. That is hard to believe, but apparently senior executives were kept in the dark.) The very day that the event was supposed to take place, Fox News pulled the plug and Hannity was ordered back to the studio. Then, earlier this week, Rupert Murdoch (the founder, major shareholder, chairman, and managing director of News Corp.– aka Sean Hannity’s boss) admitted that it was inappropriate for the Tea Party to profit from a Fox News show.
While cable news networks have been leaning farther and farther away from non-partisan reporting, actually helping a political group raise funds is still shocking. Hannity is acting as a commentator, not a journalist, but the station itself is still a news network that needs at least an appearance of being non-partisan. If the event had gone on as scheduled, the station would have been considered its sponsor and would have lost its position as a serious news network, capable of competing with CNN and MSNBC.
News networks are a business and Hannity’s actions have threatened the very foundation of the Fox News brand– a brand that is worth millions of dollars. It will be interesting to see if the speculation is true and Hannity will be fired.