Sean Hannity Defends GOP Senate Candidate Roy Moore And Earns A Stiff Response From Jake Tapper

The defense of GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore following the release of a Washington Post report alleging he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl seems daunting, but it has begun. Several of Moore’s supporters are beginning to speak out for the already controversial candidate, with some even using Nativity story to give Moore the benefit of the doubt:

But the most prominent defender following the release of the extensive WaPo report has been Sean Hannity, using his radio show and Fox News spot to craft a defense of the former judge with the support of those at Fox News. On his radio show and in the clip above, Hannity spoke out in support of Moore and brought into question the allegations against him, calling out the existence of false accusations and saying Moore’s relationships were consensual:

HANNITY: There are false allegations made. You know, I can tell you another thing that is a common practice, people make a allegation at, for example, big corporations. Big corporations, they make a business decision, “Alright, if I pay $200,000, this goes away, okay, you’re out of here, we’re done with you, it’s all over,” even though they don’t believe it happened.

But then they’re going to have somebody that comes in and says “This is going to be the cost of litigating this,” and the person — the other — the accuser’s attorney is going to work pro bono, and that means “for free,” and they’re going to see this to the ends of the earth unless they can get out, and blah blah blah blah. That happens too, and other people just do — do some people do it for political reasons?

How do you possibly tell, know the truth, except — okay, so, the two other girls were older in this case. He was apparently, like, 32, and he dated — one girl was 18, one girl was 17, they never said he did — there was no sexual — there was kissing involved, and then they’re saying this one encounter with a 14 year old —

MCLAUGHLIN: And it was consensual —

HANNITY: And consensual, that’s true. And there’s, you know — I just — I don’t know how you find out the truth.

The quote led to plenty of confusion online for Hannity, with many believing that the Fox News host was claiming that all of the relationships, including the one with the 14-year-old minor, were consensual. It was enough for many to to call Hannity out before he clarified his statements and the full segment arrived online, including CNN’s Jake Tapper.

In a now-deleted exchange between the two cable news personalities, Tapper fact checked Hannity’s apparent claim that the 14-year-old consented and earned a heated response from the Fox News host calling Tapper “FAKE NEWS” and a “LAZY HACK.” Once it was cleared up, both men seemed to make up and come to an understanding:

That said, many others have already run with the comments and are heavily criticizing Hannity. It led to him addressing and apologizing for the comments on his show, but not before he did manage to get another slight against Tapper:

“One of the reasons I have been right and so many of my bratty friends in the media that are overpaid and lazy like fake Jake Tapper is they rush to judgement — I don’t,” Hannity said on-air. “Jake, listen to the whole two hours of my radio show tonight. It’s one of the reasons we have been more right than wrong.”

The timing of all of the apologizing and feuding all blends close together, so it is safe to say that the disagreement between Hannity and Tapper is finished. To drive that home, Hannity deleted most of his tweets responding to Tapper and offered more clarity.

All that said, Hannity did spend most of his show addressing the allegations against Moore and defending him. While his comments on the air were mistaken for something far worse, Hannity is one of the few to clearly take a stand for Moore at the moment while many prominent Republicans are calling for the candidate to step away if the allegations are true.

UPDATE: Fox News Channel’s Hannity has issued a statement:

“As I said on TV tonight, I apologize when I misspoke and was not totally clear earlier today. It’s really sad when the lazy media in this country cuts and pastes a deceptive and out of context comment by a Soros funded radical left-wing group that has purposefully taken me out of context for years. My comments on the topic of Judge Moore were clear and unambiguous both on radio and on TV, if people would do their own research and reporting. People need to listen to the totality of my remarks if they care about the truth. I interview guests of all points of view, but I speak for myself.”

(Via Fox News / Media Matters)