Fox News admonished its top star, Sean Hannity, after he appeared alongside Donald Trump onstage at a campaign rally and referred to the press corps as “fake news.”
The network called Hannity’s appearance at the event in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, an “unfortunate distraction” and said it had been addressed. Fox News didn’t say if he faced consequences for the transgression.
“Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” the network said in a statement. “We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight and we are extremely proud of their work.”
Hannity went onstage at the Trump rally after tweeting earlier in the day that he was just there to interview the president. He was followed by another Fox News host, Jeanine Pirro, both of whom gave remarks from the lectern backing the president.
Hannity also mimicked one of the lines that Trump frequently delivers at rallies: He pointed toward the press in the back of the room and called them “fake news.” It was a group that included his own Fox News colleagues.
Hannity said on Tuesday that he was not referring to Fox News journalists when he made the comment.
“They do amazing work day in and day out in a fair and balanced way,” he said on Twitter. “It is an honor to work with such great professionals.”
The host also said that being called on stage by Trump was a surprise and “NOT planned.”
The network is generally sympathetic to the Trump administration and a safe place for the president to have his views heard. Trump often tweets his support of its shows and makes appearances on the network. There has also been a close connection between its staff and the White House, with former Fox News executive Bill Shine taking on the role of communications director earlier this year.
The latest incident wasn’t the first time Fox News has had to chide Hannity for his closeness to the president. In 2016, the network said Hannity was prohibited from appearing in promotions for the then-candidate after appearing in a campaign ad.
In October, Fox said Hannity’s show was the most-watched cable-news program for the seventh consecutive month.