Fox News is allowing Sean Hannity to promote the Tea Party Patriots on its airwaves even though the group is financially connected to the conservative host.
Huffington Post's Michael Calderone reported today that Hannity, who also hosts a Premiere Radio Networks program, has been fundraising for Tea Party Patriots (TPP) in emails, and "has also promoted the group's efforts on his Fox News program."
TVNewser reported that in response to Calderone's report, "Fox News tells us Hannity's involvement with the Tea Party group is for his radio show, and has nothing to do with his FNC show or role with the network."
But Fox's response that TPP has "nothing to do" with Fox is disingenuous and a dodge of ethical standards. A Media Matters review found that Hannity has repeatedly done promotional tie-ins for TPP on radio and then promoted or hosted the group on his Fox News program.
For instance, Hannity did radio promos for TPP on July 31 and August 12. He then hosted TPP president Jenny Beth Martin on his Fox program Hannity on August 20, and September 9. Martin was also part of a "special audience edition" of Hannity on August 16. Fox even allowed Hannity to promote TPP's website HannityForSanity.com on August 1.
Calderone reported that "Hannity made a passing reference to the Tea Party Patriots on his Fox News show" on February 19 in which Hannity said "The Tea Party Patriots are partners on my radio show." Calderone added that "was the only time on Fox News that Hannity has described Tea Party Patriots as a 'partner' of his radio program," according to Nexis.
In addition to his TPP email this week, Hannity sent an email on behalf of TPP on September 6 urging readers to "sign the National Petition to Exempt America from Obamacare right now. It's the very best way to help get rid of this horrible law before it goes into effect on October 1st." Hannity sent a TPP fundraising email in mid-December, writing that "If you've heard my radio show at all in the past few months, then you've probably heard me talk about the great Americans at Tea Party Patriots ... So please, make your monthly commitment right away."
Though it's not clear how much Hannity is receiving for his Tea Party Patriots promotions -- representatives for Martin, TPP, and Hannity didn't respond to comment requests from Calderone -- Hannity received big money for prior promotions for another conservative group.
Politico reported in 2011 that the Heritage Foundation paid $1.3 million to Hannity's program for "promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs - praising or sometimes defending the groups, while urging listeners to donate - often woven seamlessly into programming in ways that do not seem like paid advertising."
Fox News previously forced Hannity to cancel a taping of a 2010 Fox News show at a Cincinnati Tea Party event because it charged admission and had "all proceeds" benefiting the organization. At the time Fox portrayed themselves to media as "furious" with Hannity.
Here are four recent examples of Hannity's radio promotional tie-ins:
Hannity Tea Party Patriots Promotion, 2/17/14. Hannity told his listeners to "take action" against the IRS and its alleged targeting of conservative groups by going to TPP's website PatriotsAnniversary.com.
Hannity Tea Party Patriots Promotion, 1/20/14. Hannity told listeners to show "leftists" that conservatives won't be intimidated by visiting TeaPartyPatriots.org and joining the group because "we need you."
Hannity Tea Party Patriots Promotion, 8/12/13. Hannity integrated a promotion for The Tea Party Patriots into his program while criticizing former IRS official Lois Lerner and the Obama administration. Hannity said he's supporting the Tea Party Patriots and urged listeners to go to HannityForSanity.com.
Hannity Tea Party Patriots Promotion, 7/31/13. Hannity claimed that the IRS is intimidating tea partiers and his "friends" at the Tea Party Patriots are creating TV ads but they need help to get them aired. Hannity then directed listeners to HannityForSanity.com to donate "whatever you can afford" so "we" can get those ads up.