A former Fox News guest claimed last week that Sean Hannity had invited her to his hotel — twice — when they appeared together for one of his programs. But after she rebuffed him, she said that she was never asked back on the show.
In an interview with the Pat Campbell Show on Friday, Debbie Schlussel claimed the “awkward” incident began when Hannity invited her to a store where he was signing books. While there, she said Hannity asked her: “Why don’t you come back with me to my hotel?” Schlussel said she responded: “No, I have to get ready for the show.”
Schlussel said Hannity pressed her again to come to his hotel after the show taping, which did not go well. She refused.
“I wasn’t booked on his show again, and he called me and yelled at me,” Schlussel said. “It was made clear to me that I didn’t go back to his hotel with him after. I got a very weird feeling about the whole thing, and I kind of knew I wouldn’t be back on his show.”
She added: “This kind of stuff is all over the place at Fox News and anything that has to do with Sean Hannity.”
The segment was posted Friday to the Pat Campbell podcast page with the title “Debbie Schlussel Accuses Sean Hannity of Sexual Harassment.”
In an interview with LawNewz.com Monday, Schlussel clarified that she doesn’t think that what happened with Hannity amounted to sexual harassment. “Sexual harassment has a special meaning under the law, and I would never accuse him of that,” she told the site. Still, she stood by her description of events, saying, “He tried to get me to go back to the hotel after the show after he and his executive producer Bill Shine treated me horribly.”
Her comments were aired just days after Bill O’Reilly’s ouster by Fox News in the wake of revelations that he and the company had paid out some $13 million to women who accused him of sexual harassment.
Fox News provided a statement to HuffPost from Hannity, who said that Schlussel’s claims were “100 percent false and a complete fabrication.” He called her a “serial harasser who has been lying about me for well over a decade,” and threatened to sue her using a “team of some of the finest and toughest lawyers in the country.”
Hannity also characterized Schlussel’s comments as part of a “coordinated effort afoot to now silence those with conservative views.”
Schlussel, however, is a conservative herself. One sign of her politics was her repeated — and false — claim beginning in 2006 that President Barack Obama was a Muslim, insisting: “Once a Muslim, always a Muslim.”
But Schlussel has also clashed with Hannity, whom she referred to as “Vannity.” In 2007, she accused him of plagiarizing one of her columns. Three years later, she said the Freedom Alliance, a charity linked to Hannity, was involved in questionable practices, which the charity vehemently denied.
“This is not the first time Debbie Schlussel has lied about Sean Hannity,” Fox News stated. A point-by-point refutation of Schlussel’s attacks on the charity was also included.
Fox’s track record on sexual harassment, on the other hand, is abysmal. Before the most recent controversy over O’Reilly, several women had accused former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, which ultimately resulted in millions of dollars in payoffs. Former Fox News host Alisyn Camerota just revealed on Sunday that Ailes made inappropriate sexual comments to her and told her she’d have to meet him in a hotel if she wanted more opportunities at the network.
Over the weekend, Hannity posted a Twitter rant after he was named by The New York Times as one of President Donald Trump’s private advisers. He called the story “total fake news speculation,” then wondered if the Times had found out whom he talks to because perhaps he’s being “surveilled and unmasked by the NSA.”
He then went after Katie Nolan, host of “Garbage Time” on Fox Sports 1, when she tweeted:
Hannity, in turn, admonished Nolan and told her to do some research.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated that Debbie Schlussel was once a Fox News contributor. She was a guest on the network. References to Hannity’s “hotel room” have been amended to “hotel.” This article and its headline have been updated throughout to reflect additional statements made to LawNewz by Schlussel, that she does not consider the behavior she accused Hannity of to be sexual harassment.