NEW YORK — After Fox News Channel called Sean Hannity's appearance at a Trump rally on Monday an "unfortunate distraction," a further distraction was avoided on election night.
Hannity made no appearance on Fox's midterms coverage, even though the network had previously announced that its prime-time opinion hosts Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham would all be part of it. Both Carlson and Ingraham did appear.
When Hannity and Fox colleague Jeanine Pirro were called to the stage and talked during President Trump's final rally before the elections in Missouri, it was an embarrassment to the network. Fox said on Tuesday that it did not condone such campaign appearances, and called it a distraction from the work of its journalists covering the election. Fox would not discuss whether Hannity or Pirro faced any punishment.
So when Hannity was a no-show on Tuesday night, it led to speculation that the network's most popular personality was absent because of the network's displeasure with the rally appearance.
A Fox spokeswoman would not discuss that on Wednesday, or explain why Hannity did not appear on election night when the network had announced, via an Oct. 29 news release, that he would. She did point to recent Hannity statements that he had other plans that night.
"I will be watching you on election night," Hannity told Fox's Bill Hemmer on the air last week. "I will be home drinking heavily. Either celebrating or in misery, one or the other."
On his radio show Tuesday, Hannity said that he doesn't work for Fox on election nights "because I am so neurotic." He said he watches for returns on multiple televisions, phones and computers. "I think in 2016 I didn't go to bed until 8 or 9 in the morning the next day," he said.
Hannity did find the time on election night 2016, when Trump scored his surprise victory over Hillary Clinton, to give a lengthy phone interview as part of Fox's coverage.
Pirro was never scheduled to work on election night.