A statement from Fox News on Tuesday afternoon contained some stunning news: The No. 1 cable-news outfit doesn’t take its directives from the Erik Wemple Blog. In a post published earlier on Tuesday, we urged Fox News to undertake an investigation of Sean Hannity in light of a court-prompted disclosure that he was a client of Michael Cohen, who is President Trump’s personal lawyer. The revelation, after all, amounts to a capacious conflict of interest for Hannity, though the Fox News anchor was already plenty conflicted via previous actions.

The statement from a Fox News spokesperson:

“While Fox News was unaware of Sean Hannity’s informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support.”

So, they’ve “reviewed the matter”? How thorough was this one-day review? How long was the chat with Hannity?

The balance of power at the network appears stable. Hannity continues to enjoy a scandalous level of autonomy from supervision, though the network itself admits that the guy never disclosed this conflict. The only logical result of the situation will be further radicalization and further line-stepping by Hannity, not to mention his colleagues during Fox News’s prime-time hours. The culture of no consequences has been thoroughly reaffirmed.

In allowing Hannity to do as he pleases, Fox News underestimates itself. If the network’s performance over two decades has proven anything, it’s that Fox News is the brand name for a loyal segment of the U.S. public. Study after study has determined that liberals don’t cotton to a network that caters to their ideological tilt; conservatives do.

The studies have implications for network management: When the former “king of cable news,” Bill O’Reilly, got dethroned amid a sexual harassment crisis, no ratings crisis ensued. Instead, the network plugged in Tucker Carlson, and the audience numbers remained strong. So there’s no need to be cowed by Sean Hannity.

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