By Jennifer Davis
Fox News host Sean Hannity was sacked from a radio job after calling AIDS a ‘gay disease’. Hannity is a host on right-wing news network Fox News, and has become a fixture on the channel and a close ally of President Trump.
But the host is under the microscope this week after allegations about extreme homophobia in his early broadcasting work.
The Washington Post has unveiled tapes of Hannity from his former radio show The Pursuit of Happiness, which aired on California radio station KCSB in 1989. In the tape, he insists: “Anyone listening to this show that believes homosexuality is just a normal lifestyle has been brainwashed… these disgusting people”. He also hosted an anti-gay activist as a guest, agreeing with their claims that AIDS had spread by gay men consuming each others’ feces.
Hannity added: “What is the cover-up all about that the media is hiding from the general public? “Contrary to what we hear in the general media, you can get AIDS from saliva, from tears… they won’t let you say it’s a gay disease.”
Jody May-Chang, a lesbian host for the same station, called up to complain, but Hannity and his guest mocked her “turkey baster baby”. After the incident, she urged the station to sack him. She told the Post: “For me, the goal was ‘Get this guy off the air, he’s fomenting hatred’. “In retrospect, the higher thing was the First Amendment, but at the time, what he was saying was just abhorrent.”
Hannity was dismissed but the American Civil Liberties Union sided with him, claiming his right to free speech had been infringed and threatening to sue his former employer. The case was eventually settled, but Hannity rejected an offer to return to the show.
Despite the rocky start to his media career, Hannity quickly became a right-wing talk radio staple with a following, before making the jump to TV. But his views on gay people are largely unchanged.
Speaking in 2014, the Fox anchor claimed parents have a right to teach their children that homosexuality is abnormal. The news anchor made the claim in a radio segment about homophobic NFL player Adrian Peterson, who was indicted for whipping his four-year-old son.
Hannity said: “This is my problem with liberals. Here’s where my fear goes. “You guys want to tell parents what they can and cannot do – for example is it going to become illegal to teach the politically correct view that being gay is not normal?