Cathy Areu’s Hannity Fiction

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The headline over at Mediaite – no right-wing publication there – was this:

Holes Emerge in Cathy Areu’s Lawsuit Against Fox News Hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity

The story, written by reporter Rudy Takala, says this:

“Inconsistencies are emerging in claims made by Cathy Areu, a once-periodic Fox News guest, that she was harassed by some of the network’s biggest names — including prime time anchor Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. New emails obtained by Mediaite shed further light on the case.

In a lawsuit filed on Monday in the Southern District of New York, Areu claims she was harassed by Carlson, Hannity and other employees of the network, and that she was largely barred from appearing after she declined their advances. In an initial response, the company said the claims were ‘completely false.’”

In sum, Takala reports new e-mails have been unearthed that have “undermined some of her claims.”

One Areu claim about Hannity, in particular, caught my attention. Takala reported:

“In the lawsuit, Areu claims, she was a ‘relatively regular’ guest on Hannity’s prime-time show until March 8, 2018. ‘On that day, Mr. Hannity, on set and in front of the entire studio crew – and completely unsolicited – threw $100 on the set desk,’ the suit claimed. ‘He then began calling out to the men in the room and demanding that someone take Ms. Areu out on a date for drinks at Del Friscos. He repeatedly yelled, ‘who wants to take her on a date?’ ‘Take her on a date to Del Friscos.’”

Areu ‘was completely mortified,’ the lawsuit added, ‘and made clear that she was incredibly uncomfortable with Mr. Hannity’s misogynistic behavior by quietly pleading with one of her friends in the room to accept the money so that the humiliation would end. Thankfully, none of the staff cooperated with Mr. Hannity, even after he repeatedly chided one particular male employee for being ‘afraid to take out a beautiful woman.’”

Why did this particular story catch my attention? Because I personally have been a guest on Hannity many times.  One occasion that I recall vividly was a panel show, an occasional Hannity feature in which a dozen or so panelists, fanned out in three rows as if an audience, comment on the news of the day, with Hannity acting as the host/master of ceremonies. This particular panel included men and women both, some Fox contributors, some not. I had met most of them from various of my own Fox appearances over the years, but there were some new ones I did not know.

And when the show was over? (And, as a matter of fact, here I am that very night after the show with the host, the other guests out of the picture range and chatting with each other and Hannity staff.) Exactly as Areu is saying, Sean, ever the gracious host, urged us to go the very same nearby restaurant – Del Frisco’s – on him. Men and women alike. He urged us on in the manner of a life coach – go out there and spend a little time socializing with each other and get to know one another. No one – no one – took his urgings to spend time together as anything more than a generous host who wants to make sure his guests relax and have a good time.

Jeff Lord Sean Hannity

In fact, in the current seriously bizarre Trump-hating moment, we had all been targeted at some point or another for defending the president. And whether we knew one another or not before the show, the bond between us all was self-evident. So, those of us who had no further commitments that night took up our host’s invitation. His staff took a headcount and flagged the restaurant we were coming. We went – and had a great evening on Sean Hannity, even, as one of Areu’s e-mails now reveals of herself, taking pictures of our drinks to send back to our absent host.

Takala’s report also says this:

“Areu’s lawsuit claimed that she believes the incident resulted in her being barred from future appearances: “After this incident, and Ms. Areu’s failure to ‘play along,’ Ms. Areu was hardly ever, if ever at all, invited back to appear on ‘Hannity’ on Fox News Channel.”

According to Fox News, its records indicate Areu appeared on Hannity a total of nine times between the date of the alleged incident, March 8, 2018, and July 3, 2019. Of that number, Fox said, five appearances took place in the four months directly after the incident. A search by Mediaite confirmed that Areu appeared repeatedly on the show following the alleged incident, both with Hannity and with guest hosts.

The network claimed that on one of those subsequent appearances, Areu thanked Hannity again for the drinks, and he again gave her and the same friend money for another round of drinks.”

Which is to say, Areu’s story, as challenged by documented-in-real-time records of her Hannity appearances, simply doesn’t hold water.

In fact, I have on other occasions personally socialized with Sean Hannity and others – men and women both. And I never – say again never – saw Sean act as other than the gentleman and friend that he in fact is.

As Mediaite also reports, her tales about Tucker Carlson have also been challenged by records of her appearances on Tucker’s show. Notably, she presents the same sort of tale she did with Hannity – imagining some sort of personal invite, and when she refused she was retaliated against by a lack of invites to do Tucker’s show – when in fact the records of her appearances flatly contradict her.

And her e-mails to Howard Kurtz? Suffice to say they do not paint a flattering image of the sender.

On and on this kind of thing goes in this lawsuit. And while I know some of the people named in this lawsuit better than others and know some not at all, one thing is crystal clear. Over and over and over again the simplest of human kindnesses or basic logistics are repeatedly translated by Areu as something they, based on my own repeated Hannity experiences -not to mention life – are flatly not.

Newsflash? Having logged hundreds of hours over the years on cable news, the fact of the matter is that the business itself is necessarily geared to news events. The big news of the moment can shift in a blink of the eye from Topic A to Topic Z. And that, dear reader, is why a guest can disappear from a show and not be re-invited for months. It has zero to do with sex.

To illustrate? On one occasion while at CNN, I was on Anderson Cooper’s show with CNN colleagues, all of us there to discuss the latest politics of the moment. All of a sudden, big news: President Trump had ordered an airstrike against a Syrian airbase. In a blink Anderson went to a commercial break, all of his guests were ushered out of the studio – and we were replaced by a quickly gathered collection of CNN military experts. Well, of course. This is the way the business works.

Think of our quite current situation with the COVID virus. Before it arrived, Fox and its competitors were spending hours on the obvious: the unfolding 2020 presidential election. Primaries, caucuses, campaign debates, the conduct of the media, and so on. Thus come the show-invites to people like me – people with serious political/media experience who know the political/media ropes and can help explain/discuss.

Then – the virus hits. No one wants to listen to a political/media commentator. They want to hear from doctors and scientists. Of course, they do! So….those of us heavy into politics quickly and understandably find our invites vanishing. If you are a cable news network executive or host this is self-evidently logical. As a commentator, Ms. Areu should get it as well. Clearly, she not only does not get it but attributes her lack of invitations to something else altogether.

It isn’t simply foolish to assume that lack of an invite has anything to do with yourself. It is a lack of understanding of how all of these shows work – and must work. To not only assume there is something conspiratorial or wrong with not being asked back for a while to do a show, but ascribing that quite normal cable news trait to punishment for some leering, unfulfilled sexual motive is as wrong and naïve as it is offensive. Not to mention suing somebody because of it.

Simply put? As Mediaite’s Takala says:

“Over the last several days, records of Areu’s appearances on the network and other publicly available information has undermined some of her claims.”

Indeed they have. Without knowing those records existed, I was certain, based on my own personal experience at Fox with Hannity, that there would in fact be “holes” in Areu’s tales. In the world of 21st-century technology, too many e-mails and calendars documenting everything from personal correspondence to appearances on shows are out there.

Now they are made visible for all to see. Revealing Cathy Areu – in her own words and in her own actions.

Not good.

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