Fox News host Sean Hannity promised Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, that he would push an Election Day get-out-the-vote message to his radio show listeners, according to communications within a cache of more than 2,000 text messages obtained by CNN.
Meadows then asked for Hannity’s help with messaging, and offered him a slogan to convey to the host’s millions of radio show listeners. “Stress every vote matters,” Meadows wrote back. “Get out and vote. On radio.”
Hannity responded in the affirmative, writing back, “Yes sir. On it,” before adding, “any place in particular we need a push.”
When Meadows suggested Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada, Hannity replied, “Got it. Everywhere.” (Trump won North Carolina but lost the other three states to President Biden.)
In past years, Fox News has attempted to set some boundaries for its on-air personalities: Even opinion hosts, who could be open about their ideological views, were nonetheless expected to stop short of publicly wading into political contests.
While Hannity has long been an outspoken supporter of Trump during his presidential campaigns and presidency, the messages — which had been turned over by Meadows to the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 — suggest that Hannity saw himself as part of the broader pro-Trump campaign apparatus on Election Day, offering up his radio show audience to help boost Trump’s chances. (CNN wrote that Hannity was one of Meadows’ most frequent pen pals.)
Representatives for Fox News did not respond to a request for comment about the text messages on Monday, and the host has not yet mentioned the messages on his daily radio show, as of early Monday night.
The network had previously put some limits on Hannity’s participation in pro-Trump events and lectured him when he crossed the line. When Hannity and fellow Fox host Jeanine Pirro appeared onstage with Trump at a campaign rally in November 2018, the network called it “an unfortunate distraction [that] has been addressed.” In September 2016, after Hannity appeared in a pro-Trump video, Fox News said that it was not aware of his participation and that “he will not be doing anything along these lines for the remainder of the election season.”
Hannity also “had a role in writing a Trump campaign ad in the 2020 election,” according to a book written by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender, though Hannity denied any participation. In his denial, he acknowledged that “the world knows that Sean Hannity supports Donald Trump. But my involvement specifically in the campaign — no, I was not involved that much.”
Since Trump left the White House, he has appeared several times on Hannity’s Fox show, as have members of Trump’s family and former members of his administration.
In a December hearing of the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) read aloud messages sent separately to Meadows by Hannity and fellow Fox hosts Brian Kilmeade and Laura Ingraham urging action be taken to calm the rioters. Hannity asked Meadows if Trump could “make a statement” and “ask people to leave the Capitol.”
While Hannity received some praise from his usual critics for seemingly taking the Capitol insurrection seriously, he responded by attacking Cheney and arguing that his privacy had been violated. “Why would they release this, except they’re trying to make a point?” Hannity asked on his radio show.
CNN also published Hannity’s Jan. 19 text message to Meadows, in which he shared a link to a video of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in which he charged that Trump “provoked” the Jan. 6 rioters. “Well this is as bad as this can get,” Hannity wrote.