A former Fox News guest says Sean Hannity made her feel “uncomfortable” by repeatedly asking her to his hotel while on assignment more than a decade ago, and said she stopped appearing on the host’s show soon after refusing to meet him.
But Debbie Schlussel said Monday she doesn’t believe that Hannity’s behavior constituted sexual harassment, clarifying remarks she made last week on an Oklahoma radio show.
Hannity responded to Friday’s radio interview with KFAQ by saying Schlussel’s account is “100% false and a complete fabrication.”
KFAQ host Pat Campbell asked Schlussel if anyone at Fox News ever made her “uncomfortable” or made “sexual advances.” She responded by saying she declined Hannity’s repeated requests to come to his hotel with him while he was in Detroit for a broadcast of his show more than a decade ago. She said it was made clear to her after the program that she “wouldn’t be back on his show.” She says she made two more appearances on Fox after that, one on Hannity’s show.
Schlussel appeared on a “Hannity & Colmes” broadcast from Detroit in Sept. 2002. She appeared on the show again eight months later in May 2003.
She told The Associated Press on Monday that her description of the Detroit incident was true, but that the behavior didn’t rise to sexual harassment. She says she believes she was “blackballed” from the channel by Hannity.
Fox News deferred to Hannity’s statement when asked for comment.
In his statement, Hannity called Schlussel a “serial harasser who has been lying about me for well over a decade.”
Schlussel’s recent remarks came amid Bill O’Reilly’s recent ouster from Fox News following renewed scrutiny over allegations of sexual harassment.
Fox News released a statement Wednesday saying O’Reilly was departing the network effective “immediately.”
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” the company said in a statement.
Later that day, O’Reilly continued to deny the allegations.
“It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” he said. “But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”
Last year, former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes resigned from his influential post less than a month after he was sued for sexual harassment by former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson.