Hannity Accuses NY Times of Libel for Linking His Show to Man's Coronavirus Death

The paper “exploited a man’s tragic death” to “smear” him, Fox News host said

Fox News’ Sean Hannity accused the New York Times of libel on Monday night’s edition of his primetime show, saying the paper “exploited a man’s tragic death” by linking his show to a coronavirus death.

“We just witnessed more blatant, malicious deception, smears, lies, besmirchment from the mob and the media,” he announced to his viewers. Look at this article in the New York Times. It is entitled, ‘A Beloved Bar Owner Was Skeptical About the Virus, Then Took a Cruise.’”

He referenced a Saturday piece by Ginia Bellafante, which told the story of how a bar owner named Joe Joyce took a cruise on March 1 and later died from the coronavirus. The piece quoted Joyce’s daughter saying, “He watched Fox, and believed it was under control.” Bellafante wrote that Hannity had called the virus a “hoax” in early March and noted that a Fox News spokesperson had pointed out his comments about the public being unnecessarily afraid of the virus happened after Joyce and his wife left on their cruise. The specific comments from Hannity that were referenced in the piece happened March 9, over a week into the Joyces’ cruise.

After outlining that and extending sympathy to Joyce’s family, Hannity went off: “Now, the Times claimed that because of something I said in early March, March 9th to be exact, well, Joyce decided it would be OK to take a cruise to Spain. Now, they claim he ultimately contracted coronavirus, didn’t quite tie to the cruise completely, and sadly he passed away. Now, this is where the New York Times’ slander begins: In order to smear yours truly, they literally — this woman exploited a man’s tragic death. She willingly, maliciously, purposefully took something I said completely out of context and as proven by all my past statements that The New York Times was very well aware of. And it gets worse: The remarks that she used, yes, they were from March the 9th, again, taken out of context. It was also eight days after Mr. Joyce embarked on his cruise. Those area the remarks she referred to in her slanderous piece. That is slander. That is libel.”

A spokesperson for the New York Times didn’t immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.

The New York Post — run, like Fox News, by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp — is on Hannity’s side for this one. The Post’s editorial board wrote Monday that Fox News “didn’t kill” Joyce, but the Times was “shameless” in its Saturday piece.

All the Broadway Shows Killed (and Postponed) Due to Coronavirus Shutdown

  • When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed Broadway theaters on March 12 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the New York theater scene was heating up ahead of the Tony Awards — with 31 shows playing and another eight scheduled to begin performances by mid-April. Now the theaters will remain dark until at least June 7 — the date the now-postponed Tony Awards were scheduled to take place. But the uncertainty of when theaters (and Broadway-bound tourists) might return has forced some producers to close shows early — or push new productions to sometime in the future.

  • Closed: “Hangmen” 

    Martin McDonagh’s new comedy, starring Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”) and Mark Addy (“Game of Thrones”), announced March 20 it would not reopen after playing 13 preview performances ahead of an expected March 19 official opening.

  • Closed: “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” 

    The revival of Edward Albee’s classic drama, starring Laurie Metcalf and Rupert Everett, had played just nine preview performances before Broadway went dark. With the scheduled April 9 official opening off the table, producers decided to close the show on March 21.

  • Postponed: “Flying Over Sunset”

    The new musical by composer Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal,” pictured), lyricist Michael Korie (“Grey Gardens”) and book writer James Lapine (“Into the Woods”) was scheduled to begin performances on March 12 ahead of an official April 16 opening. On March 24 the Lincoln Center Theater announced the show’s opening would be pushed to the fall.

  • Postponed: “Birthday Candles” 

    Noah Haidle’s play, starring Debra Messing and Andre Braugher, was due to begin performances in early April. But on March 25, Roundabout Theatre Company announced it would open this fall instead.

  • Postponed: “Caroline, or Change” 

    Roundabout also delayed the opening of its revival of the Jeanine Tesori-Tony Kushner musical “Caroline, or Change,” starring Sharon D. Clarke in an Olivier Award-winning performance. The show had been set for an April 7 opening at Studio 54.

  • Postponed: “How I Learned to Drive” 

    Manhattan Theatre Club announced on April 7 it was postponing a Mary-Louise Parker-led revival of “How I Learned to Drive” to the 2020-21 season. The Pulitzer-winning drama, with David Morse as co-star, was due to open April 22, just before the cutoff for this year’s Tony Awards.

  • Closed: “Beetlejuice” 

    The Tony-nominated musical was being evicted from the Winter Garden Theatre on June 6 (even though ticket sales had dramatically improved over the fall and winter). Now producers are hoping to find a new theater when Broadway opens up, though there’s no guarantee that will happen. The adaptation of Tim Burton’s 1988 movie played played 27 previews and 366 regular performances.

  • Postponed: The Tony Awards  

    Since there’s no word yet on when Broadway performances might resume, the Broadway League on March 25 indefinitely postponed this year’s Tony Awards, which had been scheduled for June 7 at Radio City Music Hall.

“Beetlejuice” is the latest affected

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed Broadway theaters on March 12 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the New York theater scene was heating up ahead of the Tony Awards — with 31 shows playing and another eight scheduled to begin performances by mid-April. Now the theaters will remain dark until at least June 7 — the date the now-postponed Tony Awards were scheduled to take place. But the uncertainty of when theaters (and Broadway-bound tourists) might return has forced some producers to close shows early — or push new productions to sometime in the future.

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