A cartoon illustration published by Media Matters for America depicts Sean Hannity sweating under a headline announcing that “more advertisers are dropping” him.
However, Hannity doesn't seem to be perspiring as he publicly revels in the boycott — particularly a decision by Keurig to pull commercials from his Fox News Channel program. Hannity's new favorite pastime is retweeting videos of fans destroying their coffee makers in a show of solidarity. He is offering prizes for the best clips.
Perhaps Hannity would feign confidence even if he were feeling the heat, but his cool-under-pressure image could be more than a facade. Unlike his former colleague Bill O'Reilly — who was fired amid a boycott in April — Hannity knows when to retreat after crossing a line. He is able to defuse a potentially explosive situation before a handful of unhappy advertisers becomes 100 and forces his network to make a tough call.
Hannity has displayed his survival instinct twice in the past six months, most recently when he moved quickly on Thursday to clean up a mess he made earlier in the day on his syndicated radio show. On the radio, Hannity used the word “consensual” to describe alleged encounters between U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and teenage girls in the 1970s and 1980s, when Moore was in his 30s.
Hannity did not make clear in his remarks whether he was talking about some or all of the events, which was problematic because one of Moore's alleged accusers said he had sexual contact with her when she was 14 — too young to legally consent in Alabama.
Instead of angrily denying that he said anything objectionable, Hannity on his TV show hours later said “that one line was absolutely wrong. I misspoke.”
Some Hannity critics who had pounced on his radio comments gave him grace. CNN's Jake Tapper, for example, replaced sharply worded tweets with one in which he said he would “take Hannity at his word.”
Most of Hannity's advertisers seem to have been satisfied, too. Besides Keurig, only four other companies have abandoned his program.
Hannity also beat a hasty retreat in May when he stopped discussing a conspiracy theory about the 2016 shooting death of Democratic National Committee staff member Seth Rich. On the day that Fox News retracted an online report that lent credence to the theory, Hannity defiantly told his radio audience that he “retracted nothing.”
But as he did last week, Hannity changed his tune by the time he went on TV. He said that he had spoken by phone with Rich's brother and that “out of respect for the family's wishes, for now, I am not discussing this matter at this time.”
On the air that night, Hannity also addressed speculation that be might leave Fox News.
“I serve at the pleasure of the Fox News Channel,” he said. “And I am here to do my job every night. I'm under contract, as long as they seem to want me.”
Hannity knew better than to push his luck by continuing to entertain a theory that his network had disavowed, just as he knew better than to try to fight his way out of a controversy about his use of the word “consensual.” Hannity's gut seems to tell him when it is time to be contrite, which makes him less likely to get boycotted off the air than O'Reilly, who is still denying that he said or did anything inappropriate to any woman ever.