After Fox News cut ties with Bill O’Reilly during the fall-out of multiple sexual harassment accusations, one of the network’s other stars was accused of being “creepy” towards conservative political commentator Debbie Schlussel. She said in a radio interview on April 21 that Sean Hannity acted strangely with her, but said Hannity did not sexually harass her.
The 48-year-old Schlussel is a popular conservative pundit, with over 12,400 followers on Twitter, and has had her own brushes with controversy in the past. For example, she celebrated former President Jimmy Carter’s 2015 cancer diagnosis.
Here’s what you need to know about Shlussel and her claims against Hannity.
1. Schlussel Said Hannity Asked Her to Go to His Detroit Hotel Room, but She Wouldn’t Go
While on Pat Campbell’s radio show on April 21, Schlussel said Hannity asked her to come up to his hotel room when he filmed his show in Detroit during the early 2000s. She refused to go and she never appeared on his show again.
“And then after that, I wasn’t booked on the show again. And he called at me and yelled at me,” Schlussel told Campbell. “It was made clear to me that I didn’t go back to his hotel with him after … and I got a very weird feeling about the whole thing, and I kind of knew I wouldn’t be back on his show.”
Schlussel also wrote on Twitter that Hannity “got mad at me when I briefly became a redhead.”
Hannity later sent a statement to the Los Angeles Times, calling Schlussel’s story “100 percent false and a complete fabrication.” He has his lawyers “in the process of laying out the legal course of action we will be taking against this individual.” He also called Schlussel a “serial harasser.”
Here’s Hannity’s full statement, via LawNewz:
“LET ME BE CLEAR THE COMMENTS ABOUT ME ON A RADIO SHOW THIS WEEK by this individual ARE 100% false and a complete fabrication.
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.
This individual desperately seeks attention by any means necessary, including making unfounded personal attacks and using indefensible and outrageous political rhetoric.
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 also read this statement on his show.
2. She Says Hannity Never Sexually Harassed Her, Even Though He Acted ‘Creepy’
In an interview with LawNewz, Schlussel tried to clarify her story. She said Hannity never sexually harassed her, but she still thought the incident she described on April 21 was “weird.”
“I would never accuse him of that. Sexual harassment has a special meaning under the law, and I would never accuse him of that,” Schlussel told LawNewz.
Schlussel also told LawNewz that Hannity only asked her to go to his hotel, not his specific room. Still, she stands by her story and was “banned from Fox News.”
“I never thought I was sexually harassed by Sean Hannity, I thought he was weird and creepy not someone I liked,” Schlussel told LawNewz.
Schlussel also told the site that Hannity’s legal threats were “laughable,” adding that his claim that she’s a “serial harasser” is “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,” Schlussel told LawNewz.
Hannity posted a link to Schlussel’s LawNewz interview, adding “Already the story changes.”
3. Schlussel Accused Hannity of Supporting a War Veteran Charity She Called a ‘Scam’
Schlussel and Hannity do have a long history, including a 2010 fight over the war veterans character Freedom Alliance, which Hannity supported at the time.
In a 2010 blog post, re-posted by Media Matters, Schlussel called the charity a “huge scam,” claiming that “less than 20 percent” of the money they have raised has gone to raising college tuition for children of deceased soldiers and helping wounded war veterans pay their bills.
The Freedom Alliance and Hannity fired back, claiming that Schlussel’s blog post was filled with “false accusations.”
“The blog posting accuses our friend Sean Hannity of personally benefiting from Freedom Alliance. This is FALSE,” Freedom Alliance President Thomas P. Kilgannon wrote in 2010. “Freedom Alliance has never provided planes, hotels, cars, limos, or anything else to Sean. Sean gets nothing from Freedom Alliance except our gratitude for his personal generosity and for all he has done to help the troops and our organization. We have never had to ask Sean for anything, he always generously offers his help before we have a chance to ask him.”
4. Schlussel Said Robin Williams Was ‘Selfish’ for Committing Suicide & Celebrated Jimmy Carter’s Cancer Diagnosis
Schlussel has gained fame for writing eye-catching blog posts that are bound to stir the pot. For example, when the beloved actor Robin Williams committed suicide in August 2014, Schlussel called suicide “the most selfish act.”
“It’s tragic that Robin Williams is gone, as he was an incredibly talented actor who could traverse comedy and drama and all genres in film,” Schlussel wrote. “But suicide is the most selfish act a human being can commit, rivaled only by homicide. And Robin Williams committed that act, despite leaving a wife and three adult children wondering why.”
She also wrote that, even though Williams was a Democrat, he still did some good by supporting the troops. “So, I’ll remember Robin Williams for those good things. But it’s wrong for us to soft-pedal suicide as if the perpetrator bears no responsibility or reason to be judged accordingly,” she wrote.
In another case, she celebrated former President Jimmy Carter’s cancer diagnosis in August 2015. “A cancer has cancer. Oops, I mean, Jimmy Carter has cancer. Same diff,” she wrote. She added the hashtag “#ACancerWithCancer.”
5. Schlussel Played a Role in Spreading the Lie That Obama Is a Muslim
The Detroit-based Schlussel was among the conservative voices on the web who helped spread the lie that then-candidate Barack Obama is a Muslim. Back in December 2006, she famously published the blog post “Barack Hussein Obama: Once A Muslim, Always A Muslim.”
“I had a lot of readers ask me about Barack Obama and his background, and a lot of them had heard he was a Muslim or thought he was a Muslim,” Schlussel told CBS News in 2007. “I looked into it, I found out his middle name was Hussein.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center included Schlussel on its list of “women against Islam.” “Few enemies of Islam can match Debbie Schlussel, an attorney, columnist and blogger, for sheer viciousness,” the SPLC wrote.
Schlussel writes that she is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and her mother was born in a former Nazi concentration camp. Her late father was a Vietnam-era Army veteran. She also writes that she has been a conservative Republican activist since she was 21. She was the youngest female and Jewish delegate at the 1988 Republican National Convention at age 19. She was President George H.W. Bush’s Youth Chairman for the 1989 inauguration. When she was in fourth grade, she campaigned for Ronald Reagan.
In addition to writing about politics, she also writes movie reviews and posts about box office results. She called The LEGO Batman Movie “Hillary-style collectivist BS.”