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Has Fox News Gone Soft? Hannity Staff Remains Unpunished

After Fox News was forced to pull the plug on Sean Hannity‘s tax day tea party show because organizers were charging for tickets, it sounded like serious repercussions were on the horizon for the show’s staff.

But according to multiple reports, no action has been taken. Has the notoriously no-nonsense network gone soft?

Roger Ailes was said to be personally furious about the perception FNC was endorsing the tea party that Hannity was attending, and one report pointed to former Hannity producer and current SVP at Fox News Bill Shine as protecting his buddy Hannity. But we hear John Finley, Hannity’s current Executive Producer, is also under Shine’s shield, which could be why no punishment has been handed down for the screw-up. (Staffers called Finley Shine’s “toady” – a phrase used to describe Shine and Hannity’s relationship by Debbie Schlussel.)

It was only a few months ago when FNC management, annoyed by mistakes, instituted a zero tolerance policy. This came about because of something else that happened during Hannity’s hour – playing incorrect crowd footage that made it look like a conservative rally was larger than it actually was. This came two months after a producer was punished for pumping up a 9/12 rally crowd.

Hannity is a big star at Fox News, and someone who has been with the network since the year Fox News launched. He may not personally be held responsible here, but there is likely someone on his staff who knew about the tickets being sold – and knew it wouldn’t sit well with corporate. With no punishment handed down, this looks like a case of Fox News sweeping the incident under the rug.

With MSNBC kicking anchors off the air for far less, FNC’s next move takes on greater significance.

An FNC spokesperson this morning wouldn’t elaborate beyond the comment made to New York magazine last week about not discussing internal matters any further.

• Hannity is out sick from his TV/radio show today. He tweeted:

Hey everyone- I’m sorry but I won’t be doing radio or tv today. Not feeling well and my wife and older sisters are making me go to the doc.

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