"It was just incredibly creepy and inappropriate," Debbie Schlussel said Monday of her encounters with the conservative Fox News host more than 10 years ago. "That's how he is."
She revealed the Detroit claims Friday on the Tulsa, Okla.-based Pat Campbell radio show, which she said was an impromptu response during a weekly appearance. Former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was fired last week after multiple allegations of sexual harassment, and Campbell asked Schlussel whether she'd been made to feel uncomfortable or encountered sexual advances in the times she'd appeared on the cable news channel.
"Well, only by Sean Hannity, not by Bill O'Reilly," she replied. She clarified to the Free Press that she was responding to the "uncomfortable" part of the question, that it's "up to God" to decide whether there was a sexual advance.
She said that Hannity was in metro Detroit for a show, and that he'd asked her to go back to his hotel during a book signing beforehand and again after the show was finished. Both times, she declined, she said.
"And then after that, I wasn't booked on his show again. And he called me and yelled at me and ... it was made clear to me that I didn't go back to his hotel," she said on the radio show. "And I got a very weird feeling about the whole thing, and I kind of knew I wouldn't be back on his show."
Hannity, 55, didn't immediately respond to a Free Press request for comment. In a statement he sent to Deadline Detroit, Hannity said Schlussel's comments are "100% false and a complete fabrication," and that she's a "serial harasser."
Schlussel, 48, said Monday that she hasn't had contact with Hannity in years, and that previous contacts were "always at his behest," and that if he sues her, she'll file a counter-suit. She said that before the metro Detroit incident, she'd had an uncomfortable encounter with Hannity when she was in New York for his radio show.
"He got mad at me that I was briefly a redhead," Schlussel said. "He was arguing with me about my pants size, ... I said they were size 2, and he said, no, they were a 4."
Since Friday, she said she has received a number of threats from "a lot of crazy fans."
Schlussel is a blogger, a regular guest on several radio shows and a film critic on the "Larry the Cable Guy" show on Sirius XM.
Schlussel said that before the Detroit incident, Hannity had told her he wanted her to be a guest on his show regularly, about twice per month. But she had perhaps one more appearance after the incident, and she was later told she was "blackballed" by him and a producer, she said.
|Debbie Schlussel stands outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Detroit on Jan. 10, 2011. (Photo: Patricia Beck, Detroit Free Press)|
Sean Hannity Accused of Inviting Fox News Guest to His Hotel Room
Sean Hannity is the latest Fox News personality facing allegations of inappropriate behavior after he was accused of propositioning a guest on his show.
During a Friday interview with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based radio host Pat Campbell, former Fox News guest Debbie Schlussel accused Hannity of inviting her to his hotel room before and after a debate with a pro-Palestinian guest in Detroit. Schlussel said she rejected Hannity’s alleged advances and that she was never invited on his show again.
Schlussel and Hannity were scheduled to speak together at the Detroit show, Schlussel said. But before the show, Hannity allegedly invited her to an event at a nearby bookstore. The Daily Beast was not able to confirm whether the pair ever spoke at such a show.
“He had some event at a bookstore where he signed his book for people standing in line. He asked me to come meet him at this book signing,” Schlussel said on Campbell’s show. “So I met him there and it was very awkward. He had me up there with him while he signed books and I felt very weird. These people don’t know me and they didn’t come for me to sign their books. Then I left to get ready for the show, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come back with me to my hotel?’ and I said no, I have to get ready for the show.”
Shortly before the show, Hannity allegedly told Schlussel they would team up against another panelist. But Schlussel told Campbell that the move was a “head-fake” against her.
“Sean came up to me and said we’re gonna double-team (which was a weird phrase to use) this Palestinian guy that I was up against on the show,” Schlussel said. “And then every time I tried to open my mouth and say something, they yelled at me and said obey your host, you can’t say anything or else we’re gonna shut off your microphone.”
After the show, Schlussel claims Hannity made another advance on her. “My dad and my brother were there in the green room,” Schlussel said, claiming that Hannity “tried to get me to go back with him to the hotel after the show.”
Schlussel claimed she rejected the offer a second time, and was not invited on any future Hannity programs.
“After that, I wasn’t booked on his show again. And he called me and yelled at me,” Schlussel said. “I got a very weird feeling about the whole thing, and I kind of knew I wouldn’t be back on his show.”
After her comments to Talk 1170 Radio received widespread media attention, Schlussel told Law Newz that she would not characterize Hannity's behavior as sexual harassment. “I would never accuse him of that. Sexual harassment has a special meaning under the law,” she said.
She did, however, confirm that Hannity had propositioned her. “I never thought I was sexually harassed by Sean Hannity, I thought he was weird and creepy,” she said.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Hannity denied Schlussel’s allegations and accused her of seeking attention.
“LET ME BE CLEAR THE COMMENTS ABOUT ME ON A RADIO SHOW THIS WEEK by this individual ARE 100 percent false and a complete fabrication,” Hannity wrote. “This individual is a serial harasser who has been lying about me for well over a decade. The individual has a history of making provably false statements against me in an effort to slander, smear and besmirch my reputation.”
“The individual has not just slandered me over the years but many people who this individual disagrees with,” Hannity wrote. “This individual desperately seeks attention by any means necessary, including making unfounded personal attacks and using indefensible and outrageous political rhetoric.”
He went on to threaten legal action against Schlussel.
“My patience with this individual is over. I have retained a team of some of the finest and toughest lawyers in the country who are now in the process of laying out the legal course of action we will be taking against this individual. In this fiercely divided and vindictive political climate I will no longer allow slander and lies about me to go unchallenged, as I see a coordinated effort afoot to now silence those with conservative views. I will fight every single lie about me by all legal means available to me as an American.”
Hannity and Schlussel have a history of clashing, after she wrote a 2010 blog post accusing him of running a scam charity for military families. Schlussel alleged that less than 4 percent of the revenue from Hannity’s “Freedom Concerts” went to U.S. troops and their families, and that most of the concerts’ earnings went to lavish expenses. Hannity and his colleagues denied the allegations.
In 2007, Schlussel wrote a blog post accusing Hannity of “deliberately ripping off” an anti-Muslim column she wrote in the New York Post.
“That’s Sean Hannity for you,” she wrote in the 2007 post. “This is not the first time he’s done this to me, just the latest.”
Debbie Schlussel walks back sexual harassment claim against Sean Hannity: Now only says “he was weird and creepy”
Conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel is now clarifying that she is not accusing Fox News host Sean Hannity of sexual harassment, but rather of simply being “weird and creepy.”
Although she gave an explosive interview on Friday in which she made serious charges against the Fox News host — claiming that he tried to persuade her to have a sexual encounter with him while he was on a book tour in Detroit — Schlussel told Law Newz in an interview on Monday that she did not believe the incident qualified as sexual harassment.
“I never thought I was sexually harassed by Sean Hannity, I thought he was weird and creepy, not someone I liked,” Schlussel said.
“Sexual harassment has a special meaning under the law, and I would never accuse him of that,” she added.
Hannity has threatened to sue Schlussel as a result of her claims, a response that Schlussel told LawNews was “laughable,” adding that she may countersue Hannity for statements he made in response to her, including calling her a “serial harasser.”
In his statement, Hannity said that Schlussel “has a history of making provably false statements against me in an effort to slander, smear and besmirch my reputation. The individual has not just slandered me over the years but many people who this individual disagrees with.”
As Schlussel told LawNews, “It’s defamatory. Everything I said was true, and truth is an absolute bar to defamation. He on the other hand has a murky record on truth.”
Debbie Schlussel walks back sexual harassment claim against Sean Hannity: Now only says "he was weird and creepy"