Fox's Sean Hannity addressed the growing controversy around his continued coverage of the 2016 killing of Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich following massive backlash for sharing conspiracy theories about his death.
Right-wing news outlets have sought to link — without evidence — the 27-year-old’s death to Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe real reason Biden is going to the COP26 climate summit Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump I voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 MORE's presidential campaign and the WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from her campaign and the DNC.
"Out of respect for the family's wishes for now, I am not discussing this matter at this time," Hannity said near the top of his 10 p.m. ET program.
The host changed the subject, instead continuing his criticism of media outlets for covering the investigation of President Trump's campaign's links to Russia in possibly colluding to influence the outcome of the presidential election, calling it hypocritical since no evidence has linked the two.
Later in the opening monologue, Hannity appeared to indicate that he may visit the Rich story again "at the proper time."
"Please do not interpret what I'm saying tonight to mean anything," he said. "Don't read into this. I promise you, I am not going to stop doing my job. To the extent to my ability, I am not going to stop trying to find the truth."
"That effort is not stopping in any way, shape, matter and form," he continued. "I am continuing the work I promised to do for you. And at the proper time, we shall continue and talk a lot more."
A spokesman for the Rich family said in a statement that they were grateful for Hannity for "respecting their wishes."
"The Rich family thanks Sean Hannity for respecting their wishes by not giving a venue to conspiracy theorists which would only prolong the pain and anguish they have felt over the past week, and many months since Seth's murder," the spokesman said. "We hope that Mr. Hannity will join Fox News in their rededicated commitment to editorial integrity and allow law enforcement to investigate this tragedy."
The 55-year-old host also addressed his job status at Fox News, which he has been a part of since its inception in 1996.
"As for my job here at the Fox News Channel, there is an effort now abound to silence me. Media Matters is now attacking my advertising base," he explained. "That is what we have called on this program 'liberal fascim,' attack, boycott, all in an effort to silence conservatives."
Hannity's statement comes after he was the subject of criticism for covering Rich.
Media Matters for America posted a link to a list of Hannity's advertisers in a tweet to its nearly 300,000 followers earlier this week.
The group targeted former Fox host Bill O'Reilly's advertisers amid sexual harassment allegations, helping lead to his ouster last month after more than 50 companies pulled their ads from his program.
"I serve at the pleasure of the Fox News Channel," Hannity concluded. "And I am here to do my job every night — I'm under contract — as long as they seem to want me."
Hannity also shared on Tuesday night that he was in contact with Rich's brother, Aaron Rich, and that the two shared "heartfelt letters" regarding the situation.
"I got a very heartfelt note. I also sent them a heartfelt note back. I reached out personally to Seth's brother, Aaron," he said.
"I expressed my condolences out over how hard, how difficult this has been for him and his family. And as I told Aaron, my heart, my soul, my prayers, everything, goes out to them in this very difficult time."
Fox News on Tuesday retracted a story regarding Rich’s death following backlash that it perpetuated conspiracy theories.
"On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich," the retraction reads. "The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.”
The family of Rich wrote a letter to Hannity's executive producer urging the prime-time program to stop pushing the conspiracy theory.
“Think about how you would feel losing a son or brother. And while dealing with this, you had baseless accusations of your lost family member being part of a vast conspiracy," Aaron Rich wrote in the letter, which was provided to CNN.