It’s been a particularly bad few days for Fox News. On Wednesday, the network was forced to let go of its biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, following revelations about the many, many sexual harassment claims against him. Since then, former Fox News anchor Alisyn Camerota spoke up about being harassed by ex-CEO Roger Ailes (who resigned in July after his own predatory history came to light) and New York’s Gabe Sherman reported that seven black Fox News employees planned to join three of their colleagues in suing the network for discrimination that included the use of racist slurs and forced “arm-wrestling matches” between black and white employees. And on Sunday, conservative pundit Debbie Schlussel said that gun-wielding Trump confidante Sean Hannity invited her back to his hotel when she appeared on his Fox News show in the early 2000s.
Schlussel described the interaction in an interview with Oklahoma radio host Pat Campbell. “[Hannity] had some event at a bookstore where he signed his book for people standing in line. He asked me to come meet him at this book signing. So, I met him there and it was very awkward. He had me up there with him while he signed books and I felt very weird. These people don’t know me and they didn’t come for me to sign their books,” she said. “Then I left to get ready for the show, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come back with me to my hotel?’ and I said no, I have to get ready for the show.”
Schlussel said that as she and Hannity were preparing to go on the air, he told her that they would “double-team” the show’s other guest, which Schlussel thought was “a weird phrase to use.” She continued: “And then, every time I tried to open my mouth and say something, they yelled at me and said obey your host, you can’t say anything or else we’re gonna shut off your microphone.” Schlussel said that after the show Hannity again asked her to come to his hotel. She rejected the offer.
Schlussel said that Hannity then called her on the phone. “[He] yelled at me and it was made clear to me that I didn’t go back to his hotel with him. And I got a very weird feeling about the whole thing, and I kind of knew I wouldn’t be back on his show,” she said. “I wasn’t booked on a show again.”
Schlussel clarified her claims Monday. She did not deny that the incident took place, but said she did not consider Hannity’s alleged overtures sexual harassment. “Sexual harassment has a special meaning under the law, and I would never accuse him of that,” she told LawNewz.
“I never thought I was sexually harassed by Sean Hannity, I thought he was weird and creepy not someone I liked,” she added.
In a statement sent to the New York Daily News, Hannity called the allegations “100% false and a complete fabrication.” He went on to claim that Schlussel had “a history of making provably false statements against me” (she’s previously written that Hannity’s charity misused money and accused him of plagiarizing her work) and threatened to sue her.
During her interview, Schlussel alluded to other instances of “not-above-board” behavior by Hannity and his male co-workers. She added: “This kind of stuff is all over the place at Fox News,” which, at this point, is pretty clear.
This post has been updated throughout.