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Fox News' Sean Hannity absent from election coverage after appearing at rally with Trump

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Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity was a no-show on the network’s midterm election night coverage.

Hannity had been originally listed as part of Fox News’ election coverage, which was co-hosted by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. Two of Fox’s other primetime hosts, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, were scheduled to appear and did.

However, on election eve, Hannity joined President Donald Trump on stage during a campaign event, an incident Fox called an “unfortunate distraction.”

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request Wednesday for information about Hannity’s situation.

As returns came in Tuesday night, media watchers waited for a Hannity on-air appearance. The New York Daily News’ Kate Feldman said Hannity was “noticeably absent” despite the network’s announcement last week he would provide commentary and insight.

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She noted Hannity said on air that he’d be “home drinking heavily, depending either celebrating or in misery, one or the other.”

Brian Stelter, anchor of CNN’s Reliable Sources, tweeted about Hannity being MIA on “a historic night.”

Hannity did chime in, however – on Twitter, where he has 3.8 million followers. There he summed up the election results just before midnight as “a massive win” for the president.

Earlier in the day, Hannity issued tweets explaining his Monday night appearance during Trump’s midterm election eve campaign stop in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to support Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who defeated Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. 

Hannity said his onstage appearance was unplanned. “When the POTUS invited me on stage to give a few remarks last night, I was surprised, yet honored by the president’s request. This was NOT planned,” he tweeted.

Hannity also said he was misunderstood when he called the media covering the event “fake news” from the stage. “To be clear, I was not referring to my journalist colleagues at FOX News in those remarks,” he tweeted. “They do amazing work day in and day out in a fair and balanced way and It is an honor to work with such great professionals.”

Regardless, Hannity’s appearance hurt Fox News’ attempt to focus on hard news election coverage, and “sure managed to muddy things up,” wrote Forbes contributor Mark Joyella, who previously worked at CNN and Fox.

Some colleagues at Fox were not too happy about Hannity’s campaign rally appearance, reported CNN’s senior media reporter Oliver Darcy. “People throughout the company think a new line was crossed,” one senior Fox News employee told him. Those quoted by Darcy were anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

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