NEW YORK, N.Y. — Liberal commentator Juan Williams has come out publicly to dispute reports by CNN that conservative talk show host Sean Hannity once pulled a gun on him after a heated exchange.
In a piece on Thursday (http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/16/media/sean-hannity-juan-williams-gun/), CNN journalist Dylan Byers wrote: “Last year, after ending one of his many spirited on-air arguments with liberal contributor Juan Williams, Hannity pulled out a gun and pointed it directly at Williams.” Byers cited “three sources with knowledge of the incident” who he said were able to substantiate his claim.
“He even turned on the laser sight, causing a red dot to bob around on Williams’ body,” Byers wrote. “Hannity was just showing off, the sources said, but the unforeseen off-camera antic clearly disturbed Williams and others on set.”
“For the record: Hannity’s colleagues brought the Williams incident to the attention of Fox News executives, though it’s not clear whether anything came of it,” Byers continued. “The sources said it went to Bill Shine, the network’s co-president and longtime Fox News executive, who is Hannity’s longtime friend and a former producer. A Fox News spokesperson said the incident was referred to the legal and human resources departments.”
However, Juan Williams, Hannity’s alleged victim, says not so fast.
“This incident is being sensationalized — everything was under total control throughout and I never felt like I was put in harm’s way,” Williams tweeted of the Byers’ report. “It was clear that Sean put my safety and security above all else and we continue to be great friends.”
A statement on the matter released by Fox News shortly after the CNN piece broke reads: “Sean Hannity has been trained in firearm safety since he was 11 years old and has a license to carry a gun in five states, including New York. The situation was thoroughly investigated and it was found that no one was put in any danger.”
Calling the CNN piece “outright false reporting,” Hannity also stepped forward to slam the report.
“While discussing the issue of firearms, I showed my good friend Juan Williams my unloaded firearm in a professional and safe manner for educational purposes only,” Hannity said. “Every precautionary procedure that I have been trained in since the age of 11 was followed. I’ve had a conceal carry permit in five states for all of my adult life. Any other interpretation of this is outright false reporting.”
Despite the controversy, Byers says he intends to stand behind his report.