Fox News calls Sean Hannity's appearance at Trump rally an 'unfortunate distraction'

Voters cast their ballots early for the midterm elections at the Government & Judicial Center in Noblesville Ind. Tuesday Oct. 23 2018

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Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump would spend the day making telephone calls, monitoring congressional and gubernatorial races and meeting with his political team.

In a message that was heard loud and clear by opponents as well as supporters, President Trump urged voters Monday to act as if he was on the ballot for the midterm elections.

One former senior Fox News employee told CNN Business that he had spoken to a number of former colleagues who are still at the network about the matter. Already No. 1 in the cable news ratings, Fox has had a strong fall with the campaign and hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, with Hannity leading the way. But the relationship between Fox News opinion programming and the Trump White House has raised ethical questions about whether the channel is reporting the news or promoting the president's agenda.

"Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events", the network said in a statement. Then, when Trump called him up, Hannity quickly went from "covering the final rally for [his] show" to becoming part of the show.

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"There is something happening", Trump told Hannity and the millions watching at home. Fox News has released a statement about the actions from their two anchors, calling it an "unfortunate distraction" they didn't authorize ahead of time. He played the role of cheerleader from the side as the crowd waited for Trump's appearance.

Trump responded: "I don't want to insult".

"They say we're divisive, but we're not divisive, we're defending an America that has strayed from its founding", he said.

He said that the Trump rallies convinced him that Trump would win in 2016 because he had such a great connection with voters.

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"It disturbs me to my core", another Fox News staffer agreed.

"If the radical Democrats take power, they will take a wrecking ball to our economy and to the future of our country", Trump said, prompting boos from the crowd.

Their speeches weren't televised on Fox News, but were seen on C-SPAN.

One Fox News employee described to CNN Business the scene at the NY headquarters of Fox News at the time, as a number of journalists inside the company's news division watched the episode unfold live. In 2016, for instance, he cited unscientific polls on-air after a Fox News executive told network producers that they did not meet the company's editorial standards.

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Hannity cleared the air on Tuesday after appearing alongside the president when he initially said he would not. "The White House-Fox News nexus has rarely been as evident as tonight in Cape Girardeau", said Philip Rucker, White House bureau chief at The Washington Post, on Twitter.

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