Chuck Todd lashes out at Fox, defends wife in radio interview

NBC "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd slammed Fox News on Friday for not taking action against Sean Hannity after it was revealed the conservative opinion host was a client of President TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE's personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

The commentary from Todd came during a contentious back-and-forth interview with WABC-770 AM morning hosts Sid Rosenberg and Bernard McGuirk.

ADVERTISEMENT

The duo challenged Todd on what they saw as a conflict of interest regarding his wife's past consultant work with Democrats, including former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence More Dems come out in public opposition to Kavanaugh MORE (D-Va.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersProtecting democracy requires action from all of us Kavanaugh hires attorney amid sexual assault allegations: report Amazon probes allegations of employees leaking data for bribes: report MORE (I-Vt.), who ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

Todd first targeted Hannity for going "heavy personal" on him when Hannity criticized him on the air.

"Sean and I, I thought, had a very nice, cordial, personal relationship," Todd told Rosenberg and McGuirk. "It’s always bothered me he has gone personal at me. I have never gone personal at him. And he’s gone heavy personal at me in ways that I thought were unprofessional. That’s fine. That’s his decision to do that."

Todd was referring to a column titled "The Utter Hypocrisy of Chuck Todd" written on Hannity's website, Hannity.com, by former CNN contributor Jeffrey Lord that charged Todd with having a conflict of interest due to his wife's consulting work. 

"When [Lord] pointed out that your wife donated to Tim Kaine, do you consider that personal?" asked McGuirk.

"Again, yes I do, because he’s bringing my wife into this," replied Todd. "What is her business — what is it his business what she does? I don’t control her political opinions and she doesn’t control mine. I really — just think about that: You’re trying to sully me because my wife is an individual thinker in her life?"

He continued by saying he doesn't take Hannity's "criticism that seriously."

My point is that if you look at how Sean Hannity has treated me over the last four or five years publically, then you’ll see why I just don’t take his criticism that seriously," Todd said.

Rosenberg said the issue stems from animus over President Trump.

"This goes back to the rancor from a couple days ago ... this all goes back to Donald Trump," Rosenberg argued. "Everyone needs to grow up a bit and let the guy govern."

"I think it’s a two way street though," responded Todd.

"He needs to respect the fact that he’s got to be able to handle the tiniest bit of criticism. Look, I know the president very well. You guys know him very well. I’ve spent a lot of time with him over the last seven years. To me, his tragic flaw as a politician is that he can’t hide the fact that he can’t handle criticism."  

Rosenberg agreed, but added a caveat.

"I agree with you. But here’s the problem Chuck, it’s not 'a little bit of criticism.' Its 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Rosenberg said.

Later in the interview, McGuirk mocked Todd's defense.

"Your wife did work for the Democrats and is a liberal activist, but whatever!" McGuirk said to Todd.

"Bernie, you know why people know this? It’s been disclosed," Todd said. "Everything about my wife and her work and her relationship to me — it’s all on the internet because I’ve publicly said something at various times when I felt that it was necessary."

"The difference is Sean Hannity chose not to talk about his professional relationship with Michael Cohen until publicly forced to in the courtroom. That’s all. That’s the difference. So don’t lash out at me because Hannity did something wrong."

The comments from Todd come two days after he argued on his MSNBC program "Meet the Press Daily" that Hannity should have been reprimanded by the network for what he sees as a conflict of interest in the conservative host not disclosing his relationship with Cohen.

Cohen's office, hotel room and house were raided on April 6, with the FBI seizing emails, tax documents and records related to his $130,000 payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels.

Hannity downplayed the relationship with Cohen on radio, television and social media after the news broke on Monday by stating Cohen had never represented him “in any matter.”

“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter,” Hannity tweeted to his 3.6 million followers. “I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees.”

“I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third-party,” he added in a subsequent tweet.

Fox News issued a statement stating it was "surprised" by the allegation but that Hannity will continue to have the network's "full support."

"While Fox News was unaware of Sean Hannity's informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support," the network said Tuesday.