WASHINGTON — Fox News host Sean Hannity exploded on Twitter following reports that the conservative Media Research Center had decided against giving him its William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence.
CNN’s Jake Tapper first reported Friday that sources familiar with the situation said author Christopher Buckley — the son of the late commentator William F. Buckley, for whom the award is named — was upset that the award was set to go to Hannity, a loyal ally of President Donald Trump. The Media Research Center reportedly pulled the award after Christopher Buckley called to disapprove.
Publicly, the center and Hannity are chalking it up to a scheduling conflict.
“MRC awarded Hannity the Buckley award,” Brent Bozell, Media Research Center’s founder and president and William F. Buckley’s nephew, wrote on Twitter. “Hannity subsequently told us he couldn’t make it. We chose not to hand out the award this year.”
CNN reported that Media Research Center’s “leadership discussed ways to allow Hannity to save face by acting as if a scheduling conflict would prevent him from accepting the award.” A source in conservative media told Politico the apparent scheduling conflict was “a coverup.”
A Media Research Center spokesman did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Hannity lashed out Friday on Twitter, calling Tapper “Fake News Jake” and saying that if the “Never Trumpers” at National Review — which William F. Buckley founded in 1955 — or Christopher Buckley “were upset about me receiving the award, they never told me.”
“Now I’m really glad I said ‘No thanks,’” Hannity wrote. “Fact; ‘Awards’ are BS ways to raise $. The only ‘Award’ I care about is serving my audience, the support of my audience, and saving the USA.”
Tapper swung back, pointing out Hannity’s quickness to attack.
To which Hannity responded, “You are a liberal hack and not a journalist.”
Among the conservatives who blasted Media Research Center for its initial decision to give Hannity the award was New York Times columnist Bret Stephens.
“As honors go, neither the award nor the organization bestowing it — the Media Research Center — is particularly noteworthy,” Stephens wrote in a July 6 column. “But sometimes symbolism is more potent than fact.”
“If we have reached the point where rank-and-file conservatives see nothing amiss with giving Hannity an award named for Buckley, then surely there’s a Milton Friedman Prize awaiting Steve Bannon for his insights on free trade. And maybe Sean Spicer can receive the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent for his role in exposing “fake news.” The floor’s the limit. Or, in Hannity’s case, the crawl space beneath it.”
Media Research Center’s 30th Anniversary Gala is scheduled for Sept. 21 in Washington.