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Media Matters' Angelo Carusone: Sean Hannity May Have Hired Michael Cohen to Attack Me

Angelo Carusone

Carusone claims Hannity wasn't using Donald Trump's scandal-plagued "fixer" to pay off an affair.

Michael Cohen -- Donald Trump's personal attorney and "fixer" -- is currently under federal investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations, and was forced on Monday to reveal his client list, which included Fox News personality Sean Hannity. Angelo Carusone, president of progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America, believes Hannity sought Cohen's legal advice in an attempt to attack him.

"Last May, Hannity had said repeatedly that he had launched an investigation into me personally and he was teasing the results of that on his radio program every so often," Carusone tells The Advocate. "One thing that lined up is that Hannity solicited the legal support of Michael Cohen in response to advertising loss he was experiencing last year when there was a campaign that I was working on." Carusone successfully urged several companies to pull advertising from Hannity's show after the conservative talking head doubted and denigrated the women who accused failed Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual predation.

"I have no evidence. But I do have evidence that Hannity claimed he was doing this investigation; repeatedly talked about the fact he had gotten information from my high school teachers, which would be pretty ridiculous, and that he was going to release all this stuff," Carusone says. "And then he launched a website that basically characterized me as being anti-Semitic, antigay, and racist."

The right-wing website,, which Carusone believes Hannity owns or at least controls, is still up. "I am gay," Carusone says, "My husband of 14 years is Jewish. So both of those claims are outrageous."

Despite Cohen's past jobs of paying off women who allege affairs with powerful men, Carusone is convinced Cohen was not helping Hannity cover up an alleged affair: "I don't buy the idea he would use Michael Cohen to cover up sexual misconduct. I think he would have hired a real law firm."

"Hannity would have hired a more professional, polished law firm to engage in that kind of representation because that is a very thorny area of law," Carusone asserts, "whereas Michael Cohen is not really a practicing attorney. He is really more of somebody that does disreputable work that would be hiring private investigators trying to dig up dirt on people and launch harassing campaigns. You do that through a law firm because they can help companies through proxy kind of hide your money so it's not you offering or paying for those things."

As the leader of Media Matters, a group that monitors and corrects misinformation in American media, Carusone believes Hannity's lack of transparency when reporting on Cohen speaks to more than just Hannity's questionable ethics.

"It really reinforces the fact that Fox News does not really do journalism," Carusone says.

Hannity shares another lawyer with Trump -- Jay Sekulow, who is on Trump's Russia legal team. "He interviewed Jay Sekulow dozens of times both on television and radio and almost never discloses the fact that Sean Hannity has also retained Jay Sekulow as an attorney," Carusone says.

With such ardent fans, some believe that even if Hannity had disclosed his connection to Cohen, his audience wouldn't care.

"It just reinforces the kind of approach Sean brings to the table, which is never-ending lies," Carusone says. "Even if he was up front about the conflict of interest, you think that they would care? I don't think so."

Carusone even thinks being transparent would have helped the commentator's argument: "If Sean Hannity indicated that he had personal and private documents and potentially information in that office, I think it could have made his story and his reaction to the raid all the more powerful. Why lie or by omission that? Why not indicate his interest especially if your fans aren't going to care?

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