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Fox's Sean Hannity said on Wednesday that despite the loss of some advertisers, he isn't under pressure by Fox News management to back off a story involving baseless conspiracy rumors about the murder of Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich.
“I did it out of my own heart,” Hannity said in an interview with HuffPost. “Nobody tells me what to say on my show. They never have and, frankly, they never will."
"I’m not that type of person you can say, ‘Go on air and say this.’ That’s been the beauty of Fox News all these years," he continued. "They leave me alone.”
The 55-year-old conservative and staunch supporter of President Trump also called a Media Matters of America decision to post a list of his Fox program's advertisers a "kill shot" in an attempt to take him out.
“There’s nothing that I did, nothing that I said, except they don’t like my position politically,” he said. “They’ll try to ratchet up the intensity of their rationale. It does not justify an attempt to get me fired. And that’s what this is. This is an attempt to take me out. This is a kill shot.”
Hannity lost four advertisers on Wednesday. Cars.com announced that it would immediately pull all advertisements from Hannity's 10 p.m. show, the announcement coming a day after the Fox host said he would stop discussing the story of Rich "for now."
"The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn't mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose, the content," Cars.com said in a statement reported by BuzzFeed. "In this case, we've been watching closely and have recently made the decision to pull our advertising from Hannity."
At-home exercise company Peloton followed suit hours later.
Leesa Sleep, an online mattress retailer, and Casper, another online mattress retailer, also pulled their ads from the program.
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone told HuffPost that unlike his organization's effort to boycott advertisers of now-former Fox host Bill O'Reilly amid sexual harassment allegations, posting the list on his outlet isn’t asking advertisers to boycott Hannity's program.
Right-wing news outlets have sought to link — without evidence — the 27-year-old Rich’s death to Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty 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 program on Wednesday.
The host changed the subject, instead continuing his criticism of media outlets for covering the investigation of Trump's campaign's alleged links to Russia. Members of Trump's campaign allegedly colluded to influence the outcome of the presidential election. Hannity called the investigation of the allegations hypocritical since no evidence has linked the two.
Later in his 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 of 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."
— This report was updated at 9:10 p.m.