Fox News pundit Sean Hannity has been open about his support for Donald Trump during the 2016 race, explaining that because he’s “not a journalist” he can express his candidate preferences openly.
Hannity’s support for Trump has gone beyond fueling rumors that Hillary Clinton is hiding a secret illness and inviting the Republican nominee on air for frequent softball interviews, however. According to to a New York Times report out Monday, the Fox host has for months served as an adviser to Trump, calling him with suggestions on strategy and messaging during critical moments for the campaign.
The Times’ Jim Rutenberg reported that three sources close to the nominee told him they believed Hannity was making a play for a role in a Trump administration, which he denied and said was contractually prohibitive in a phone interview.
Still Hannity said, he couldn’t help but reach out to his “friend” with advice.
“Do I talk to my friend who I’ve known for years and speak my mind? I can’t not speak my mind,’’ he told Rutenberg.
One of Hannity’s boldest moves as a Trump advocate was to fly Newt Gingrich to Indiana by private jet during deliberations over vice presidential picks in the hopes of securing a Trump-Gingrich ticket.
Trump’s close ties to conservative press kingpins has fueled rumors that he plans to create his own media conglomerate if he fails to win the presidency. Vanity Fair reported in June that the Republican nominee sees his large and enthusiastic base as the future audience for a conservative media network.
Fox News honcho Roger Ailes, who left the network amid swirling sexual assault allegations, is now serving as an adviser to the real estate tycoon, and Trump last week hired Breitbart News’ Steve Bannon as his campaign CEO.